Gerod Roth, the man who posted a photograph of himself and his co-worker’s three-year-old son Cayden Jenkins that ended up being the subject of racist jokes on facebook, has released an lengthy apology for his actions on his facebook account. The comments included:
- I didn’t know you were a slave owner.
- Help feeed this pour child today
- But Massuh, I dindu nuffin
- I’ll feed you but first let me take a selfie
- Pls tell me his name is Toby???
- kunta…kunta kinte
- Dud where the hell did you get a black kid??
- Send him back dude those f*ckers are expensive
- *takes picture* with your donation of 32.75 you can help save a life. …okay, get out of her kid, I’m tryina’a look good on Facebook.
The post has since been deleted from Facebook.Gerod was later fired from his job.
You can read Gerod’s entire essay here:
If you are reading this, there is a fairly good chance you think I am deplorable, and with good reason. But before you further the hate that you’ve heard, please hear me out.
Over the last week, I have been subject to the harsh words of the masses, locally, nationally as well as internationally, over a picture I had made as my public profile photo. The picture in question, harmlessly enough, depicted me with a co-worker’s son, the little boy’s name was Cayden.
Cayden’s mother, Sydney, was an employee of the Polaris Marketing Group office I managed hiring and HR operations for, an employee which I had personally sought out to screen, interview, and hire as a full-time staff member. Sydney would regularly bring Cayden in to the office after daycare, he would run around and play, sit quietly and play games on his mother’s phone, or interact and play with myself and my own daughter when she was in the office.
One day, after work, Sydney brought Cayden into the office as per usual, while she went in to the conference room for a meeting I watched Cayden for her. We played catch, chased each other around the office, and played the Minions game on my phone. Cayden asked to take a picture with me, so I obliged and snapped a selfie of us.
A couple days later, my lovely girlfriend was going through her final interview process for a large, prestigious company, she asked me to remove the picture of her from my profile pic as she was doing a social media blackout while they researched her online. Being the well-trained boyfriend that I am, I willingly participated. Considering I like to capture most of my favorite life moments on film, my camera roll is filled with over 10k pictures, most of her and I together, the closest picture to the end without her in it, was none other than the one I took of Cayden and myself. I made the picture my profile photo, having zero knowledge or premonition that he would be viciously ripped apart and demonized by random internet acquaintances.
It was at this time that Cayden was ruthlessly torn into by those on my friends list, although they made jokes, it was entirely uncalled for. The top or second comment had someone asking “whose adorable kid is that”, in which I replied “It’s my coworkers son, I am watching him while she is in a meeting”, to which they reply “You mean to tell me you just have random kids running wild in your office suite?” and I stated “He was feral”. Never, in a million years, would I ever put any connotation or insinuate that he was feral based off the color of his skin, the nature of his ethnicity, or his descent. The following statement, was meant to be light and playful, and in NO WAY racist or prejudice, I have referred to my own daughter as wild or feral on many instances when she is running around, merely just being the child that she is. It was at that point in time that this comment was cropped out of said photo to edit and doctor the original post to maliciously skew my image as a vile person and open racist, again, this post was doctored and taken out of it’s context in it’s entirety.
Upon the slew of commenters from all ethnicities blindly cracking jokes at Cayden’s expense, I put my foot down and stated that people need to stop, due to the fact that they were commenting on a public profile picture, which all of the people in my professional network on FB as well as Sydney herself can see. Upon stating this, these individuals we’re removed from my friend’s list asap as to not associate.
A day passed and I was able to change my profile picture back to usual, my mistake itself was not deleting the picture itself or the comments, this left me vulnerable and open to be targeted for a “Troll”. After a 6 day trip with very limited cellular coverage, I came back to Atlanta and resumed to normal life as usual for about a day. On Tuesday, I started noticing a large influx of friend requests with no mutual friends, although odd, I though nothing of it and continued on with my day. Waking up Wednesday morning was when all of the pieces finally started coming together.
