The phrase “His name is Cayden” has gone viral after a Georgia man posted a selfie online with his black co-workers son that garnered racist comments.
According to the New York Daily News, a former employee of Polaris Marketing Group, an Atlanta-based marketing firm, Gerod Roth took a seemingly innocent selfie with three-year-old Cayden Jenkins and later posted it online to his personal Facebook page on September 16.
The photo shows Gerod wearing a pink button-up shirt and Cayden dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a white t-shirt. Both are looking into the camera as Gerod snaps the photo. The Facebook photo, posted under Geris Hilton, immediately started receiving negative attention, with many of Gerod’s friends posting racist comments.
— The Root (@TheRoot) October 6, 2015
“I didn’t know you were a slave owner,” Emily Irene Red wrote, followed by Ryan Michael Segiel’s comment, “Help feed this poor child today.”
“But Massuh, I dindu nuffin” Baron O’Malley wrote.
“*takes picture* ‘With your donation of 32.75 you can help save a life.’ Now get out of here kid, I’m tryin’a look good on Facebook…” Gabe Guzman added.
At one point, Roth chimed into the taunting, responding to one of the many racist commentors. When Dylan Kleeman said, “Dude where the hell did you get a black kid??,” Gerod wrote, “He was feral.”
Sydney Jade, Cayden’s mother, was unaware of the Facebook post until another coworker brought it to her attention. She then posted a lengthy Facebook message of her own, identifying her son and thanking those who were supportive in stopping the exploitation of him.
“This is Cayden Jace! The love of my life, the apple in my eye, my EVERYTHING,” Jade wrote. “We are above all this nonsense that has been going on.” She then ended her post with the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden, which later went viral on Twitter.
— Jamaicangroupiemet (@groupiemet) October 5, 2015
Roth later tried to backtrack on his “feral” comment, saying he was referring to the children who run around the building unattended. He said that he even told someone not to be making racist comments, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
“I just really feel upset, not only with myself, but also the character that was based off the comments that my friends had made,” Roth told the station. “Cayden has been victimized but I have been targeted.”
One of Roth’s friends, who is black, wrote #blacklivesmatter in the comments section of the photo and also says his friend is not a racist.
“My Dawg isnt Racist, he just made a bad joke & im sure when he is given the outlet to speak about his regret, he will,” Skylar Felton wrote on Facebook.
After Gerod and Cayden’s photo went viral, Polaris Marketing Group President Michael Da Graca Pinto commented, calling the remarks “disgusting.” Despite his opinion on what was said, he insists that Gerod’s September 29 termination was due to unrelated work issues.
“It breaks my heart that Sydney and her adorable son Cayden were subjected to such hateful, ignorant and despicable behavior,” Pinto wrote in a statement.” Cayden visits my office almost every afternoon after daycare, he’s sat at my dinner table.”
Jade said she never expected the situation to get as big as it has, but she is grateful for the outpouring of support she and Cayden have received.
“I never in a million years expected it to be this massive,” Jade said. “If it has to start with us, I’m going to finish it. It was my son put in the limelight. And not only my son but a child, a 3-year-old, someone who can’t defend himself.”
What do you think about Roth’s selfie with Cayden, and the racist comments that ensued? Share your thoughts on the situation below.
[Image via Facebook]