The video where the boy laments about bullying has been watched over 20 million times; his mother has also been accused of racism and taking advantage of her son's pain.
You may have come across the name, Keaton Jones in the last few hours, or maybe not. It is the name of the young boy from the city of Knoxville, Tennessee who has taken the internet by storm after his mother posted a video of him making a saddening plea asking why he is bullied in school.
The video has been watched over 20 million times on Facebook and Keaton has received goodwill messages and support from a plethora of celebrities.
In the time since, a number of GoFundMe accounts have been set up, with one of them amassing as much as sixty thousand dollars, before it was taken down.
So yea, you could say the Keaton bullying saga has taken on somewhat unsurprising twists. Here’s everything that happened before money became a part of the story, and then some of what happened after.
“People who are different shouldn’t be criticised for it“
After his mother picked him up early from school on Friday, just before lunchtime, Keaton asked her to record him as he passionately addressed the bullying he was facing in school.
In the video, the 11-year-old cried about how he was bullied because of his nose, with his classmates calling him ugly, pouring milk on him and spreading ham on his clothes.
In a particularly emotional moment, he asks his mother, “Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and find a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK”.
“Stay Strong Keaton, We promise it gets better”
Keaton’s video has been watched over 20 million times on Facebook, turning into a viral sensation. Bullying is a subject that most people can relate to and the young boy has received support and uplifting messages from all over the internet.
Celebrities around the US have also lent their voices and specially reserved seats to inspire the 11-year-old and help him assert his confidence.
Millie Bobby Brown, the 13-year old who plays Eleven on the hit television series, Stranger Things tweeted, “I think your so cool Keaton. I wanna be your friend”.
Actor Chris Evans also played Captain America in real life, encouraging the young boy to maintain values like strength. He also went one better and invited Keaton to be his guest at the Los Angeles premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War”.
“Show me the money”
Somehow money entered the picture. Sometime during the video’s explosion on social media, Keaton’s mother opened a PayPal account where sympathisers could send money.
Later, a GoFundMe account appeared in Keaton’s name, raising over 60,000 dollars in donations before it was shut down.
These separate events caused many to questions the motives of Keaton’s mother but things reached a head when an MMA fighter, Joe Schilling accused her of using her son’s situation to make money.
Schilling wrote in an angry Instagram post, “I feel pretty stupid right now. I was pretty moved by Keaton Jones video so I reached out to his mom and was going to bring him out to LA for a Bellator event that’s coming up, big show, and and introduce him to fighters, be his friend, and she just wants money. She just wants me to share her GoFund me account.”
Also recording a video, the fighter narrated how he asked Ms Jones what the GoFundMe account was for to which she gave a flippant excuse that included the words, “Christmas is Coming”.
He then posted an apparent screenshot of their conversation where Keaton’s mother allegedly made it clear that the priority was money.
“Racist or Insensitive”
Keaton’s mother has also come under intense criticism for a number of posts on her facebook page displaying the Confederate flag outside her home. In one of those photos, one of her children is seen holding the Confederate flag on one side; the other child holds the American flag on the other side.
There are also claims that Keaton was beaten by some African-american children after he used the word “Nigger” to refer to them.
American media personality, Tariq Rasheed tweeted, “That viral video of #KeatonJones talking about being bullied is heartbreaking, and I feel sympathetic towards that child,”
“But his mom, Kimberly on the other hand, is a suspected racist who makes very problematic posts bullying Black protesters.”, he continued.
Mr Nasheed’s tweet was followed by several photos appearing to show members of the Jones family standing next to a Confederate flag.
Mr Nasheed also tweeted a screenshot of what appears to be a post written by Ms Jones, asking “butt hurt Americans” to stop complaining about “metaphorical, emotional, financial, or historical blood & brokenness”
“It wasn’t me”
As one would expect, Ms Jones has dispelled the rumours and denied any allegations of wrong-doing or racism.
She told Fox News that she had taken the photos down for a reason without so much as saying what the reason was.
She also went ot Instagram to reply Schilling’s accusations.
“I love my kids: Ya’ll people do not know me or my family,” Jones wrote. “Did y’all know that my son Keaton was spit on in school, picked on by teachers, that supposed to be there for him??? I’m guessing y’all didn’t because y’all wanna steady Judge me and say I’m using him for money that’s false.”
“So who do we believe now?”
The answer is no-one really knows. Civil rights activist and commentators have attacked Ms Jones’ honesty also implying that the attention that his video received was unwarranted as they claim he was beaten by his class mates for being racist.
With the memory of two young Americans who committed suicide due to bullying still fresh in the mind, the conversation around Keaton’s bullying video and the veracity of his mother’s motives have taken on new importance.
On Twitter, users are posting videos and photos of other children who they believe deserve the attention that Keaton got and then some more.
There is a sense that things may unravel as hours pass, but if nothing, we can be satisfied that an important discussion about bullying has been ignited.
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