“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. People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”
Those heart-wrenching words were said by Keaton Jones, an 11-year-old boy from Knoxville, Tennessee, in a video that his mother, Kimberly Jones, captured. In a Facebook post last Friday sharing the video, Kimberly explained that she picked her son up from school because he’d been afraid to go to lunch with his classmates.
That was when he started spilling his heart.
“My kids are by no stretch perfect, and at home, he’s as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he’s good at school,” Keaton’s mother shared on Facebook.
“We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.”
— Bernard Blake (@BamBam_Blake23) December 10, 2017
Keaton had been dealing with bullying for a while prior to the video being shared. He details in the video how the bullies would pour milk on him, and shove food in his clothes. Traumatized by the experiences, Keaton was left feeling scared and overwhelmed.
When asked by his mother what the kids had been saying to him, Keaton tearfully explained the details.
“The made fun of my nose, they call me ugly,” Keaton explained.
“They say I have no friends.”
— Hailee Steinfeld (@HaileeSteinfeld) December 10, 2017
Following Kimberly sharing the video, she never expected that almost overnight millions of people would begin talking about him.
His name became a trending topic; his story received national coverage and an outpouring of support from social media.
Many celebrities and sports stars also shared their sympathy, some even offering him gifts and the opportunity to hang out with them.
The video went viral and everyone was talking about him.
So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton. It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man pic.twitter.com/vMHVtnf2rC
— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 11, 2017
His sister, Lakyn Jones, explained over Twitter that she and her family were doing very well, and that Keaton is happy that his video is spreading positive vibes and getting people talking about the more-prevalent-than-ever issue of bullying.
The Support is overwhelmingly! He is doing good and loving the awareness his video! #StandWithKeaton
— Lakyn 🎄 (@Lakyn_Jones) December 10, 2017
In the video that started everything, the last point that Keaton shared is that “if you’re made fun of, just don’t let it bother you. Stay strong, I guess. It’s hard, but it’ll probably get better one day.”
Later, Keaton told CBS that the support he’s received after making the video has meant a lot to him.
“It made me feel like I had accomplished something real. Something that could actually change the world,” he said.
But following the outpouring of support, controversy erupted.
With the focus on Keaton and his family, by Monday some people started to notice other posts on his mom’s Facebook page, most notably a photos of her posing next to a Confederate flag. The images along with some other posts led some commentators to suggest she was racist.
There’s also been rumors of fake social media accounts being set up in her name to try to fraudulently profit from the moment of fame, according to USA Today.
A GoFundMe account set up by a man, Joseph Lam, who does not personally know the family raised nearly $60,000 for Keaton, though it’s now been put on hold. A GoFundMe spokesperson told USA Today that they would be making sure that money raised did get to Keaton. Lam said in an update that he wanted $25,000 to go to Keaton for a college fund and the rest to an anti-bullying charity. People could also request a refund if they thought they had been tricked into donating.
Kimberly told CBS and ABC that she was not racist nor was she trying to profit from the video, a sentiment echoed by Keaton.
“I made the video to raise awareness for bullying, not for fame or fortune, it was not at all for that. It was to raise awareness to bullying,” Keaton told ABC. “[It’s] a serious thing that goes on in our society. People criticize other people for the way they look and act; it’s not their fault.”
Watch Keaton’s video below.
"Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, and at home, he's as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he's good at school. Talk to your kids. I've even had friends of mine tell me their kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere."For our best love stories, subscribe to our free email newsletter: http://bit.ly/29l733Q#LoveWhatMattersSubmitted by Kimberly Jones
Posted by Love What Matters on Saturday, December 9, 2017