Keaton Jones spoke about his experience as a victim of bullying in a video that his mother, Kimberly Jones, shared on social media. Recounting how bullies poured milk on him at his school cafeteria, Keaton’s video went viral and grabbed the attention of some of the most famous celebrities in the world, who offered their support in spades for young Keaton.
Celebrities such as LeBron James, Dr. Phil, Chris Evans, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and Mark Ruffalo all watched his tearful monologue, and sent donations as well as messages of love and solidarity.
Captain America star Chris Evans even invited Keaton to the 2018 premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
Keaton’s heartbreaking video had garnered more than 16 million views on Facebook before his mother shut down the page. Joseph Lam launched a GoFundMe account, asking for donations in support of Keaton, which have risen to over $60,000 so far. But he has since paused it due to recent developments.
Early Monday morning, activist Tariq Nasheed tweeted a screenshot of Kimberly Jones’ now-closed Facebook page, which showed photos of her and her family members waving the Confederate flag.
Also on Monday, MMA fighter Joe Schilling posted an exchange on his Instagram page that he had with the user @kimberlyjones_38, who is unconfirmed to be Keaton’s mother, in which she called what happened to the middle-schooler “an opportunity” for her son and noted that she is poor, “not rich.”
When Schilling responded by accusing the woman of exploiting her son’s pain and stating that he was no longer interested in getting involved, the account replied: “What happened to us whites sticking together and helping one of [sic] another against the predator?”
It is uncertain whether the account is real, and there are a number of conflicting reports going around about the bullying incident itself. One which states that Keaton was not in fact bullied, and used the N word against other school kids, who then took a stand against him. In which case, Keaton would have been the bully.
As some have pointed out though, this is unconfirmed and could be disinformation spread to smear Keaton. However, others have responded arguing that Keaton’s bullying narrative could also be a lie made up by him and his mum.
The person who revealed the photos of Keaton racists family last night also said that Keaton repeatedly call a kid in school ni**er on several different occasions. And that the kids got on Keaton's ass to make him stop. So is it really Bullying… https://t.co/oXbAf6xHqs
— In Why See (@Candi_AppleRed1) December 11, 2017
Let me ask you. Do you know for sure that he was really bullied?
— The Harlem Shimmy (@Say_Yes_2theJes) December 11, 2017
What we do know is that his mother, Kimberly, has proudly posted pictures of herself and her family brandishing the Confederate flag. The Confederates went to war specifically in order to preserve the racist system of chattel slavery in the South. The flag is symbolic of the Confederacy’s racism and belief in the enslavement of Black people.
Keaton is a child, and does not bear the responsibility for his mother’s actions — though one might argue that if his mother is racist, he has likely picked up those opinions too.
The overwhelming amount of emotional and monetary support he has received has also benefited Kimberly, who was previously never too shy to post racist imagery on social media. Tariq Nasheed noted the irony in a mother who was happy to profit off of a victim of bullying while also having “very problematic posts bullying Black people.”
Y'all think they gonna take the confederate flag off their lawn now that they see how compassionate black people are? Or y'all think they're gonna pretend they didn't see it?
— XXXTensions (@eleven8) December 11, 2017
The question remains whether the deluge of celebrity support will extend to other victims of bullying, including young Black children bullied for their race, and will not die out as another temporary fashion statement for famous figures wanting to appear more compassionate to the world.
Perhaps the attention Keaton has garnered will not erase other victims of bullying, and more long-term efforts to solve bullying at large will be funded and developed in the wake of Keaton’s story. And perhaps Kimberly might rethink her perspective on Black people after so many of them have supported her. Perhaps.
y’all sit here and donate 60K to a keaton jones and his racist ass mother but puerto rico is still suffering, flint still don’t have clean water, slavery is happening in libya, syrian children are starving, and cops are still “accidentally” shooting blacks pic.twitter.com/i1zzA6GlQa
— BARBIE® (@timmythick) December 11, 2017