The Ghost Inside parted ways with bassist Jim Riley over the weekend after the musician was called out for using a racial slur in the past. In their announcement, the band acknowledge hearing past discussion that Riley had used the slur in question and admit they should have addressed the situation when it was initially brought to light. Riley, speaking in an Instagram video interview, has addressed his past comments and thoughts on the recent actions that have occurred because of it.
To recap, the allegations against Riley were made by Bracewar drummer Rashod Jackson, who had confronted Riley about his use of the slur in the past. With The Ghost Inside launching a t-shirt fundraiser with donations being given to the NAACP, Jackson went public with his allegation on Twitter.
In the chat with Instagrammer Voodoo Witch Brocktor, Riley stated, “I admittedly have been reckless with that word in the past, and I don’t mean to diminish it—I don’t want to try to downplay it, I’m doing my best to be here 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—even when I offered that first apology to Rashod, when we spoke on the phone.”
The bassist recalls, “[Rashod] called me out on this in 2015. I reached out to him immediately, we spoke on the phone. I owned it that day. I said I have used this word before. And I apologized and 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.”
He later continued, ”I have to do what I can to make amends for it. Some people will forgive and some people will never forgive me. And I’ve gotta own that. And I’ve gotta own all the consequences that come with that. The damage I’ve done to the reputation of the band can’t be undone.”
Later in the chat, he stated, “I don’t get to demand forgiveness. I can offer an apology, I can try to change. I can try to grow. I can try to be an ally. But it’s not ever going to be enough for some people and I have to accept that and I gotta wear that and I gotta own it.”
Riley says the slur in question was not part of his regular vocabulary and talks about the frat house mentality of using edgy language. He states, “That doesn’t make it right and that doesn’t make it okay, and that was my perspective that Rashod changed was that just because I wasn’t using this word to describe black people, I wasn’t using this word to be hurtful to black people in their presence doesn’t change the fact that that word is equally terrible behind closed doors shared by white dudes as it is if I said it in the street. That, to me, is where my perspective changed. I know that that’s not right and it doesn’t make it okay.”
When asked about Jackson being called out for use of homophobic slurs, Riley added, “I don’t want to wade into the shit on social media, It’s so unproductive. Seeing Rashod get dragged through the mud for his shit makes me sick to my stomach.”
He continued, “What I know from our mutual friends, he’s [Rashod Jackson] 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 grow, Rashod has to be granted that same ability to grow.”
Riley stated, “I’m not a gay person—that’s not my fight to be in. 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.”
As for the decision to put out a shirt fundraiser benefitting the NAACP, Riley says he had a hand in doing so. He explained, “I felt—and I was the driving force behind putting that shirt up—that in this moment our band, because of what we’ve been through—because of all this… because of our position in the world—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.”
The bassist says, “I know that it looks like a PR move… All I can tell you is the band didn’t need help marketing, that’s not what it was about. The album was coming out and it was going to be well-received regardless.”
See more of the chat in the players below:
2020’s Most Anticipated Rock + Metal Albums