Physical threats prompt professor to cancel trip to west coast

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor has cancelled at least two upcoming west coast lectures due to threats and racist e-mails. Some of those emails specifically contained violent threats, even of murder, and appeared to be the result of a commencement speech she gave at Hampshire College where she shared a less than favorable opinion of Donald Trump.

Taylor, who helped organize the international women’s strike in March, said in her speech to graduates, “The president of the U.S., the most powerful politician in the world, is a racist, sexist megalomaniac. It is not a benign observation but has meant tragic consequences for many people in this country, from the terror-inducing raids in communities of undocumented immigrants to his disparaging of refugees in search of freedom and respite.”

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

With her speech, Taylor ultimately hoped to motivate graduates to avoid being the status quo, something that many feel got Trump the ability to be elected to the most powerful office in the world. The speech seemed to be well received by attendees at the commencement.

“My speech at Hampshire was applauded, but Fox News did not like it,” Taylor said in a statement. “Last week, the network ran a story on my speech, describing it as an “anti-POTUS tirade.” Fox ran an online story about my speech, and created a separate video of excerpts of my speech, which included my warning to graduates about the world they were graduating into. I argued that Donald Trump, the most powerful politician in the world, is a racist and sexist megalomaniac, who poses a threat to their future. Shortly after the Fox story and video were published, my work email was inundated with vile and violent statements.

I have been repeatedly called n—-r, bitch, c-nt, dyke, she-male, and coon. [It is] a clear reminder that racial violence is closely aligned with gender and sexual violence. 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, anticipating that they would respond with a deluge of hate-filled emails — or worse. The threat of violence, whether it is implied or acted on, is intended to intimidate and to silence.”

Taylor is not the only member of academia to recently fall victim to threats and racial slurs. Tommy Curry, an associate professor at Texas A&M, received racist messages via social media, and e-mail as well as death threats. This came after a web site ran comments he made about violence against whites when the movie Django Unchained was released in 2012.

J.L. Gaynor
Out In Jersey magazine contributor J.L. Gaynor spent eight years in the newsrooms of two major New Jersey papers. A Jersey girl through and through: born, raised, and educated in New Jersey. Jen now lives in Maryland and has two dogs she adores, and reads just about anything she can get her hands on.