Keaton Jones found viral fame for his bullying video, and just as quickly the attention has turned to controversy.
On Friday, the mother of the Tennessee middle schooler posted a video of Keaton sobbing as he described the bullying he faced at school. In the video — which mother Kimberly Jones said Keaton had asked her to film — the boy described how other students said he was ugly and dumped milk and food on him in the lunchroom. Keaton’s mother had been called to pick him up from school because Keaton was afraid to go to lunch again.
The video Kimberly posted to her Facebook page quickly went viral, garnering more than 10 million views in less than a day and earning Keaton attention from across the country. There was even a GoFundMe page set up for the family that raised nearly $60,000.
But amid the attention, some people began digging into the social media history of Kimberly Jones and found what they believed to be racially charged posts. Some found posts where Kimberly Jones appeared to proudly display the Confederate flag. There was some questions as to whether the posts were real, and Kimberly Jones has not spoken out about her statements.
Others called the fundraiser a “money grab” by Keaton’s family, though it was not clear if his family played any part in setting up the fundraiser.
But to many of those responding to the Keaton Jones video, his family’s beliefs did not matter. On Sunday, NBA player J.R. Smith was questioned whether he still supports Keaton after the racially charged posts of the boy’s mother emerged, but Smith stood strong behind Keaton.
Others noted that supporting Keaton after his tearful bullying video was a separate matter than condoning his family’s beliefs, and pointed out that there was no proof of what the young boy believed.
The flap has also done little to slow the support for Keaton Jones. On Monday, as his viral video continued to gain traction, Keaton’s name shot to the top of Twitter’s trending terms, garnering nearly 1 million mentions. Many celebrities and athletes also expressed messages of support for the Tennessee boy, with a number of offers for help.