University of California, San Diego – June 2017

San Diego, CA

Princeton University Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor cancelled her commencement address at the University of San Diego after receiving death threats and violent email reactions to a commencement address she had previously delivered at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. At Hampshire, Taylor called President Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac.”

Key Figures:

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an assistant professor of African Studies at Princeton University. She studies social justice and racial issues and wrote a book titled, “From #blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation.” On May 20, 2017, during a commencement speech at Hampshire College, she called President Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac.” Afterwards, the speech was circulated by conservative media outlets, including Fox News. Taylor reported receiving death threats and hateful messages. She said she was cancelling upcoming public appearances out of a fear for her own life.

Further details:

Conservative media outlets, including Fox News and The Blaze, publicized Taylor’s commencement address at Hampshire College. Soon afterwards, she began receiving death threats, and had to cancel any upcoming public appearances. She posted about her experience on Facebook, saying in part,

“Since last Friday, I have received more than fifty hate-filled and threatening emails. Some of these emails have contained specific threats of violence, including murder. Earlier this month, I delivered the commencement address at Hampshire College’s graduation ceremony. My speech at Hampshire was applauded but Fox News did not like it. 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 ‘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. 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.”

She also accused Fox News of deliberately trying to incite and “unleash the mob-like mentality of its fringe audience.”

Outcome:

Taylor receives death threats, cancels public appearances.

Taylor cancelled her upcoming commencement address at the University of California, San Diego.

External References:

Concession to Violent Intimidation, Inside Higher Ed

Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Cancels Public Appearances Amid Fox News-Fueled Death Threats, The Root

Princeton professor: I received death threats after anti-Trump commencement address, CBS News

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Facebook Statement

Where is the outrage for Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor? New Republic

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

September 11, 2017