Over the weekend, a video of Keaton Jones, an 11-year-old Tennessee middle schooler who broke down crying about the bullying he was experiencing at school, went viral. The video won the hearts of millions, including Rihanna, Millie Bobby Brown, Snoop Dog and Chris Evans.
But yesterday (December 11), screenshots surfaced of Keaton’s mother, Kimberly’s, Facebook page. She posted photos on her page of her children holding the Confederate flag and mocking Black people.
There’s also an unconfirmed story making the rounds that Keaton repeatedly called one of his Black peers the n-word, prompting the other kids to band together to make him stop.
The now suspended GoFundMe account (that reportedly was not directly affiliated with the Jones family) created in Keaton’s name raised more than $56,000. We don’t know why this boy is being bullied, who his mother is as a person, or if she holds violent and racist beliefs. But that’s not the point.
After the reports about the Jones family came out, the internet resurfaced two recent stories. Rosalie Avila, a 13-year-old Californian, hanged herself the first week of December after being bullied by her peers. Her parents said she became reclusive after being bullied at school and on social media. And Ashawnty Davis, 10-year-old a fifth grader from Colorado, died from suicide in November. She, too, hanged herself after being bullied.
Initially, the Avila family’s GoFundMe page only raised $29,000. But this week, contributions more than doubled to more than $62,000. The Davis family has also raised more money as the campaign has bee recirculated.
Among younger children, 36 percent of suicide deaths involved a Black child. Those deaths represent 11.6 percent of deaths among early adolescents, while Black people make up about 13.3 percent of the total population. Latina teens have the highest rate of suicide attempts among teenage females nationwide. According to the journal Pediatrics, younger children who die by suicide are most likely to be Black boys who hang or suffocate to death.
Let the cruel irony of those statistics sink in.
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied behind this little boy and his family for no reason at all other than he said he was being bullied. But thousands of Black and Brown kids aren’t just being bullied—they’re taking their own lives because they are being bullied. We live in a society that will rally behind white tears in a second, but turns a blind eye to Black and Brown pain. A child should never be subjected to ridicule, but it’s important to understand why certain children are afforded more empathy than others.
We shouldn’t wait to see the blood on the leaves before we offer our support and money to the children who are most in need.