Princeton Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Cancels Public Appearances Amid Fox News-Fueled Death Threats

Don J. Usner
Don J. Usner

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton and a 2016 The Root 100 honoree, has been forced to cancel all public appearances as death threats continue to roll in in response to her May 20 commencement address at Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Mass.


Taylor’s unapologetic speech, during which she called President Donald Trump a “racist, sexist, megalomaniac”—i.e., she told the truth—was picked up by conservative propaganda machines Fox News and TheBlaze. Of course, white supremacist, misogynist trolls crawled out of the woodwork to attack Taylor for telling the truth.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If this society is really a replication of Animal Farm, then Fox News is Squealer’s Network.

Read an excerpt from Taylor’s speech below:

You are graduating into a world of uncertainty and one that is increasingly dangerous. These dangers manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Perhaps, the most extreme illustration now resides in the White House. The president of the United States, 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 the communities of undocumented immigrants, to his disparaging of refugees in search of freedom and respite. He has empowered an attorney general who embraces and promulgates policies that have already been proven to have a devastating impact on black families and communities.

He thinks that climate science is fake. And his eagerness to take the country into war can only be interpreted as a callous disregard for its steep price in both money and human life. This list could continue, but suffice to say that Donald Trump has fulfilled the campaign promises of a campaign organized and built upon racism, corporatism and militarism.

Where is the lie?

Taylor continued to make it plain, saying that Trump didn’t just appear out of thin air to dismantle an otherwise fully functioning democracy that works for everyone. No, Trump stepped into the “deep wells of bitterness, resentment, and anger that have been bubbling beneath ... our society for some time,” Taylor said.


“This is not just another partisan battle over race or class deciding the press,” Taylor continued. “It is recognizing simply that the political and economic status quo in this country have failed over and over again to deliver a better way to the vast majority of people in this country.”

Watch Taylor’s full speech below:

It wasn’t long before the dregs of society—Fox News readers—came for Taylor, proving that they are exactly the vile, violent, white supremacist cowards that the Democratic leadership is sill trying to woo for the midterm elections and beyond.


These are the people who don’t care that Trump is a white supremacist representing the White Nationalist Party in everything but name, because they, too, hate black and brown people.

These are the people who don’t care that Trump hates women, because they, too, hate women and gender-nonconforming and genderqueer people.


These are the people who don’t care that Trump is a morally bankrupt, vulture capitalist, because they, too, are either vulture capitalists or striving to become one.

Trump mirrors their desire for access to white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and/or its maintenance and protection—and they love what they see. Further, waiting for Fox News or TheBlaze to denounce these death threats against Taylor is as futile as holding a lantern up in broad daylight looking for an honest man.


In response to relentless threats against her person, her family and her home, Taylor issued the following statement on Haymarket Books’ Facebook page, a statement that makes it clear that Fox News posted her speech for no other reason than 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.”


Read Taylor’s full statement below:

It is with great regret that I have decided to cancel my public lectures scheduled at Seattle’s Town Hall and at the University of California, San Diego this week. I am canceling my appearances for fear of my safety and my family’s safety. 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.

In some sense, then, they have been successful. In the last few weeks, white racists have committed heinous acts of violence. On May 20, a white “alt-Right” sympathizer, Sean Urbanski, murdered an African-American Bowie State University student, Richard Collins III, on the campus of the University of Maryland. Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” And just this past weekend, a white supremacist in Portland, Oregon, murdered two men and attempted to murder another, when all three stepped in to stop an Islamophobic and racist attack on two young women riding public transit. President Donald Trump finally decided to release a half-hearted and subdued tweet to oppose the murders in Portland, but with not nearly the same vigor he has used to incite his base against immigrants, while also whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria. The lethargy of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in responding to the actual threat of white supremacist, terrorist violence encourages the development of its networks and organizations across the country. The cancelation of my speaking events is a concession to the violent intimidation that was, in my opinion, provoked by Fox News. But I am releasing this statement to say that I will not be silent. Their side uses the threat of violence and intimidation because they cannot compete in the field of politics, ideas, and organizing. 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.


This is the reality for black people speaking openly—with the full power of their compelling black voices—from the margins. When one is both righteous and rigorous in her or his fight to realize liberation for oppressed and occupied communities, then corporate-sponsored lynch mobs posing as media entities send in their cyber dogs.

As The Root previously reported, Carl Hart, the author of High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, and the chair of the psychology department at Columbia University, was forced to cut a trip to the Philippines short earlier this month because of death threats sparked, in part, by propaganda disguised as media.


Hart told the truth, too: The United States is crumbling under the weight of its own reckless arrogance and its commitment to punitive policies molded by white supremacy.


All my support and solidarity to the freedom fighters and truth tellers among us.

Mother. Wife. Writer. Journalist. Bubber's Daughter.



Your writing is so good and I definitely look forward to you seeing your work on even more platforms.

For all of the anti-Muslim rhetoric these people are the actual terrorists. And it’s scary to think that speaking out against the president will get you featured on Fox News for the sole purpose of harassment. And since Fox News is the only network that 45 trusts and believes it is state sanctioned harassment. It’s terrifying really.