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This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: The Saga of Keaton Jones

By Jodi Smith | Social Media | December 11, 2017 |

By Jodi Smith | Social Media | December 11, 2017 |

Last week, Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton Jones, from his Knoxville, Tennessee school early. Her son had been the victim of bullying and didn’t want to stay at school for lunch. Once Keaton was in the car, he allegedly asked his mother to record a video of him sobbing and speaking out about bullying.

Mrs. Jones posted the video on Facebook and asked people to speak with their children about bullying. Before the end of Sunday, December 10th, the video of Keaton had gone viral and was being retweeted all over Twitter. This led to Chris Evans, the Best Chris, offering Keaton a trip to the Avengers premiere next year, Patton Oswalt donating money, and multitudes of other offers from celebrities who thought they were helping out a kid who was being bullied.

Then we all remembered this is the Internet and everyone is garbage.

It turns out that Keaton’s mother is probably a racist. It has also been alleged that Keaton used a racial slur against some Black classmates, which prompted his bullying.

Then everyone reminded us that a little white boy cries bullying and he receives an outpouring of support from the rich and famous. Meanwhile, we see again how people of color are not rallied around when they are suffering in worse situations.

Many celebrities are doubling down on their support for Keaton while making sure his mother’s name is thoroughly trounced and her actions denounced.

I understand where they are coming from, I really do. However—

It seems excessive to give $55,000 to a family based on one child saying he’s bullied. It seems excessive to have people keep piling on the gifts for one child when there are so many that are abused, homeless, or in more need than Keaton. Understand, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t reach out to Keaton with encouragement, but I’m having a tough time reconciling the amount of real need out in the world with the bounty being bestowed upon the Jones family. Because it isn’t just Keaton who is getting money from the Go Fund Me; his racist mother is getting that money. You can see in the photos that the children look well-cared for and have nice clothes. You can see that they have a home.

So why does this child’s family need money? College? We don’t know the economic situation of that household. Because money equals happiness and that will show the bullies? Because lifting up a bullied young white boy is more important than lifting up others? Why did Keaton Jones resonate more than the young daughter of Philando Castile’s girlfriend asking her mother not to cry because the police would shoot her, too?

Like many internet viral stars before him, the saga of Keaton Jones is a complicated one with questions whose answers aren’t exactly easy to deal with. We have to ask ourselves what we can do every day for many people suffering instead of who we can help because they’re trending on Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps some due diligence before offering money or amazing opportunities to people. Because there are lots of people in need right now and giving everything to one person and ignoring the rest isn’t as philanthropic as it may appear.

(The GoFundMe page, which has raised $57,000, so far, has been frozen.)

Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.