A Shreveport, Louisiana, woman is outraged after a Christmas photo of her young son with a racist caption surfaced on social media this week.
The photo in question shows a pair of white teens carrying Sharon Martin’s 5-year-old child during a holiday event at Byrd High School, local TV station KTBS reports. A screen grab of the now-deleted post shows the offensive caption, which read: “A Ghetto Christmas Carrol.”
It hit a nerve with the young boy’s family, who deemed the post racist and inappropriate.
“‘Ghetto Christmas Carol.’ Really? Ghetto?” Martin told the station. “Why? Because he’s black?”
The frustrated mother said she doesn’t know if it was intended as a joke, but that she didn’t find it very funny.
“I don’t get it. I didn’t get it,” she added. “Like, why would they just write that? They could’ve left the ghetto part out and I would’ve been probably okay with it.”
The boy’s cousin, Danny Martin, was equally upset by the photo.
“He’s 5 years old,” he told the station. “He doesn’t know what’s going on. He doesn’t know about all the comments, posts on social media. He doesn’t know that. So it’s my job as his cousin to protect him from seeing that and also to protect any other child that’s affected by this that’s been happening anywhere in Shreveport.”
The child’s mother explained she never gave the school consent to take photos of her son and doesn’t know why he was at the event in the first place.
Amid the furor, the mother of the teen responsible for the caption came forward and apologized for the incident.
“Our son was referring to the title of a song that is popular among teens,” the woman wrote in a statement to KTBS, insisting he didn’t intend to be “malicious or hurtful to anyone, especially the child photographed.”
She went on to say she and her husband agreed that cultural sensitivity counseling “is warranted” for their son and that he’s already written a letter to Martin’s son apologizing.
The Caddo Parish School Board, which oversees Byrd High School, also responded to the controversy, saying it took “immediate action” upon learning of the photo.
The child’s family is grateful for the quick response but doesn’t want that to overshadow the bigger issue.
“This is not going to get pushed under the rug,” Danny Martin said. “He’s going to actually get somebody to speak up for him.”