MIAMI — Danielle Young, a writer for The Root, an online magazine launched by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Donald E. Graham in 2008, has accused director John Singleton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson of inappropriate sexual behavior.
The journalist claims that she was harassed by Singleton at the American Black Film Festival, which was held last June in Miami Beach. Singleton, who was at the festival promoting his new series, Snowfall, allegedly grabbed Young during an interview.
“I conducted the interview, and afterward I went over to Singleton to grab my mic and he grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward him, saying, ‘Bring that juiciness over here,'” she said. “He was sitting in a director’s chair, so when he pulled me, I fell forward and stopped myself by placing my hands on his legs.”
“He then leaned forward and kissed me on my cheek. I said, “Oh, oh, OK,” and stood up, embarrassed because everyone was definitely still in the room. Mostly, no one reacted, aside from a few seconds of laughter. A few people asked Singleton for a photo, and I didn’t,” she added. “He noticed. When he was about to leave the room, he asked if I wanted a picture. In order not to make it awkward, I said yes. He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me into him, saying, “Oooh, I’m gonna grab on tight to you.”
Young also alleges that Jackson groped her during a photo op in Chicago three years ago.
“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!’”
Jackson has responded saying that he doesn’t remember meeting Young, but that he apologizes if he caused her any pain.
Pictures posted by Young, where she is seen smiling, show the civil rights leader giving the reporter a hug.
“I did what most women in an uncomfortable position do: I giggled,” she said. “I was shocked, to say the least. Even though Jackson had had his hand reached out, I had no idea that he would touch me in a sexual way.”
“A few of my co-workers saw Jackson’s hand grip my thigh as it was happening, and they laughed harder than I did,” she added. “I admired this man who marched alongside the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a man who represented our ability to overcome, a man who is really…just a man.”
Young said that as her co-workers took pictures and laughed, she was dumbstruck.
“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,” she said. “In many of the photos, you can see that I am visibly uncomfortable but attempting to laugh it all off. In the last photo, I am pointing to the camera, asking him if we can just take the picture.”
The experience left her disappointed and angry.
“When I was finally able to pull myself away from the Rev Jackson’s grip, I was deflated,” she said.
In regard to pictures taken with Singleton, Young said, “Don’t let the smile fool you. I’m cringing on the inside.”
One of the reporter’s co-workers, who was present during the interview with the Boyz in the Hood director, has backed up her story.
“I remember him being inappropriate with all the women,” the co-worker said. “And I also remember you telling me that he did something more with you. And then we brushed the s**t off and chalked it up to him just being a dirty old man.”
Despite posting the pictures to her Instagram account, Young recognized Singleton had behaved inappropriately with her.
“After Singleton and his crew left the room, I turned to a woman working for the festival and I said, “Did you see that?” she recalled. “She said, “Yeah, girl. I heard he likes big girls. I left the room and then another journalist asked me about the interview, I told her about the arm pull, the ‘juiciness’ and the kiss, and she said, ‘Girl, he’s worth $50 million! You should pursue that!’”
“I couldn’t believe she was telling me to ignore my better judgment and my skin-crawling to make a man who doesn’t respect boundaries my sugar daddy. I felt like I should never have said anything,” she added.