Last week, The Ghost Inside announced that they are parting ways with bassist Jim Riley. The decision was made after a situation with him calling their bus driver a racial slur was brought back to light by Bracewar drummer Rashod Jackson.
Now, Riley is speaking out further about the incident and where he stands following his exit from The Ghost Inside.
Amidst the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests over the wrongful death of George Floyd, many artists are showing their support for the movement and the need for change in America. Last week, The Ghost Inside released their “What Do You Stand For?” shirt with all profits going to the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People.
Shortly after, however, Bracewar’s drummer commented on the post and brought up the incident where Riley used a racial slur against their bus driver. He also had a tweet from when the incident happened to show this was previously addressed, too.
Following this, The Ghost Inside announced the departure of Riley from the band. As well, the band released a statement detailing the situation. In the statement, the band take full responsibility for the racial remark. The band knew about Riley’s comment towards their bus driver and did not look further into the situation, an action they regret.
“We have decided to part ways with bassist Jim Riley,” the band say in a statement. “While we didn’t hear these words spoken directly from his mouth, we did hear mutterings of the incident. At the time we thought this to be just a rumor, but it offended and hurt a community. A community we are meant to bring together. We should’ve spoken up back then but we didn’t. We should’ve dug deeper.”
Now, Riley is speaking out about the incident and his past racial remark. Following his initial statement, Riley participated in a video interview over the weekend where he discusses the incident and its repercussions in-depth.
“I admittedly have been reckless with that word in the past and I don’t mean to diminish [it],” he says. “I don’t want to try to downplay it. I’m doing my best to be here and own it in every way that I can. Looking back today is a person that I think is dramatically different than the person I was in in 2013 or ’14 or 2015.”
Riley also reveals that he has spoken with Jackson on the phone regarding the incident before. Jackon said that Riley’s apology for using the slur simply isn’t enough. However, Riley believes that the incident has changed his mindset.
“He called me out on this in 2015,” he says. “I reached out to him immediately, we spoke on the phone. I owned it that day [and] said I have used this word before. And I apologized. He told me it wasn’t enough and that really shook me. I know people are gonna say that’s bullshit or whatever, but that incident changed my mindset. I have fundamentally changed the way that I think about things regarding race since then.”
In the interview, Riley continues by saying that he takes full responsibility for what he has said. Despite his apologies, he knows that some people will never forgive him.
“I have to do what I can to make amends for it,” he says. “Some people will forgive and some people will never forgive me. And I’ve gotta own that and all the consequences that come with that. The damage I’ve done to the reputation of the band can’t be undone.”
Following the exposure of Riley’s incident with their bus driver, Jackson is now being accused of using homophobic slurs. After some shared past tweets and comments the drummer has made, Jackson addressed the situation in a long statement. Despite taking ownership for the things he has said, Jackson says his mistakes should not invalidate what Riley has said in the past.
Riley further voices his thoughts on Jackson in the interview.
“I don’t want to wade into the shit on social media, it’s so unproductive,” Riley says. “Seeing Rashod get dragged through the mud for his shit makes me sick to my stomach. What I know from our mutual friends, he’s a great dude. I know he’s active in his community. His character and being called out by him is one of the reasons is why I took that so seriously. I know that he is a good person. And here I am, if I’m gonna ask for the ability to grow, Rashod has to be granted that same ability to grow.”
Despite Jackson’s usage of homophobic slurs in the past, Riley says that Jackson still has a right to speak up about injustice in the black community. This includes his decision to bring up Riley’s past racial slur remark.
“And I’m not a gay person, that’s not my fight to be in,” Riley says. “But for anyone to say that Rashod can’t have an opinion about this because of what he has said in the past is totally invalid. That’s not how this shit works. He is a black man, he’s speaking out about injustice in the black community and that’s his right.”
In the interview, Riley also addresses the NAACP shirt The Ghost Inside decided to release. Following their deadly bus crash in 2015, The Ghost Inside found themselves getting more media attention than other bands in their scene. They decided they wanted to use this newfound media exposure as a way to raise money during the Black Lives Matter movement. The former bassist reveals that he was the “driving force” behind the decision to put out the shirt and raise money for an important organization
“I was the driving force behind putting that shirt up,” Riley says. “I felt that our band, because of what we’ve been through [and] because of all this, that we were going to get a lot of media attention from a lot of places that other bands that we’re adjacent to don’t reach. And that it was our obligation to take the message into those spaces. And that rather than put up a t-shirt that was gonna make us money the day before this record comes out, I made the point that we should participate in what’s going on. [And] make a statement and put this shirt up and try to raise a whole bunch of money to help what’s going on.”
Following his departure from The Ghost Inside, Riley shares in the interview what he hopes for the future.
“I don’t get to demand forgiveness,” he says. “I can offer an apology, can try to change, can try to grow [and] can try to be an ally. But it’s not ever going to be enough for some people and I have to accept that. I gotta wear that and I gotta own it.”
The full interview with Jim Riley is available to stream below.
To show support through donations, connect with grassroots campaigns and obtain resources for allies, please refer to the links below.
Help the family of George Floyd here.
Fight for Breonna Taylor here.
Help the family of Ahmaud Arbery here.
To sign petitions for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and more, click here.
Donate to one or more community bail funds for protesters here.
Click here for more resources for protestors, including pro-bono lawyers.
Visit Movement For Black Lives for additional ways you can help the cause.
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Here are some anti-racism resources for allies who want to learn more.For other ways to donate, please head here.