- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A female writer and producer with The Root has accused the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Hollywood director John Singleton of sexual harassment.

Danielle Young wrote about the alleged encounters in an essay for The Root website, titled, “Don’t Let the Smile Fool You. I’m Cringing on the Inside.” She said she was working for an unidentified media company when she was given the opportunity to take a photo with Mr. Jackson after he gave a “riveting and inspiring speech.”

“One by one, we stepped up, shared a few words and thank-yous with Jackson, snapped photos and went back to our desks. Simple enough, right?” Ms. Young wrote. “I walked toward Jackson, smiling, and he smiled back at me. His eyes scanned my entire body. All of a sudden, I felt naked in my sweater and jeans. As I walked within arm’s reach of him, Jackson reached out a hand and grabbed my thigh, saying, ‘I like all of that right there!’ and gave my thigh a tight squeeze.”

Ms. Young said she was shocked by the civil rights activist’s audacity, but laughed it off like “most women in an uncomfortable position do.”

“I giggled,” she wrote. “And I continued to giggle as he pulled me in closer, stared down at my body, smiled and told me he was only kidding. The entire time, my co-worker snapped photos.”

Ms. Young included photos of the alleged encounter in her post, which showed her smiling in an embrace with Mr. Jackson.

“I personally never wanted to say anything because my situation was just a thigh grab. Barely a blip on anyone’s radar, even my own,” she wrote. “My silence gave Jackson permission to continue grabbing at the next pair of thick thighs he liked. I’m hoping that my voice does the opposite.”

Mr. Jackson responded to the allegation through his representative.

“Although Rev. Jackson does not recall the meeting three years ago, he profoundly and sincerely regrets any pain Ms. Young may have experienced,” he said in a statement to The Root.

Ms. Young wrote about another alleged incident a few months ago at American Black Film Festival involving Mr. Singleton, who directed classic inner-city dramas like “Boyz n the Hood” and “Higher Learning.”

She said she had just wrapped up her interview with Mr. Singleton when he grabbed her by the wrist to pull her close and said, “Bring that juiciness over here.”

She said she later agreed to take a photo with Mr. Singleton when he allegedly grabbed her again.

“He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me into him, saying, ‘Oooh, I’m gonna grab on tight to you.’ I laughed, because that’s what I do when I am uncomfortable, and snapped the photo,” she wrote.

Ms. Young uploaded the photo to Instagram at the time, making light of Mr. Singleton’s alleged behavior in the photo’s caption — a move her therapist called a defense mechanism.

“For me, it was a mix of two things: the casualness of his advances and the way no one in the room reacted,” she wrote. “I normalized it and made myself believe it was no big deal. Singleton was just being a man.”

Mr. Singleton declined to comment to The Root.

Ms. Young wrote that she’s tired of blaming herself for the unwanted sexual attention.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I was warned about dirty old men, but not in a way that held them responsible — it was often in a way that made sure I steered clear or that I dressed and behaved appropriately enough so as not to attract their attention,” she said. “This was embedded in my brain and how I behaved throughout my life. So when the unwanted sexual attention came, and it always did, I blamed myself.

“But no woman should do that. I shouldn’t do that,” she said. “It’s not my fault if a man wants to turn a professional environment into a playground of flirting, grabbing and sexual talk. I didn’t ask for the attention just by existing. No one asks for the attention by just being themselves.”

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