Some of the Facebook commenters who posted racist remarks about a three-year-old Black child have released apologies after being terminated from their jobs.
The story of the trending hashtag #HisNameIsCayden began last week, when Facebook user Gerod Roth (Geris Hilton on the site)posted a photo of himself with Cayden Jenkins, the son of his co-worker, Sydney Shelton.
After making the photo his profile picture, many of his friends wrote racist comments about the child, calling him “Kunta Kinte” and using slave jokes. Roth did little to extinguish the raced-based jokes, adding himself that the child “was feral.”
“A person said, ‘Oh, you mean to tell me that you just have wild kids running through your office building?’ And that’s when I said ‘he was feral.’ That was interpreted as racist and that, honestly, was not my intention whatsoever,” Roth told Fox 5 Atlanta.
Earlier this week, Roth was fired from his position at Polaris Marketing Group in Atlanta. In addition to Roth’s firing, another commenter who goes by the name Emily Irene Red was reportedly terminated from her position at The Conch Republic restaurant.
@tyriquex Just spoke to the manager of The Conch Republic Grill. Emily Irene was fired today. He says they were "appalled" by her remarks.
Tim Zheng, the Facebook user who called the toddler “Kunta Kinte” in Roth’s comments, also apologized for his actions. Sharing a story about his immigrant parents and the racism they faced, Zheng now claims he’s learned from his actions. But Cayden’s supporters weren’t buying his apology, especially after old posts of Zheng’s mocking the Black Lives Matter movement were uncovered.
Shelton is grateful for the support she’s received since the hashtag’s inception. Speaking with Fox 5 Atlanta, the mother stated Roth never mentioned the comments to her, or even asked to take a photo with her son weeks before it caught attention online.
“He is not a deaf child. He is not mute. He has never been abandoned. He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old,” Shelton said in response to comments made on the post.
Roth emailed Shelton an apology, but she doesn’t believe it’s sincere.