Many progressive commentators are urging that we pay attention to the rampant racism expressed by speaker after speaker on the opening night of the GOP Convention in Cleveland and not focus so much on Melania Trump’s plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech.
But Melania Trump’s speech is racism. In fact, it is a stunning example of the sense of entitlement that is at the core of racism and it is the essence of White Privilege.
A hallmark of White Privilege is the assumption that whites are entitled to take what they want from African American creativity, from music or the arts or literature or culture or speeches and appropriate it as their own.
Ntozake Shange, in her work for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf has “the lady in green” passionately protest ,“They want, they take but can never give!” Well, the lady in green is done with having her stuff stolen and she wants it back!
In higher education when you steal somebody else’s stuff and write and speak as though it were your own, that’s called plagiarism. I have been a professor for nearly forty years, and if Melania Trump turned in the speech she gave for the GOP Convention as a paper, she’d be on academic probation today.
Sections of the speech were lifted, unattributed, from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention.
Despite Melania’s claiming (at first) to NBC News earlier on Monday that she had written the speech herself, some seem to want to let her off the hook for the whole sentences taken from Ms. Obama’s speech.
Joy-Ann Reid had it right when she argued if Michelle Obama had done something similar “she wouldn’t have gotten a pass,” and that Melania Trump is “an adult,” and the person who gave the speech, so she has to be held accountable.
Melania Trump needs to acknowledge she took Michelle Obama’s words without permission, delete those parts of the speech and circulate that amended copy with an apology.