The white man who was fired after calling a black co-worker’s child a derogatory term under a picture that he posted to his Facebook has attempted to explain himself in wake of online uproar.
Gerod Roth uploaded a picture of himself and three-year-old Cayden Jace to Facebook on Sept. 16. The seemingly innocent picture of the two quickly received a host of racist comments from Roth’s friends who insinuated that the boy was a slave, hungry, and poor in addition to likening him to Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s Roots.
Though it appears that Roth never posted a caption with the picture, the now former Polaris Marketing Group employee, joined the conversation and responded to a friend who asked where exactly Jace came from. “He was feral,” Roth said. An image of a private Facebook chat between a friend and Roth, who went by Geris Hilton on the website, saw the person ask why exactly the toddler was feral. Roth responded, “Because he was abandoned in the Atlanta projects, to fend for himself, he is deaf mute, ca’t (sic) properly communicate and is in and out of a shelter home, that is the definition of feral.”
After the slanderous comments went public via the release of screenshots, PMG president Michael Da Graca Pinto, immediately terminated Roth. Now Roth is speaking out about his firing and the post that he claims was simply taken out of context.
In an interview with Fox 5 Atlanta, Roth said, “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.”
The marketing executive claims that he set the picture as his profile picture because he needed a shot that did not feature his girlfriend who, at the time, was undergoing a social media fast as she interviewed for a new job. Roth said that he left the website untouched for an extended period of time and was shocked to read the comments left by his friends when he returned. Some of Roth’s friends have also lost their jobs as a result of the heinous comments.
Though Roth sent Sydney Shelton, Jace’s 25-year-old mother, a lengthy apology via email, the single parent is still understandably hurt. “I do everything I can to make sure that he doesn’t want or need for anything so to see people, grown people bashing a small helpless child breaks my heart,” she said.
The nearly month old picture has ignited a national firestorm as the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden was created by a Detroit woman, Ife Johari, who saw the disturbing screenshots and wanted to give his mother the platform to inform the world of who her son really is.
Jace’s mother is grateful for the outpouring of support. She shared on Facebook, “Cayden and I truly appreciate all of the love that we have been shown in the last 24 hours. You guys warm my heart, more than words could ever express. This little guy has every piece of my heart, he is my world and #HisNameIsCayden.”
Watch Roth’s interview below: