This offensive photo sparked a whole lot of love for the boy who deserved better.

Gerod Roth posted a photo of himself with a coworker's child last month.

And while it might not be immediately obvious why this was such a mistake, well ... let me tell you.



The initial photo, screencapped and tweeted above by Twitter user Dr. X, is seemingly adorable. But the comments and Roth's intent soon turned rather ugly.

Roth had snapped the pic of his coworker's 3-year-old son, Cayden, without his coworker's permission (already an incredibly uncool thing to do) and proceeded to use it as his profile picture. After it was posted online, his Facebook friends filled the photo's comment section with hurtful, racist "jokes":

"I didn't know you were a slave owner."

"Dude where the hell did you get a black kid??"

"Kunta Kinte."

"But Massuh, I dindu nuffin."

Roth replied in the thread, "He was feral."

Yep. Real comments from real people ... aimed at a 3-year-old. Because of his skin color.

Of course, this being on the Internet and all, Cayden's mom quickly learned about the awful things being said about her child.

The funny thing about the Internet is, things get around. And before long, Cayden's mom, Sydney Shelton, heard about what this coworker had done at her child's expense.

"He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old," Shelton told Fox 5 News, adding there was nothing funny about that post.

Roth told the outlet he was disappointed in his friends' reactions to the photo and insisted that his own comment had only been "interpreted as racist," even though he hadn't meant it that way.

Shelton wasn't buying it.

“People post things in a [joking] manner and it gets taken a completely different way," Shelton acknowledged. "But I don't believe any of these people were joking."

Instead of firing back at Roth with a few choice words, Shelton responded by letting the world see the real Cayden.

She posted several photos of her smiley, adorable son to Facebook, accompanied with the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden.

Image via Sydney Shelton/Facebook.

The Internet caught wind of #HisNameIsCayden. And unlike Roth's friends on Facebook, there were some really fabulous responses.

Some pointed to how the Internet can sometimes be a pretty amazing place...

Others gave a shoutout to Cayden's courageous mom...


Some noted how Cayden's story can serve as a refresher in online empathy...


Brands used the event to demand more from us...


And Cayden's grandma joined in, too, to celebrate her beautiful little grandson...


Britt Turner, a woman from Phoenix, was so inspired by Cayden's story that she decided to launch a GoFundMe to raise money for Cayden's college fund.

"Instead of continuing to shed light on all of the dark aspects of this horrible act, I would like to shed a lot of light onto the good things," Turner wrote on the fundraising page. "This young man has a full life ahead of him. I wanted to create this for Cayden, simply for that reason alone."

In the aftermath of the comments on the initial photo revealing Roth's penchant for racist humor, Roth has since lost his job.

Michael Da Graca Pinto, president of Polaris Marketing Group, where Roth had been employed, shared a statement on the company's Facebook page about the incident. He, too, was not happy about what had happened and assured followers that Roth had been fired on Sept. 29 (although he claimed it was due to unrelated issues at work):

"It breaks my heart that Sydney and her adorable son Cayden were subjected to such hateful, ignorant and despicable behavior. Cayden visits my office almost every afternoon after daycare, he's sat at my dinner table and I consider him a part of the PMG family. The atrocious lies, slander and racism he and his mother have been forced to endure are wholly intolerable. Myself and the entire PMG family in no way condones this kind of behavior and would never willingly associate with anyone who does."

Sometimes the Internet can be a truly awful place...

But the times when overwhelming love trumps mean-spirited hate, victory tastes so sweet. Keep being awesome, Cayden.

This article has been updated.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Last year, we shared the sad impact that plastic pollution has had on some of our planet's most beautiful places. With recycling not turning out to be the savior it was made out to be, solutions to our growing plastic problem can seem distant and complex.

We have seen some glimmers of hope from both human innovation and nature itself, however. In 2016, a bacteria that evolved with the ability to break down plastic was discovered in a Japanese waste site. Two years later, scientists managed to engineer the mutant plastic-eating enzyme they called PETase—named for polyethylene terephthalate, the most common plastic found in bottles and food packaging—in a lab.

Here's an explainer of how those enzymes work:

Ending Plastic Pollution with Designer Bacteria youtu.be

Now researchers have revealed another game-changer in the plastic-eater—a super-enzyme that can break down plastic six times faster than PETase alone.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather has become a beloved voice of reason, knowledge, and experience for many Americans on social media the past few years. At 88, Rather has seen more than most of us, and as a journalist, he's had a front row seat as modern history has played out. He combines that lifetime of experience and perspective with an eloquence that hearkens to a time when eloquence mattered, he called us to our common American ideals with his book "What Unites Us," and he comforts many of is with his repeated message to stay "steady" through the turmoil the U.S. has been experiencing.

All of that is to say, when Dan Rather sounds the alarm, you know we've reached a critical historical moment.

Yesterday, President Trump again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election when directly asked if he would—yet another democratic norm being toppled. Afterward, Rather posted the following words of wisdom—and warning—to his nearly three million Facebook fans:


Keep Reading Show less
via DanielandDavid2 / Instagram

Editor's Note: We used "black" in lowercase for our headline and the body of this story in accordance with emerging guidelines from the Associated Press and other trusted news outlets who are using uppercase "Black" in reference to American descendants of the diaspora of individuals forcibly brought from Africa as slaves. As part of our ongoing efforts to be transparent and communicate choices with our readership, we've included this note for clarity. The original story begins below.

On February 26, 2019, Stacy and Babajide Omirin of Lagos, Nigeria got quite the shock. When Stacy delivered identical twins through C-section one came out black and the other, white.

The parents knew they were having identical twins and expected them to look exactly the same. But one has a white-looking complexion and golden, wavy hair.

"It was a massive surprise," Stacy told The Daily Mail. "Daniel came first, and then the nurse said the second baby has golden hair. I thought how can this be possible. I looked down and saw David, he was completely white."

Keep Reading Show less