The Internet has been appropriately going nuts since Melania Trump spoke at last night’s Republican National Convention. Her bit about the values instilled in her by her loving parents sounded a little too familiar—a lot familiar, actually, and that’s because it was pretty much lifted from a speech Michelle Obama already made in 2008.
Aside from being yet another embarrassment for the Trump family’s ever-expanding list, Melania’s mishap is also inherently problematic. With questionable politics to begin with, Mrs. Trump parroted back the eloquent words originally spoken by a woman of color, expecting no one to notice. This is just another example of a white woman borrowing from black culture, highlighting an ongoing tradition of cultural appropriation by white Americans who think nobody will realize it.
Too bad for Melania, literally everyone did.
And just in case she had any more “referential” speeches planned, we’ve decided to put together a list of five of the most powerful recent speeches from women of color.
Sorry, Mrs. Trump. Your speech writer will have to cross these ones off the list.
Maya Angelou, “On The Pulse Of Morning,” at the 1993 Presidential inauguration
“History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.”
Michelle Obama on empowering women at a Let Girls Learn event in London, June 2015
“But despite my efforts, there were still people in my life who told me that I was setting my sights too high; that a girl like me couldn’t get into an elite university. It was like these folks were trying to put me in a little box—a box that fit their constrained expectations of me. And after a while, I started to wonder, well, maybe I was dreaming too big.”
Angela Davis, “How Does Change Happen?” February 2008
“As a matter of fact, most people don’t even know that it was a group of black women who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Most people haven’t heard of the name Jo Ann Robinson even though she wrote a book called ‘The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It.’ Because that method was the paradigm, right; you’re supposed to think that it is these great, heroic, male leaders who are the motors of history. And how could you possibly measure up to someone like that? And what you don’t realize is that the real work happened long before Dr. King ever thought of associating himself with those struggles.”
Bell Hooks, “Ending Domination: The Struggle Continues,” March 2010
“Progressive folks, especially prominent black male thinkers and activists on the Left, openly denounce imperialism, racism and capitalism, but rarely talk about the need to challenge patriarchy.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We Should All Be Feminists,” April 2013
“I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change, but in addition to being angry, I’m also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better.”