Opinion: Keaton Jones’ Video Needs To Be About Keaton, And Nobody Else

Leave it to the internet to try to turn the potential Feel-Good-Story-Of-The-Year into a giant steaming pile of compost.

By kncitom on December 12, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 15: Kelby Johnson attends a panel discussion after a screening of the documentary "Bully" at MPAA on March15, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
(Photo by Kris Connor)

Leave it to the internet to try to turn the potential Feel-Good-Story-Of-The-Year into a giant steaming pile of compost.

The video of a Tennessee 6th grader talking on camera about being bullied has over 19 million views since it was first posted over the weekend. Keaton Jones is the young man talking into the camera, after being picked up from school early because someone dumped milk on him as he was being picked on at lunch. His honest words about the pain of being bullied were heart-wrenching, and prompted a tidal wave of support from celebrities and ordinary people all around the world.

But then, the story seemed like it might change, after it was discovered his mother had a couple of pictures posted on her Facebook page of herself with the confederate flag. Suddenly, she was being called a racist, and people began assuming the video of her son was nothing more than a ploy for attention and money and all the gestures of goodwill and kindness began to sour faster than a glass of milk left out in July.

Kimberly Jones and Keaton were featured on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, and when she was asked about the Facebook photos (You can see the full interview here) she said they were being taken out of context and that they were meant to be “ironic”, a joke, because, she said, “I’ve spent most of my life being bullied and judged because I wasn’t racist”. For some, that explanation has been good enough. For others, it hasn’t.

She also came under fire, briefly, from a UFC fighter, who claimed when he tried to contact Jones via an Instagram account, he was told to donate money to a GoFundMe account instead. As it turned out though, the Instagram account did not belong to Jones–it was fake, and the fighter has since deleted his post. A GoFundMe account that was set up for Keaton has been temporarily suspended while they investigate the validity of the account, which has over $57,000 in it.

All that aside, there is no denying that the pain and hurt that Keaton displays in that video is real. That kid isn’t faking those tears. And whether or not his mother or family are racist, misguided or telling the truth about the flag photos–none of it matters.

Keaton’s message still resonates.

There’s never been a better vehicle for tearing people down than the internet, especially for, talk about irony here, bullying on a massive scale. I hope with all my heart this all doesn’t come tumbling down on that his young shoulders–he’s had enough to bear already, and shouldn’t be used as a pawn by anyone with anything other than his best interests at heart. I hope the celebrities who reached out  still make their connection with him. I hope those “ordinary Americans” reaching out still do so with only the best intentions. And I hope parents use this moment to talk to their kids about kindness and inclusiveness, and about understanding we all have differences and there’s nothing wrong with that. None of this is (or should be) about his mom and what she may or may not believe.

“It made me feel like I’d accomplished something …real” Keaton tells the interviewer on CBS This Morning when he was asked about the video. “..Something that could actually change the world”.

More than anything, I hope Keaton will be able to continue feeling that way. Because he did.


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