A white employee at an Atlanta-based marketing firm was fired after his Facebook friends left racist comments on a picture he posted of himself with a black child.
Gerod Roth, an employee of Polaris Marketing Group, snapped a photograph with his colleague’s 3-year-old son Cayden Jenkins and posted it to Facebook on Sept. 16.
Immediately after posting, Roth’s friends inundated the photo with a string of bigoted jibes.
“I didn’t know you were a slave owner,” read one remark.
“But Massuh, I dindu nuffin,” another commenter wrote, while also calling the young boy “Kunta Kinte.”
Roth, who goes by the name Geris Hilton on Facebook, eventually replied to one of the derogatory comments.
“Dude where the hell did you get a black kid??” a friend asked.
“He was feral,” Roth responded.
He was subsequently terminated from his job at Polaris Marketing Group. The president of the company, Michael Da Graca Pinto, called the Facebook comments “disgusting,” but maintains that Roth’s termination had nothing to do with the social media controversy.
The post has since been deleted from Facebook.
Sydney Shelton, the mother of 3-year-old Cayden Jenkins, brings her son to work regularly after school and was unaware that Roth took a picture with him.
Shelton told FOX 5 that she was deeply saddened to see the incendiary comments people made about her son. She is grateful, however, that people from around the globe are reaching out and showing her support and the #HisNameIsCayden movement is now gaining attention online.
Shelton’s employer, Polaris Marketing Group, is also accepting gifts for the boy, whose birthday is later this month.
Roth contends that the entire post was taken out of context, but admits to making one remark on the thread.
“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 WAGA-TV on Monday.
“I just really feel upset, not only with myself, but also with the character that was based on the comments my friends made,” Roth said. “I feel as if, not only poor Cayden himself has been victimized, but also myself for being targeted.”
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