Sydney Jade/facebook

#HisNameIsCayden: Positivity flows in for young victim of racist Facebook comments

Never. Read. The. Comments.


Marianne Kirby


Published Oct 6, 2015   Updated May 27, 2021, 8:41 pm CDT

When Gerod Roth posted a photo of himself and a coworker’s black son to Facebook last month, he probably didn’t think he’d be fired just a few weeks later.

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Roth (whose Facebook account is under the name Geris Hilton) posted the now-deleted photo of his coworker’s three-year-old child while at work. The act of taking and posting a photo of another person’s child online without permission could be considered inappropriate to begin with. Roth’s friends upped the ante, however, by leaving a series of racially-charged comments mocking the child.

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Comments included, “Help feed this poor child today,” “Dude where the hell did you get a black kid??” and “But Massuh, I dindu nuffin.” There is also a description, from Roth, of the child being feral.

Twitter users began investigating the identities of the racist commenters. But blogger Ife Johari went in another direction: she tracked down the boy’s mother, Sydney Shelton, and got to speak with her.

Shelton posted a response on her own Facebook wall on October 3, complete with photos of the little boy. She ended the post with a hashtag that made it clear how she’d rather see the story framed: #HisNameIsCayden. Cayden is a happy and healthy three-year-old who joins his mom at work after daycare, which is how Roth had access to take his photograph.

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The hashtag has gained popularity and has attracted attention. In fact, the situation garnered enough attention that when Roth’s two employers, Polaris Marketing Group and YourEDM, found out about the post, Roth lost both his jobs.

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And he isn’t the only one who paid the price. Commenter Emily Irene Red, who wrote “I didn’t know you were a slave owner” on Roth’s post was also fired.

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Roth has gone on record as saying he didn’t think Sydney would mind the picture and that his comment about Cayden being feral was a joke. He told Fox News:

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“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’s original post, along with its comments, has been deleted, but he also claimed he told one of the several commenters to stop being racist. He also said has sent an apology to Shelton via email and she has not responded.

Polaris Marketing Group has declined further comment but they’ve also posted a link to “Racism in the Workplace. It Stops With You.” Meanwhile, Shelton’s best friend has organized a scholarship fund for Cayden and Polaris Marketing Group is accepting gifts for Cayden, whose birthday is next month.

H/T The Root | Photo via Sydney Jade/Facebook

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*First Published: Oct 6, 2015, 6:00 pm CDT