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

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