Aug 21, 2009

I'm pretty sure so fo you recall recently me posting an entry here about a blog that was written by Tameka Foster Raymond called "She's Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl..."  Well, it turns out that there are allegations out there that Ms. Raymond is not the original author of the blog post.  Here is what Jawn Murray is reporting over at Black Voices:
When Tameka Foster posted the blog entry "She's Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl..." on The Huffington Post, both celebrities and regular women alike celebrated her blog message on Twitter and Facebook.

Unbeknownst to them, while they were saluting Usher Raymond's soon-to-be ex-wife's essay on skin complexion, author Aisha Curry, who wrote the book 'Pretty For a Black Girl' (AuthorHouse/$10.49) read the piece and felt outraged that her tome had been apparently been lifted and used by Foster, who allegedly passed the work off as her own.

"My heart sank into my stomach. All the hard work, all the sleepless nights I had endured was playing back in my head as I read this article written by a woman I didn't even know," Curry told BV Buzz. "Why did I feel so connected to this article? Suddenly, it came to me. It was my work! It was my work, my voice, but in her words. I was frozen. Tears began rolling down my face as I read line after line after line. I couldn't believe it. The idea that someone could gain notoriety from an issue that I first brought to the forefront is mindboggling. People were praising her for tackling an issue that had never been exposed. Hello?!? I wrote the book on it and started it years ago. The only difference between her article and my book is she used 'dark-skinned' and I used 'Black.'"

Curry said she began writing 'Pretty For a Black Girl' in 2007 after receiving compliments about her beauty, only to have them followed up with a reference to her ethnicity.

"One day about five years ago, I was absolutely tired of being told that I was pretty for a black girl," she explained. "I started asking my friends if they had heard this statement before, and as time went on, I realized how prevalent the issue was."

The 96-page pocket-size book, which was self-published in March 2008, was written as a labor of love by Curry, a Bible college student who is dismayed at the idea that Foster plagiarized her hard work on Aug. 11, 2009 for The Huffington Post.

"I received the link and it changed my life. A friend told me that they had read an article in The Huffington Post called 'She's Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl' written by Tameka Foster. I knew the title was similar to my book but I didn't jump to any conclusions," Curry recalled. "So, I went to the site and began reading this article. If she would have changed the words 'dark-skinned' to 'black' it would be exactly the same title as my book. My frustration quickly turned to anger and I sought God for answers. 'What do I do? What can I do?' At that moment, the appropriate reaction was tears. All I could do was cry! Thankfully, I had the support of my family and close friends who surrounded me with love. They quoted scriptures from the Bible, which gave me strength. I began to receive phone calls from people who had read the book and they said: 'Wow, I felt like I have heard all that before!' That's when I decided to do something. I picked up the phone and called as many supporters as I could."

Now, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the entire thing.  I understand Aisha Curry's point, but I also see how Tameka could have written the article herself because the saying "Pretty for a dark-skinned girl..." is not a new concept.  I can distinctly remember people saying it to my cousin when we were growing up.  It use to disgust me when I was a child just as it disgusts me now.  Telling a woman she is pretty for a dark skinned girl is like telling an overweight woman she has a pretty face...SMDH.  It amazes me the amount of self-hatred that still penetrates our community.  Terms like "Good-hair" and "pretty for a dark skinned girl" are things that continue to be tools of divisiveness in our community.  They serve only one purpose and that is to make us think there is something wrong with our natural African features.  We need to get away from these ideas of white supremacy and realize that the European aesthetic of beauty is not the only aesthetic of beauty.  We need to learn to embrace our own beauty while recognizing the beauty of others.  Black is Beautiful and we need to recognize and truly understand that.
Now, getting back to the topic of hand.  It was my understanding that Tameka's tome for Huffington Post was to discuss her recent near death experience with plastic surgery and why a woman with all her access would chose to undergo surgery in order to fit society's standard of beauty.  I hope she didn't plagarize Aisha's work, but if she did Aisha should see this as a blessing in disguise because now I want to read her book as I'm sure a lot of other people are going to.  I've learned early that blessings don't come in the package that you think they should, but they're still blessings nonetheless.


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