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


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

t
Smith, Basler running for District 9 Congress seat

Republican challenger takes on Democrat incumbent.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

t
Kent girl, 12, dies trying to help her mother during seizure in car

Miranda Bhattacharyya ’always put the well-being of others before herself,’ family says

Hilary Franz (left) and Sue Kuehl Pederson
Wildfires, forest health are key issues in race to lead DNR

Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson is challenging incumbent Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

power grid electricity power lines blackouts PG&E (Shutterstock)
State extends moratorium on some electric, gas shutoffs

Investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in WA can’t disconnect customers through April.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
State still sifting through thousands of unemployment claims

The recent Lost Wages Assistance program pumped an extra $625 million to Washington’s unemployed.

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee (left) and Republican challenger Loren Culp during Wednesday's debate. (TVW) 20201007
Inslee, Culp joust on COVID, climate, crime in feisty debate

In their only televised match-up, the two gubernatorial candidates differed on pretty much everything.

Gov. Jay Inslee during his Oct. 6 news conference. (Screenshot)
Gov. Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters

New rules come as coronavirus cases are on the rise statewide.

This white SUV was stolen about 15 minutes before the Oct. 6 shooting incident. Courtesy of Trooper Rick Johnson
Man in stolen SUV shot and killed by pursuing driver in Auburn

Someone in a vehicle that was chasing an SUV on an on-ramp… Continue reading

Jay Inslee (left) and Loren Culp
Inslee, Culp will meet in only televised debate Wednesday

The two candidates will answer questions for an hour but they will not be on stage together.