Over the weekend until Monday, social media was buzzing with an outpouring of support for Keaton Jones, the 11-year-old who posted a tearful anti-bullying video that quickly went viral. Now, Keaton Jones' mom is speaking out after social media sleuths dug up some controversial pictures of her on her now-private Facebook profile. Once celebs started reaching out to Keaton, people tried to find out more about him, and unearthed a picture of his mother, Kimberly Jones, allegedly holding a Confederate flag.
According to CBS News, her daughter's Twitter profile also included a family photo of the Tennesee family with a Confederate flag. Romper's request for comment from the Jones family was not immediately returned.
Others alleged that the mom was using her son's viral video to get donations for a GoFundMe fundraiser that was set up on Keaton's behalf. It raised $60,000 before its owner, Joseph Lam, shut it down in the wake of the controversy, according to BET. Kimberly spoke to both CBS News and TODAY on Tuesday in the name of defending her family's motives for posting her son's tearful video.
She spoke to CBS News about the alleged photo and said, "The only two photos — the only two photos on my entire planet that I am anywhere near a Confederate flag. It was ironic. It was funny."
She echoed that sentiment on TODAY, saying that the backlash was unexpected. Jones said:
I mean that, you know, yesterday he was a hero. You know, the world loved us. Today, the world hates us. And again, I’m trying really hard to think that I was trying not to get caught up in the positives. So, we’re not going to get caught up in the negatives.
Keaton's sister Lakyn also took to Twitter to defend her family. According to Us Weekly, she wrote, "My family will continue to support each other. You all can hate and tweet all you want but our faith cant be shaken." In a second tweet, she added, "Those who know me and my family know we aren’t racist. My brother doesn’t say the 'N' word. Please leave it alone."
Keaton's sister also tweeted that none of the GoFundMe fundraisers were set up by her family and that they didn't plan on collecting any money from Keaton's viral internet fame.
According to People, Lakyn also wrote in a now deleted Twitter post, "To those who think my mother is a racist, she is not. She is a southern woman who loves where she’s from. She believes in equality and doesn’t want any harm done to ANYONE. This is about bullying and my brother. Not her. Please leave it alone.”
In an interview with ABC News, Kimberly seemed to agree with her daughter that her relationship to the Confederate flag was more about her heritage than being a racist, though there are people who find it hard to separate the Confederate flag from its racist history. She repeated her sentiment that the picture of her family with the flag was meant to be "funny" and "ironic."
"I feel like anybody who wants to take the time to ask anybody who I am or even troll through some other pictures, I mean I feel like we’re not racist. It was meant to be ironic and funny … I am genuinely truly sorry. If I could take it back, I would," the mom told ABC News.
While the world may never know the motives behind the family posting the video or what was "meant" by the picture of the controversial symbol of a dark and racist time in American history, it's indisputable that Keaton Jones has touched scores of people with his anti-bullying message.
Jumping to conclusions and bashing his family on social media is no better than a middle schooler pouring milk on a kid. Or disliking someone for the color of their skin, religion, or anything that makes people unique. Hopefully Keaton helped people understand that any kind bullying is wrong, which was his intention from the start.
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