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Meme targets school equity coordinator

A meme showing Isle of Wight County Schools’ coordinator of equity and inclusion, Kiyaana Cox-Jones, in a pose some commenters are calling a Nazi salute has begun circulating on social media.

The photo, which shows Jones in a gray and khaki outfit with her right hand and arm extended against a white background, is from her profile on artistecard.com, a website that allows musicians and DJs to create their own electronic press kits.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton was quick to condemn the meme, calling it an attempt to demonize her.

“Those who have stopped to get to know Mrs. Jones are aware that she is heavily involved in theater and church productions,” Thornton wrote on the school division’s Facebook page July 21.

This particular photo is from a step routine Jones performed between the years 2013 and 2015 in a church production called “Soldiers in the Army of the Lord,” he explained. Greater Shiloh Church of Easton, Pa., confirmed to The Smithfield Times that Jones had indeed starred in that production and called her “a woman of God.”

“It is shameful that there are members of this community that are trying to run a new employee out of the county because they look different than them, have different views than them and are willing to share those views publicly,” Thornton said.

Tim Stephenson, a resident of Smithfield, commented on Thornton’s Facebook remarks, appearing to take responsibility for creating the meme.

“Mrs. Cox-Jones, I owe you an apology,” he wrote. “I posted something about you in regards to a picture that looks like you are giving a Nazi salute. I have since found out different. I expressed my opinion and I was wrong. Would you please accept my apology and I am addressing the post I made and working to remove any mention of it. What a person looks like on the outside means nothing to me, it is what a person has on the inside that we all benefit from. Once again I am very sorry to have done what I have done.”