A Solomont Speaker Series event with rapper and activist Dee-1 was disrupted by messages containing racial slurs on April 19. University President Anthony Monaco and Dayna Cunningham, dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, condemned the incident the following morning in an email to the Tufts community.
“The university condemns this incident and reiterates that such hateful disruptions will not be tolerated at Tufts,” Monaco and Cunningham wrote. “We are investigating all available information in an attempt to discover who is responsible. If we are able to identify who is responsible, we will pursue the severest penalties available to us as a university under the law.”
The incident occurred approximately 10 minutes into the event when the chat function of the livestream was used to post messages containing racial slurs, including the n-word. The messages were visible to audience members attending in person at the ASEAN Auditorium.
After multiple racist messages were sent, an audience member voiced concern and asked administrators to take action. Dee-1, who had been delivering his presentation, was then made aware of the messages, at which point administrators told the audience they were working to resolve the issue.
“I’m not even surprised, because this whole gathering is meant to build community, establishing something positive,” Dee-1 remarked. “Whenever you’re trying to do something positive in life, what happens? The enemy definitely tries to come through and say, ‘I want to disband that.’”
Dee-1 asked to continue the event with the livestream turned off.
“That teaches us about the kind of stuff we just spoke about, called grit. Grit is the ability to keep going, even when things may not be convenient, may not even be in your favor,” Dee-1 said. “So if it’s okay with y’all, we’re gonna keep going.”
Monaco and Cunningham praised Dee-1’s handling of the situation.
“He powerfully moved the conversation forward, encouraging participants to stay in the work and in the moment,” they wrote.
In the same statement, Monaco and Cunningham also issued an apology to the Tufts community.
“We know that participants did see the disturbing messages, and we acknowledge and apologize for the harm and upset caused,” they wrote. “This intrusion is especially distressing because it runs counter to the mission of Tisch College, which seeks to promote civic engagement, learning, and public discourse, and to bring people together.”