The mother of bullied Tennessee preteen Keaton Jones responded to photos showing her posing with a Confederate flag, saying that the whole thing was intended to be "funny" and that there's not a racist bone in her body.
As CBS News reports, Keaton and his mom, Kimberly Jones, spoke to the network Tuesday morning to address the controversy. Keaton, you may remember, became a viral sensation this week after his mother recorded a video of him tearfully describing the bullying he endures at school on a daily basis.
"I had enough of it. They had said that someone was going to beat me up in lunch so I texted my mom and I said 'what do I do here?'"
After posting the video, Keaton drew sympathy worldwide, from regular people and celebrities alike. Crowdfunding campaigns have been started in his name. He's even been invited to hobnob with actor Chris Evans at the premiere of the next Avengers movie.
But there's a problem: photos of Kimberly posing with a Confederate flag have surfaced, and that has caused several of the family's supporters to re-think their positions. To some, the flag is a symbol of pride and heritage, while to others, it's a symbol of racism and oppression. Needless to say, it's created a huge wrinkle in this story's narrative, with some suggesting that the family is racist and doesn't deserve the praise and attention they're getting.
Keaton Jones' Mother Defends Confederate Flag Photos https://t.co/cHfHcHZmdH
— TMZ (@TMZ) December 12, 2017
Kimberly's having none of that. Speaking to Mark Strassmann, she explained that her social media history will clearly show that she's not particularly fond of the Confederate flag, and any photos showing her or her family with it are meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
"The only two photos -- the only two photos on my entire planet that I am anywhere near a Confederate flag. It was ironic. It was funny."
She also vehemently denies having any racist tendencies.
"I spent most of my life being bullied and judged because I wasn't racist."
— 1017 Flockatrent (@flockaTrent) December 11, 2017
Meanwhile, according to Salon, Keaton's story has also raised questions about the authenticity of crowdfunding efforts started in his name. Similarly, MMA fighter Joe Schilling posted a video in which he claims to have spoken to Kimberly, and he concluded that "she just wants money."
Despite his mother's motivations and possible racism, several celebrities, such as actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, are standing by Keaton, resolute in their message that Keaton is a bullied kid and deserves sympathy.
Keaton didn't get to choose the family that raised & shaped him, you smug ghoul. How 'bout showing him that people of all races & creeds can come together? Change things, maybe? Show him a better world? https://t.co/BZqBEboabL
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 11, 2017
Despite all of the controversy, Keaton believes that recording and posting the video was the right thing.
"It made me feel like I had accomplished something real. Something that could actually change the world."