Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, came to the Wayne State University Law School to discuss her new award-winning book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” on Feb. 28.
Taylor’s speech covered many topics she discussed in her book, including where the accountability lies for the current political state in the U.S., the failings of the Democratic Party and the effects of income inequality.
Taylor said the election of former President Barack Obama in 2008 led many to believe America could become a post-racial society. However, she said since the election of President Donald Trump, America could not be further from this vision.
“Not only is racism not over in the United States, but an unabashed racist sits at its helm,” Taylor said. “Trump ran a campaign fueled on racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, sexism and rabid nationalism.”
Trump’s nominees for cabinet members are akin to “[putting] a fox in every hen house,” Taylor said.
“It is not hyperbole to say that white supremacy sits at the heart of the American government,” she said. “Donald Trump’s election has unleashed the beasts of racism.”
Taylor said the rise of Trump is connected to the shortcomings of Obama. Obama’s success as president stems from his civility and absence of a scandal, rather than his ability to challenge the economic status quo, Taylor said.
“Embedded inside of every right-wing backlash is the failure of the liberal establishment to provide a better way,” Taylor said.
The two-party system forces voters to choose between the lesser of two evils and in this process, the key questions of the average American are forgotten, she said.
“The problem within our two-party system that creates so little confidence and so much indifference, even when it appears that so much is at stake,” Taylor said. “It is precisely the lack of real choices that underline the problem.”
Taylor said working class Americans are told the least powerful in society— “undocumented Mexican immigrants,” “Black criminals” and “Muslim terrorists”—are responsible for the economic hardship in the U.S.
“Economic inequality and racial injustice don’t operate on parallel tracks. They reinforce each other,” she said. “Racism and discrimination are projected loudly from the top to provide an explanation for economic inequality.”
David Goldberg, an assistant professor of African American studies, said this discussion was very timely.
Goldberg said it’s essential that all communities come together for one movement because history shows people are stronger when they’re united while facing oppression.
“The message here is we’re all in this together,” Goldberg said. “We have to support each other’s fights because together we’ll be much stronger.”
Shareece McCauley, a second-year law student, said having open discussions on controversial topics is important for students and community members to ensure equal access to information.
“It’s important to get information to [lower class] community members,” McCauley said. “Especially in Detroit, where it’s highly segregated and there’s a reason the information isn’t reaching [them].”
Taylor’s book, “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” is available for purchase at barnesandnoble.com.