It's not what it appears to be
The story of an 11-year-old Tennessee boy who wanted to put an end to bullying has gone viral several times for many reasons. The saga was growing stranger by the minute on Monday, Dec. 11 with the same celebrities who once championed the young boy now calling out his mother for her alleged racism and money grubbing. Keaton Jones and his mother Kimberly have finally reached out to dispel all of the rumors surrounding their viral video and what they really hoped to accomplish with its notoriety.
It all began when Kimberly Jones posted a video of her sixth-grade son Keaton crying and saying that he had been bullied at school. “Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not okay,” Keaton questioned. He claimed that his schoolmates previously made fun of how he looked, poured milk on him, and put food in his clothing during lunch. He asked him mom to pick him up from school that day because he didn’t want to endure it again.
Kimberly asked her audience to talk to their kids about being bullied or bullying others because she wanted to put an end to the bad behavior.
The video spread across the internet at a break-neck speed. Average citizens, sports stars, musicians, and celebrities began reaching out the bullied boy giving him their support and even offering him exclusive invites to some of the top events coming up. Chris Evans invited him to the premiere of the next Avengers in Los Angeles, and Hailee Steinfeld personally invited Keaton to be her date for the Pitch Perfect 3 premiere in Los Angeles.
As the outpouring of support for Keaton grew, some people were looking to capitalize off of his new-found fame.
On Monday, Dec. 11, social media posters started spreading screenshots allegedly taken from Kimberly’s Facebook and Instagram. The screenshots showed Kimberly and Keaton posed next to Confederate flags, and another post seemed to show Kimberly posting racist comments.
Someone asserted that Keaton was being bullied because he called another student the “N” word. A GoFundMe page also sprung up and started amassing tens of thousands of dollars for Keaton which some people believed was created for selfish purposes.
In the frenzy, celebrities started reaching out to Kimberly through her social media and were chagrinned to realize that she just wanted their star power to get more money on the GoFundMe page.
“I feel pretty stupid right now. I was pretty moved by Keaton Jones’ video so I reached out to his mum and was going to bring him out to LA for a Bellator event… and be his friend, and she just wants money,” MMA fighter Joe Schilling said in an Instagram video.
He also released a text conversation in which Kimberly wrote:
“What happened to us whites sticking together and helping one another against the predator?”
Orange Is the New Black actor Nick Stevenson made a video on Twitter shaming Kimberly for passing on her racism to her son, but he said that he would still stand with Keaton since it wasn’t his fault. “Quit with the bullying. Quit with the racism. Quit with the homophobic slurs. My heart is with Keaton. It’s not with racism,” Nick said. He said that he would still honor his invitation for Keaton to see his show, but his mother wouldn’t be allowed to come along.
Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt also commented on the situation. “Keaton’s a little kid — his family hasn’t allowed him any real perspective yet. How ‘bout showing him that people of all races & creeds can come together? Change things, maybe? Show him a better world?” the Young Adult actor wrote.
After a day of accusations and criticisms, Kimberly Jones finally came out saying that people were totally wrong about her and her intentions with the simple video of her son.
Kimberly’s daughter Lakyn ― who fielded many of the inquiries about helping Keaton ― spoke out about the uproar. At 5:01 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11, she wrote:
“The Instagram KimberlyJones_38 is NOT my mom. She has a private Instagram and hasn’t talked to anyone. We haven’t received any money and don’t plan on it. The gofundme’s aren’t by any of us.”
“Those who know me and my family know we aren’t racist. My brother doesn’t say the ‘N’ word. Please leave it alone,” she later wrote.
The GoFundMe page which got almost $60,000 in a day was set up by a man named Joseph Lam in Keaton’s name. He said that he was not affiliated with the family but wanted to help the boy out. “I don’t know the family personally and never claimed to have known them,” he wrote.
The Instagram account that Joe Schilling was messaging now appears to have been created by someone who didn’t know the Jones family.