Upon waking up, I noticed that Facebook had removed the photo after numerous reports from users. My friend request inbox was up to the brim of unknowns trying to make their way into my profile, as well as my “other messages” inbox was spewing with dismay and hate from people far and wide. After a barrage of texts and calls from people telling me what was going on, I took to Twitter, only to find the doctored screenshots from the original profile picture, skewed, misconstrued, falsified and aimed directly at me, targeting myself as the canvas for racism and bigotry, as well as poor Cayden being victimized to the general public.
My first emotions were overwhelming, I was angry, betrayed, disappointed, saddened and scared, I honestly did not know what to think. My first thought was “Who dislikes me to the extent where they would go out of their way to falsify the content of my character and depict me as some type of bigoted monster” and my second thought was “why me…”. After over 100k retweets, trends on Twitter, Insta and FB and mostly all major news outlets picking the story up, as well as the loss of jobs, I was left in the shadows and made a victim of someone’s malicious intent to bully myself for unwarranted reasons, and doing their all to ruin my reputation, name and livelihood over something that was inaccurate and completely fake.
At this point and time, I have numerous interviews with major media sources waiting to be conducted as well as published, the only thing I can do to help slow the roll of this by offering whatever I can to help Sydney as well as Cayden. They are both people that I consider friends and a part of our work family. I have reached out to Sydney twice now, stating my regret and apologizing sincerely, and offered to do anything possible to make amends. In the future I would love to see this turn into something positive for both Sydney and Cayden, I would like nothing more than to our collective online presence turn this into something beneficial for both of them as well as to help curb both online bullying and remove the veil of anonymity that many hide behind whilst ridiculing or harassing people on the internet for any reason.
For anyone who this has affected in a negative manner either in my personal and professional life, I am beyond words by how sorry I am of the outcome. I can say that I truly did try my best to curb the racism in the thread and took every opportunity available to to take a stand and tell others to stop. I am sorry to the employers who have had this negative and falsified impression of myself tied or affiliated with their respective businesses in any way. I am sorry to the people who were heartbroken to see Cayden victimized in that manner, I am right there with you. I am sorry to the friends and family who immediately contacted me out of fear and worry over the situation. But most of all, I am sorry to Sydney and Cayden, this entire fiasco was never meant to cause any harm,bigotry, racism, or negative demeanor from anyone for any reason whatsoever, and know that I did do my all to stop people from making these comments. I know my apology will take a long time to be accepted, but I wanted my side to be known.
To the friends, family, and acquaintances that have reached out to me, confident in my character and fully knowing that I would NEVER allow this to happen on my public profile or any other social media platform, I tremendously appreciate your love and support. Those that know me or are barely even acquainted with me are fully aware that I am an open, accepting human being, someone who would never discriminate against anyone for any reason and is always willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt. Not only have these cherished people revealed their support and shown me love in undesirable conditions, they vouched for my character and truly gave me the support I needed when the entire world was out to get me.
However on the contrary, the true colors of people I have long considered to be “friends” or “on my side” have followed suit with the popular trend of everyone else forwarding information blindly without any verification or even asking me what is going on, throwing accusations, considering myself as a”failure” or “someone to be weary of”. Fair-weather friendship is common practice, but I never realized that some of the closest people to me would heed the words of random instigators online as opposed to coming to me personally and asking me about the situation. I have always been one to forgive and forget, but it will take a considerable amount of time considering those individuals abandoned me in my darkest hour, and instead of throwing a life vest, threw an anvil on top of me.
To the culprits who are already under investigation for cropping the photos and making this go viral, as well as the independent news sources who blindly forwarded and ran the story with 0 acknowledgement, you will pay for your actions to the fullest extent of the law. Libel and Slander are serious issues, especially when they negatively affect the livelihood and future of an individual who did nothing wrong and was targeted for the sole purpose of online bullying and harassment.
The day will come when my PR and legal team can rest, where I can look back without the fear of going outside, people constantly sending death threats, or people showing up to my house, treating the safety of myself and my family. The storm will pass, but it starts with being open-minded and willing to accept the side of the story not yet told and severely overlooked.
Together we can achieve something greater, and turn this into something positive, not just for Cayden, but for future generations.
#HisNameIsCayden #GerisHilton #GerodRoth
If the posts were manipulated, ask Facebook to put back the picture to prove what he is saying is true. What are your thoughts? Post your comments below.