I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Do We Still #StandWithKeaton?
Boy, did Keaton Jones' viral video about bullying take on several new dimensions. All of a sudden, pictures were circulating of his mother, Kimberly Jones, who took the video of her son crying and asking why people bully. It was a heartbreaking video to watch, regardless of whether or not you have kids. There are few on this planet who get pleasure from watching another's pain, and seeing Keaton Jones crying was gutting.
What was potentially more heartbreaking was the story that developed throughout the day of December 11. There was a picture of Kimberly Jones' family, and as might be expected, Keaton was fairly centralized in the picture, standing beside the Confederate flag, which of course has its own heavy meanings behind it.
Now, Keaton seemed fairly young in the shot (certainly a fair bit younger than he is now), so he likely didn't yet fully appreciate the implications of the Confederate flag. There are many things we ourselves have done simply because our parents have instructed us to do so, and it does not take a whole lot of imagination to believe that perhaps a younger Keaton was simply told "stand here" or "hold this" and just did it because his mom told him to.
There have also been screenshots of tweets, reportedly from Kimberly Jones herself, that can only be described as obnoxious, to put it mildly. I won't get into that too much here, but suffice it to say, the fact that these screenshots exist is doing little to help her reputation as a mom who is trying to send out a message about bullying. One of the mildest terms used to describe Kimberly Jones by the end of the day on December 11 included "racist," and it got worse from there.
To put it plainly, Kimberly Jones did not do herself any favors, but it did not end there. Reportedly, Joe Schilling (an MMA fighter) got in touch with Ms. Jones to invite Keaton to attend a fight, and through the conversation, Schilling learned that effectively, Kimberly Jones just wanted money because she was a single mom and it was Christmas.
The video that started it all has since been taken down, and now, news outlets are trying to reach Kimberly Jones to answer the one question that keeps coming up: just what the hell is happening?
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We May Never Really Know
Daily Mail reports that both Kimberly Jones and her oldest daughter, Lakyn, are saying that anyone who has come forward as @KimberlyJones_38 via Instagram is actually not the Kimberly Jones involved in this case, and that anyone who has come forward looking for cash and claiming to be Kimberly Jones is not Keaton Jones' mom.
There were also unconfirmed reports from December 11 that Keaton Jones may have instigated the bullying by using inappropriate and racist language with some of his classmates, but again, these are unconfirmed. In the world of social media, however, "unconfirmed" doesn't mean too much; consumers of social media tend to see anything that potentially backs up whatever claims they are making as support for their beliefs.
So, where does that leave us—those who believed in Keaton's story? Does the story somehow get diminished because images of the mother engaging in what appears to be racist activities or awful wars of words surfaced online?
First of all, the crimes of the parent should never be those of the child. While I realize that it's really difficult to believe that a child would somehow be raised without being exposed, or at the very least aware of, a parent's racist ideologies, we still have to be careful to not look at a child and somehow tag that child with the same crimes their parents are believed to have committed. I know there are those who do that, but it's not right, and it's not fair to those children. They did not choose their parents and should not somehow be held responsible or punished for whatever it is their parents have done.
Secondly, what sources are we getting our information from? Do we know if they are legitimate sources with—in this case, at least—ties to the family that are willing to be identified? Are they official representatives that might have anything productive to say about whatever situation we are looking at? Even though the advent of social media allows us to grab onto anything as reported "proof" of someone's misdeeds, we still have to look at who we're grabbing information from and determine whether or not it's legit and relevant to what we're looking at.
Finally, if Keaton did indeed make racist remarks, and the video millions of people actually saw was an elaborate staging and not the heartbreak we believed it to be—and let's be clear; we still are looking at unconfirmed reports that Keaton made these remarks—we should take a hard look at just how easily we buy into everything on social media. Just because it walks and talks like a duck does not mean it's a duck in the world of social media, where you can make pretty much any situation look however you want it to.
I don't want any of us to become more cynical than we already are, if that can happen, but the bottom line is we have to be cautious about what we see and understand that what we see online is not necessarily the full truth. I am in no way saying that if Keaton said racist remarks to trigger the bullying that he is somehow deserving of being bullied himself. If Keaton was a bully, that was terribly wrong, and then, if he was bullied in return, that was also terribly wrong, and all involved should be taken to task for their behaviors.
However, millions of us saw only one side—the heartbreaking video where a young boy with a scar wept openly about the horrors he's gone through as a bullied kid. Perhaps, before we jump on further bandwagons, we need to wait a little and ensure that any story that plays out gives us a fuller picture. Perhaps then we wouldn't be questioning the truth in anything we might see.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.