Keaton Jones

I am sure we have all heard about this video by now. Here we see 11 year old Keaton Jones, a Tennessee native whose mother taped his heartfelt thoughts on bullying. As someone who was bullied or ostracized throughout most of elementary and high school, this video resonated with me and truly made me empathize with what appears to be a genuine victim.

The backlash this video has received over the past few days has generated numerous claims, some true and some false. This is why I waited for a few days, biding my time until fact was separated from fiction.

There were allegations that Keaton is racist, and that the bullying he received was a direct result of uttering racial slurs to some of his classmates. This fact is ubiquitous on Twitter but has yet to be verified. The principal of the school said the bullying issue has been dealt with and that no epithets were involved. You can argue the principal is trying to save face but the discrepancy still begs the question: Where is the proof that Keaton is a racist?

You may have heard Jones’s mother, Kimberly, is a racist. That is definitely possible. The picture of her posing with a Confederate flag is genuine, and she argues that she posed with it to be “ironic” or “funny” but that just seems like the desperate plea of someone who has been exposed. For those who need a history lesson, the Confederate flag is about state rights…to continue slavery. Kimberly has also criticized kneeling in the NFL, a practice which I have already discussed and defended.

Kimberly seems like another one of the people living in a post-racial utopia, brandishing a Confederate flag while complaining about the minorities who acknowledge racism and its damaging impact on their communities. Maybe she raised her son with the same naive mindset, instilling the belief that minorities could solve all this supposed racism if they just worked harder.

Who knows. Chris Evans already invited Keaton to the Avengers: Infinity War premiere and a host of other celebrities were quick to jump on the pro-Keaton bandwagon. I like to think Captain America would have hesitated to invite Keaton if he thought the boy’s mother might be a racist.

The internet has accelerated the pace that we produce and consume news but sometimes it appears there is still a delay in getting the fully story. Fake Instagram accounts spring up like weeds, showcasing a slew of racist comments supposedly uttered by Keaton or his mother.

I initially backed out of doing this article. Its direction seemed unclear to me. While I agreed that the rumours of Keaton’s use of slurs represented a lack of journalistic integrity and a mob mentality, I also disliked the mob mentality present in quickly rallying behind a bullied child whose mother started a GoFundMe for her son, as opposed to donating that money to anti-bullying organizations. One side tends to attack the other, thinking they are right. What Keaton Jones shows is that we both need to look at ourselves. The side rushing to defend and rushing to vilify both need to avoid emotional responses. They need to both examine facts, context, history in order to paint a complete picture on the internet’s canvas.

Drama

Sometimes, it honestly seems like some people can’t cope without drama in their lives,

It gives them a sense of purpose,

Energy,

Belonging,

As long as someone else is being ridiculed it takes attention away from them,

By joining in the ridicule, they also get to  be part of the accepted group,

Even if that sense of inclusion is only in their heads,

 

I’ve fallen into this trap myself,

I was surrounded by people whose acceptance I craved,

I wanted them to like me,

So when they singled someone out for their derision,

I was quick to join in with them,

Even though I knew,

Deep down,

That I was not one of them,

It was hard for me to accept this at first,

I was in denial for months,

I ignored one comment after another,

It was harder to ignore the way everyone avoided me,

I was only a conduit for my roommate,

I only mattered if I knew where he was,

 

It was during this time I also noticed how quickly people follow a crowd,

My roommate was the most popular person on the floor,

He started hating someone,

So everyone else started hating that unfortunate person,

That person’s tics, habits, shortcomings,

Were magnified,

While the same ones were ignored in everyone else,

Even when I realized I wasn’t going to be accepted,

Part of me was happy that someone else was more maligned than me,

 

That was when I realized I wasted too much time trying to please these people,

Nothing I did was ever good enough for them,

And it took a while for me to realize that was fine,

For me to finally realize that I needed to branch out,

I wasted four months of my life in a miserable situation,

Before finding friends that I now cherish,

In  a way,

Those four months,

Saved me from wasting years