Keaton Jones and Mother Address Bullying Backlash, Accusations of Racism

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On Tuesday morning, Tennessee middle school student Keaton Jones became an Internet hero after he explained, tearfully, on camera that he's been the victim of horrible bullying for several weeks now.

Just a few hours later, the mother of Keaton Jones became an Internet villain.

In an odd story that sort of sums up the craziness of 2017, Jones sobbed into his mother's phone that he was afraid to go to lunch due to the way he was treated by fellow students.

He then tried to be strong and tried to send a positive message of hope to other victims of bullying.

You can watch the video here:

It quickly went viral, with celebrities from all industries sending Keaton positive thoughts and inviting him to special events such as UFC pay-per-views and big-time movie premieres.

It appeared to be a sad story, but also an uplifting one with a happy ending.

However, later on Tuesday, Internet sleuths delved into the social media history of Keaton's mother, Kimberly, and discovered a few controversial posts.

There was a Facebook photo, for instance, of the family posing with Confederate flags.

As a result, GoFundMe placed a campaign on pause that had raised $57,000 for Keaton and his loved ones.

There are now questions over whether the entire video was set up by Kimberly just to make her family lots of money.

jones

In response to this scandal, both Keaton and his mom sat down for a pair of interviews this week.

“The only two photos - the only two photos on my entire planet that I am anywhere near a Confederate flag. It was ironic,” Kimberly told CBS News this morning, adding that there was no racist intent behind the images.

“I’ve said I spent most of my life being bullied and judged because I wasn’t racist...

“It was meant to be ironic and funny … I am genuinely truly sorry. If I could take it back, I would.”

Keaton says in the original video that bullies "make fun of my nose. They call me ugly. They say I have no friends."

And the 11-year old reiterated those claims to CBS, basically saying the video was his idea:

"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?’"

This is one of the controversial photos in question, shared by Kimberly earlier this year:

Kimberly Jones Photo

Talking to The Today Show, she said:

"Yesterday [Keaton] was a hero. You know, the world loved us. Today, the world hates us...

"I'm trying really hard to think that I was trying not to get caught up in the positives. So, we're not going to get caught up in the negatives." 

It's unclear at the moment what will happen to the money earmarked for the Jones's on GoFundMe.

But Kimberly’s daughter, Lakyn, defended her mother in a now-deleted Twitter post, writing:

“To those who think my mother is a racist, she is not. She is a southern woman who loves where she’s from. She believes in equality and doesn’t want any harm done to ANYONE.

"This is about bullying and my brother. Not her. Please leave it alone.”

Watch excerpts from the Today interview with mother and son below:

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