Princeton University professor of African-American studies, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, was scheduled to speak at Town Hall Seattle this evening about her latest book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.
But on Sunday, Fox News aired a brief clip of her 20-minute-long commencement speech to Hampshire College's graduating class of 2017, during which she said what anyone with two eyes, a pulse, and more than three chapter books on their shelf would say about the President of the United States, namely that he's a "racist, sexist, megalomaniac." The media arm of the Republican party showed the clip with the headline: "Anti-POTUS Tirade: Princeton Prof Slams Pres During Speech."
Then, according to a statement Taylor's publishers released on Facebook, like cowards, a number of Fox News viewers felt compelled to send racist, sexist, megalomaniacal messages to Taylor from the relative safety of their own computers.
"Since last Friday, I have received more than 50 hate-filled and threatening emails. Some of these emails have contained specific threats of violence, including murder," she writes. "Shortly after the Fox story and video were published, my work email was inundated with vile and violent statements. 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. I have been threatened with lynching and having the bullet from a .44 Magnum put in my head."
"I am not a newsworthy person," she goes on to write. "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."
After citing the recent spate of white supremacist terrorism, including the horrific stabbings on the MAX train in Portland and at the University of Maryland, Taylor says the cancelation of her event in Seattle and another lecture scheduled at UC-San Diego "is a concession to the violent intimidation that was, in my opinion, provoked by Fox News."
"Their side uses the threat of violence and intimidation because they cannot compete in the field of politics, ideas, and organizing," she writes. "The true strength of our side has not yet been expressed in its size and breadth, and so they believe they are winning. 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."
I think part of this project is reporting acts of white supremacy when we see them on the internet or in our own families. There must be real, legal consequences for these threats or else they will never end.
Here's Dr. Taylor's entire speech:
Former Stranger reporter Ansel Herz conducted a pretty thorough, illuminating interview with Dr. Taylor on her last visit to Seattle. Reading his post doesn't beat the thrill of listening to the scholar and activist speak on the issues in the glory of Town Hall, but it's still worth a read.