The Power, Violence and Inequality Collective at the University welcomed Asst. African American Studies Prof. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor from Princeton University on Wednesday for a public lecture entitled “Black Lives Matter in the Trump Era.”
Taylor’s book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” was published in 2016 and received the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book. Like her lecture at the University, the book outlines the progression of black politics in America as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think across the country people have been very receptive to some of the things I’m talking about because I think that for millions of ordinary people, there is a desire not just to be critical but to figure out what to we do next, where did these problems come from and how do we confront them?” Taylor said. “That’s the problem and a discussion that’s not really happening among the political parties.”
Taylor began her lecture by highlighting a Forbes article written in 2008 after former President Barack Obama’s election entitled “Racism in America is Over.” Taylor said this article could not be further from the truth in President Donald Trump’s America.
“[It] has imbued the confidence of white supremacists and other racists who have [previously] had to operate on the margins of society,” Taylor said.
Taylor also said the growth of anti-Muslim organizations has tripled since Trump began his campaign and said it was important to know how America got to this point in its history, drawing Trump’s victory as more based on who didn’t come out and vote rather than who did.
“I think she did an excellent job contextualizing the moment in which we currently reside,” Assoc. English Prof. Lisa Woolfork said. “Rather than blaming the political right or the political left, I think she paid very careful attention to everyone’s responsibility for the deep history and context for this problem.”
Taylor then switched her focus to police reform, which she said is a difficult problem in America because many localities turn a blind eye to brutal policing.
“Black people in America cannot get free alone,” Taylor said. “Another world is possible, one free of racism, nationalism … religious bias, sexism, homophobia, but it is a world that has to be organized and fought for.”
The lecture ended with a half-hour for students and visitors to ask Taylor questions, with the complexity of Taylor’s lecture providing ample room for discussion.