An Atlanta man was fired from Polaris Marketing Group last week after he posted racist comments on a Facebook picture of himself and a coworker’s African-American son.
Gerod Roth, who was listed on Facebook as Geris Hilton, posted a selfie with Sydney Shelton’s 3-year-old son Cayden on Sept. 16. Roth’s friends soon started making extremely racist comments on the picture, saying things like, “I didn’t know you were a slave owner” and “But Massuh, I dindu nuffin.” Roth himself commented that Cayden “was feral.” The post has since been deleted, but not before countless screengrabs were taken.
After Roth was fired, his post went viral and the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden began trending on Twitter.
Michael Da Graca Pinto, president of PMG, released a statement on the company’s Facebook page Friday, saying that he was “disgusted” to learn about the offensive comments.
“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,” Pinto wrote. “The atrocious lies, slander and racism he and his mother have been forced to endure are wholly intolerable.”
Shelton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she is glad Roth was fired and thankful for all of the support she has received since the post went public.
“I never thought that it would get this big,” she said. “I never imagined something like this happening in a million years. At 25, I am just trying to work and support my son.”
Shelton shared several pictures of her and Cayden on her own Facebook page, writing, “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.”
According to the Journal-Constitution, Roth was also fired from YourEDM, where he worked as Geris Hilton, and several of the racist commenters have been fired from their jobs as well.
“I just really feel upset, not only with myself, but also the character that was based off the comments that my friends had made,” Roth told Atlanta’s FOX 5 News. “Cayden has been victimized but I have been targeted.”
He also claimed to have asked one of his Facebook friends to stop making racist remarks, and said he emailed Shelton an apology, but Shelton told FOX 5 that it didn’t seem sincere.
“People post things in a [joking] manner and it gets taken a completely different way but I don’t believe any of these people were joking,” Shelton said.