This morning, news broke that parts of Melania Trump’s speech mirrored Michelle Obama’s speech that she gave at the 2008 convention.
This is cultural appropriation at its best—and it is also straight up plagiarism. This is nothing new because it has been going on for a long time. Several weeks ago, I discussed how Ernest Owens called out Justin Timberlake for culturally appropriating Black culture on Twitter (https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/theflemministwave.wordpress.com). Owens’s asked Timberlake when he was going to stop appropriating Black culture (this is a call to when Timberlake was inspired by Jesse Williams’s BET speech), and then, he also asked Timberlake was he going to apologize to Janet Jackson. Owens’s discussed in a great interview on (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMgkCoADG8M) the skorpionshow why the interviewers and Owens discuss cultural appropriation. Owens breaks it down and explains he was calling attention to two issues that Williams’s spoke of in his speech when calling of Timberlake: one, the cultural appropriation of Timberlake using our style of music and culture, and two, calling out how Timberlake didn’t come to Janet Jackson’s defense when he was the one who ripped her costume where it exposed her breast. Fans, the media, and viewers slut-shamed Jackson, and Timberlake didn’t stand up for her as another artist.
Cultural appropriation is happening on the political level. Melania Trump is being praised for the speech that she did at the 2016 Republican Convention. However, again, parts of that speech is plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s speech. When Michelle Obama gave that speech, she hardly got any praise when she gave it.
And this is at the heart of cultural appropriation. The heart of cultural appropriation is when another person from another race takes or uses someone else’s intellectual property, ideas, and/or creativity, and the perpetrator benefits from the usage of the originator’s property. The race perpetrator gets credit, and they stole it while the inventor doesn’t get credit. When cultural appropriation happens to Black people, it is another repeated slap in the face.
Listen, I am all for people discussing other people’s intellectual property. However, you need to do two things: One, you need to cite where you got said property from. Two, you need to have read the entire context when you use said property. I believe Melania didn’t quote Michelle’s speech because she knew that it would look unfavorably on her because her husband, Donald Trump, is running on the Republican ticket. To quote the first lady who is a Democrat looks bad. However, since it has been reported that Melania didn’t write her speech, and she had speechwriters, she should fire her speechwriter for plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s speech. She needs to be more proactive about who is writing her speeches and not entirely trust who does it. Or maybe even trying to write her own speech. She may not be the greatest writer, but it is better than being discovered that she read a plagiarized speech, But hey, that’s a part of White privilege, right? Your husband is the epitome of White privilege, White supremacy, and White wealth…so you don’t have to think for yourself but can hire someone to think for you.