Princeton Professor Cancels Seattle Talk Following Deluge of Racist Threats

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says threats came after she criticized Donald Trump during a recent commencement address.

Activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, was scheduled to speak Wednesday evening at Town Hall.

But in a statement posted early Wednesday, she says she’s canceled the appearance due to death threats from people upset by critical comments she made about President Donald Trump. She’s also canceled a talk in San Diego. Since last Friday, Taylor writes, she has received more than 50 vicious, racist, hate-filled emails, some of them threatening murder. She now fears for her safety and her family’s safety. She believes these emails were in direct response to a Fox News article about a commencement speech she gave on May 20 at Hampshire College — a speech that Fox called “an anti-POTUS tirade.”

During the speech, she warned graduates of the world they were entering into, spoke of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions, and called Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac” who “has fulfilled the campaign promises of a campaign organized and built upon racism, corporatism, and miltarism.”

Since then, the online attacks have been relentless.

“I have been repeatedly called ‘nigger,’ ‘bitch,’ ‘cunt,’ ‘dyke,’ ‘she-male,’ and ‘coon’ — a clear reminder that racial violence is closely aligned with gender and sexual violence,” she writes. “I have been threatened with lynching and having the bullet from a .44 Magnum put in my head. I am not a newsworthy person. Fox did not run this story because it was ‘news,’ but to incite and unleash the mob-like mentality of its fringe audience.”

In the statement, she points to the recent fatal stabbings in Portland and at the University of Maryland, both believed to be racially motivated and perpetrated by white supremacist sympathizers.

But although she canceled her talks this week, “I am releasing this statement to say that I will not be silent,” she writes. “We have to change this dynamic and begin to build a massive movement against racism, sexism, and bigotry in this country. I remain undaunted in my commitment to that project.”

sbernard@seattleweekly.com

More in News & Comment

Charlie Shih’s interactive art installation ‘<em>They Did’</em> captured the spirit of #MeToo on UW’s campus. Photo by Lucas Boland
#MeToo U

The increased focus on sexual assault has local students and universities examining campus policies.

Photo by Jessica Spengler/Flickr
Budget Proposal Would Jeopardize Washington’s Food Assistance Program

Policy analysts say Trump’s plan to slash SNAP’s funding would push people further into poverty.

2017 People’s Tribunal, organized by Northwest Detention Center Resistance. Photo by Sara Bernard.
Immigrant Rights Community Responds to Allegations Against Seattle ICE Attorney

Activists say that Monday’s charges further vindicate their fight against the organization’s tactics.

Washington State Capitol. Photo by Nicole Jennings
Washington May Soon Teach Sexual Abuse Prevention in Schools

The State Legislature is considering training aimed at improving child safety.

Freedom, Hate, and a Campus Divided

Last weekend’s Patriot Prayer event cast doubts on claims of openness by UW College Republicans.

State Legislators Look to “Ban the Box”

The House of Representatives votes to end questioning criminal history on job applications.

Dennis Peron. Illustration by James the Stanton
The Cannabis Community Mourns Activist Dennis Peron

The grandfather of medicinal marijuana was 72.

Seattle school bus drivers ended a nine-day strike that affected more than 12,000 students. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Seattle Schools Still Seeking Future Options After Bus Drivers End Nine-Day Strike

As the yellow bus service resumes, the district continues plans to attract more contractors.

UW’s campus may be getting bigger. Photo by Joe Mabel/Flickr
Community Members Raise Concerns About UW’s Expansion Plans

The university’s growth plan faces pushback due to environmental, housing, and neighborhood issues.

Most Read