A Teachable Moment

(Image Courtesy of: dailymail.co.uk)

By: Zach Fulwood

So the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with the story of Keaton Jones. As we all know, Keaton Jones was at the center of a viral video that saw him sobbing to his mother (who was filming the video) about the bullying that he had been experiencing in school. It was the type of video that you couldn’t help but feel for the kid. No one deserves to be bullied and it definitely seemed like the kid had been through hell.

Because of the obvious emotional pain this child was in, many celebrities and public figures around the country made it a point to reach out to him and his family either personally or through social media to show support. From Chris Evans (Captain America), LeBron James to Justin Beiber, the names of people who spoke out against the bullying that Keaton Jones was facing was amazing.

The Black hip-hop and R&B community definitely seemed to rally behind young Keaton Jones as well. With artists like T.I, Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, and Cardi B coming out in support, the optics couldn’t have looked better and with so much division going on in our society today, the look of unity was just the kind of shot in the arm this country needed. Or so it seemed.

Just as the sad story was turning good, it went to bad in a blink of an eye. Shortly after the spotlight was shown on Keaton Jones, the spotlight shifted over to his mother and a couple of pictures on social media that had been posted in the past of her and the Jones family holding up a Confederate flag. She stated that those pictures were in no way meant to be racist but instead “ironic” and “funny”. I don’t know this woman to call her racist but I do struggle to find the “irony” in posting Confederate flag family photos. There were also some tweets that she “allegedly” posted condemning NFL players for kneeling for the National Anthem as well as some unflattering comments about the Charlottesville “protests” earlier in the year, so there’s that.

The Keaton Jones story took another turn for the worst after it was discovered that his estranged father probably is in fact, a racist. A self-proclaimed white supremacist, Keaton Jones’ father, Shawn White, has a pretty alarming history of spreading racist propaganda on social media. Although he’s been in prison since May 2015, Facebook images of him showing off tattoos that say ‘Pure Breed’ and ‘White Pride’ have surfaced along with old memes that were posted saying ‘HOLY F*** I LOVE BEING WHITE,’ ‘Keep Calm and be White Pride,’ and ‘Aryan Pride.’

Granted, the status of Keaton’s relationship with his father is unknown, there’s still no telling what actually lead up to Keaton Jones being bullied. Was he this innocent boy who was being picked on for looking different? Or, was he spewing racial epithets towards his classmates and some took offense and retaliated? As of now, the answer is unclear and unfortunately, there’s more questions than answers surrounding the story of Keaton Jones.

There is a lesson in all this however, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear,” as the great Edgar Allan Poe once said. It’s common place for people to want to jump in and support anybody who looks like their in need of help but in this day and age, context is everything. People post things on social media all the time for attention. This isn’t to say that the Keaton Jones video was posted in hopes of going viral and getting special treatment and shout-outs from celebrities because we don’t know what the true intentions of that video was.

We assumed that this kid was in trouble based off of the little information that we had and we all felt sorry for him. Now, with a little more information, we don’t know whether to continue to feel sorry for him or if we should feel no empathy for him because of the actions of his parents (which is a debatable stance). I know we all like to make sure we’re on the right side of history when controversy happens but sometimes it’s best to not pick a side while you gather the facts than to pick a side with little to no facts at all.

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