Gerod Roth, who is white, caused a shit storm of controversy late last week after changing his personal Facebook profile pic to one of him and an African American work colleague’s 3-year-old son.
Roth was subsequently fired from his job at Polaris Marketing Group after a bunch of his asshole friends left a slew of insulting and racist comments under the photo—including, calling the little boy “Sambo,” “a slave,” “Kunta Kinte” and “a deaf mute.”
The father-of-one even got in on the act himself—referring to Cayden Jenkins, as “feral”—but, has since claimed he didn’t intend the term to be taken in a racist manner.
Following his firing, Roth apologized for his actions, attempted to explain what happened, and managed to play the victim card himself, all during one interview, with local news affiliate, FOX 5 News.
“I just really feel upset, not only with myself, but also the character that was based off the comments that my friends had made. Cayden has been victimized but I have been targeted,” Roth said, going on to explain away his “feral” comment. “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 insists that he chided one of his buddies for talking racist shit about a 3-year-old child, but that his comment was cropped out of the Facebook screen grab that subsequently went viral and resulted in his firing.
Not surprisingly, Cayden’s mother, Sydney Shelton, said she was heartbroken to see the ignorant and hateful spew directed at her young son on her (now former) colleague’s Facebook page.
The single mom, who brings Cayden to the office after his school finishes each day, told FOX 5 News that she had no idea Roth had taken a photo of her son, and posted it on Facebook—and, if the barrage of racist comments were meant to have been made in jest, then she fails to see the funny side.
“People post things in a jokingly manner and it gets taken a completely different way but I don't believe any of these people were joking,” Shelton said.
“He is not a deaf child. He is not mute,” Shelton continued. “He has never been abandoned. He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old.”
Now he has a lot of free time on his hands, Roth whipped up a lengthy email apology to Shelton (with plenty of self pity and lame-ass excuses littered throughout), but, she told FOX 5 that it doesn’t appear to be sincere, and that she has yet to muster up the words to respond.
Hi Sydney, I just wanted to reach out to you personally to express my upmost and sincerest apologies. This entire situation was absolutely blown out of proportion and misconstrued to a point where it is almost unrepairable.
To make a long story short, A few weeks back my girlfriend was applying for a new position so she went on a social media blackout and asked me to remove her from my profile picture, when I opened up my photos tab there was the picture of Cayden and myself that he had asked me to take when I was hanging out with him while you were in hang back.
Since it was the first photo that I came across where my girlfriend and I were not present together I decided to make it my profile picture because it was adorable. However after a period of inactivity on Facebook I came back only to realize that many members of my network on my friends list were spreading hate and being disgusting in their actions, to which I instantly removed them from my friends list.
To top it off, when the photo was screen capped they made sure to Photoshop out the first two comments, the first comment was a friend asking who's child that was because he was so cute, in which I replied "I'm hanging out with him while my coworker is in a meeting, he is my little buddy." At that point someone chimed in asking if we just have tons of children running around our office which is where you saw the reply that I said he was feral.
Once the photo started gaining momentum on social media, people were going crazy in the picking me as some type of monster, I asked multiple times on Twitter white people were demonizing me over a picture of me and my friends child but to no avail. Late yesterday morning people started really throwing fuel on the fire by creating fake Twitter and Facebook accounts with my picture and name and started bashing people saying things that were entirely untrue and unwarranted, which is exactly how the fake conversation of a girl talking with me about the child being deaf came about.
As I said, the entire situation grew wildly out-of-control but from the very beginning literally the only thing that I wanted was just to have the cute picture of me and your son up while my girlfriend was going through her final interview process.
Words truly cannot describe my sympathy and shame as I am beyond words by how embarrassing this whole fiasco is, I never meant to hurt you or Cayden, I would feel the exact same way if anyone ever came after my daughter Adalei like that as well, to say that I am ashamed and my choice of friends and not taking a better course of action is a massive understatement.
It may be too soon, but I did just want to let you know this entire fiasco has been created due to the people that I called friends and their harsh words online, I was let go from both of my positions of work, and now have a tarnished name and reputation due to the actions of the individuals that were commenting on that picture as well as the people who decided to make fake profiles to help instigate the situation even further into a disaster.
I know the situation as a whole is a lot to handle. And I'm sure you were getting word of it from every direction, but just know that I would never ever willingly put a child on a pedestal to let people openly chastise and ridicule him. Is a very specific reason why I brought you in for a preliminary interview with us and gave you the green my through our hiring process, you're very persistent and strong and have an extremely bright future ahead of you, I feel beyond terrible that this is what I am pretrade as now to you as well as everyone else in the African-American community.
I don't expect you to except my apology or even read this for that matter, but I did want to let you know that I am sincerely apologetic and disgusted with the way that everything turned out, if there is anything at all that I can do for you or Kayden, please let me know and I would be more than happy to make it happen.
Some good has come out of the situation however—people from around the world have been responding to the #HisNameIsCayden social media movement that sprung up following the controversy, and Shelton told FOX 5 that she’s thankful for the love and support it’s been generating.
Meanwhile, Polaris Marketing Group, is accepting birthday gifts for Cayden, who turns 4 later this month.