Uju Anya, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who sparked backlash after her tweet wishing Queen Elizabeth II “excruciating” pain went viral, is defending her position, saying in a statement that “I stand by what I said.”
As news of the Queen’s failing health emerged on Thursday hours before her death was announced, Anya tweeted her response. “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying,” Anya said in the now-removed tweet. “May her pain be excruciating.”
The cause of Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Thursday has yet to be disclosed, as the UK undergoes a period of mourning and transition and King Charles III takes the throne.
Many criticized Anya for lacking empathy toward the Queen and royal family, including none other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who quote-tweeted her on Thursday, saying: “This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don’t think so. Wow.”
Bezos’s involvement pushed the tweet into a new level of visibility. In response, Carnegie Mellon tweeted a statement calling Anya’s statement “offensive and objectionable,” and Twitter removed her original comment, saying it had violated the platform’s rules. On Friday, Anya told The Cut her email inbox was flooded with hateful messages, with subject lines that “all start with the n-word, bitch, genetically inferior.”
But Anya continued to defend her beliefs. “There’s not going to be any apology from me,” she said on Friday. “I stand by what I said.” On social media, she has retweeted more posts discussing the horrific impacts of British colonization.
Others came to Anya’s defense, and specifically called out Jeff Bezos for picking out her tweet. One user found a post of Anya with Chris Smalls, one of the core organizers and founders of the Amazon Labor Union. “I have been wondering, why Prof Anya was selected by Jeff Bezos,” they wrote. “This is why.” Some pointed out that Carnegie Mellon had previously accepted a $2 million donation from Amazon.
“I already got my tweets lined up for you when you go,” one told Jeff Bezos. The tweet ratioed Bezos’s.
Meanwhile, Anya doubled down on her stance.
“If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star,” said Anya in the remaining visible tweet.