Journalist Danielle Young Claims Rev. Jesse Jackson Sexually Harassed Her

by Danielle Young

In all truth, I was originally never going to tell this story. Because for the longest time, I didn’t even know if there was a story. I didn’t take what had happened to me seriously.

Sexual harassment, unwanted sexual attention, grabby or flirtatious old men; we’re taught as women to make excuses for them, especially as black women. You’re supposed to be A-OK with a touch here, a squeeze there, a dirty look, or even an unwanted grab. You’re supposed to laugh—act grateful, even—for the attention.

Even if you never wanted the attention in the first place.

What happened to me was something that was so casual, I almost didn’t even consider it sexual harassment, even though it was beyond my desire.

I used to work for a very popular media company, and we had a meeting that ended with a keynote speech by the living legend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. So, of course, the conference room was packed wall-to-wall.

After Jackson’s riveting and inspiring speech about the responsibility of black journalists, we all lined up to take a photo with him. 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?

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.

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.

I did what most women in an uncomfortable position do: I giggled. 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.

In all truth, I was originally never going to tell this story. Because for the longest time, I didn’t even know if there was a story. I didn’t take what had happened to me seriously.

Sexual harassment, unwanted sexual attention, grabby or flirtatious old men; we’re taught as women to make excuses for them, especially as black women. You’re supposed to be A-OK with a touch here, a squeeze there, a dirty look, or even an unwanted grab. You’re supposed to laugh—act grateful, even—for the attention.

Even if you never wanted the attention in the first place.

What happened to me was something that was so casual, I almost didn’t even consider it sexual harassment, even though it was beyond my desire.

I used to work for a very popular media company, and we had a meeting that ended with a keynote speech by the living legend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. So, of course, the conference room was packed wall-to-wall.

After Jackson’s riveting and inspiring speech about the responsibility of black journalists, we all lined up to take a photo with him. 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?

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.

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.

I did what most women in an uncomfortable position do: I giggled. 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.

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SOURCE: The Root