Kamala Harris has created history by becoming the first woman Vice President-elect of the United States of America. Her ethnic connection to Jamaica and India has found a soft spot among people of colour worldwide. Praised and congratulations are flowing in for her from all corners. Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra is among those who had congratulated her and mentioned how years of struggle for people of color led to her becoming the Vice President of the US. However, she was found using plagiarised content in her congratulatory message.
Rosa sat, so Ruby could walk, so Kamala could run. pic.twitter.com/iC2V6Zxj7A— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) November 8, 2020
The plagiarism killed the message
Moitra is known for stealing content for her speeches and tweets. This time, she again plagiarized congratulation message to Kamala Harris and did not mention the original creator of the artwork. Moitra used an artwork, which depicted Kamala Harris walking in a business suit with a bag in hand in front of a wall. But the shadow in the wall is of a little girl. An accompanying image shows that the girl is a black girl.
Social media users noticed that the composite image is not a creation of Mahua Moitra, and she didn’t credit the original creator. Several Twitter users pointed out that she should credit the creator of the artwork. The composite image is used as header image on a website named ‘WTF America 2017’. The website credits artist Bria Goeller as the creator of the image, along with its Instagram handle goodtrubble.
Curious why did you not give a hat tip to either the original creator of the message or at least the person you copied this from?— Suhel Banerjee (@suhel) November 8, 2020
The credit to the fantastic artwork in last panel featuring Ruby Bridges’s shadow and Kamala Harris I learn belongs to https://t.co/dunvnyeFhj . It is a Collaboration of @briagoeller and @goodtrubble.— Pallavi Varma Patil (@papalli) November 8, 2020
Dr. June M. Sellers first posted the tweet’s content though she also forgot to credit the creator of the artwork.
Rosa sat, so Ruby could walk, so Kamala, ahem, that’s Madame Vice-President elect, could run ❤️😭 https://t.co/sMGP7U10ao— Dr. June M. Sellers 🏳️🌈 (@DrJMSellers) November 7, 2020
The composite image created by artist Bria Goeller is winning accolades because the powerful message it conveys. While it depicts the first Woman Vice President of USA who comes from an Asian-African background, the shadow also belongs to an equally important person in the fight for equality in the historically racist nation. Because, the shadow has been created using a portrait of Ruby Bridges, an American civil rights activist. Ruby was the first black child to get admitted into the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana in November 1960. The portrait was created by artist Norman Rockwell, which depicted Ruby going to school protected by security guards.
At that time, schools and all other public institutions and facilities were segregated for whites and blacks, and Ruby was one among six black students to pass a test to get admission to all-white schools, and she was the first to take admission, at the age of six. During her days at the schools, federal marshals were deployed at the school for her security, as there was apprehension that white students or their guardians may harm her, as the Southern states were still not open to end the segragation.
The combined image of Ruby Bridges and Kamala Harris depics the journey of women of colour in American society, from first girl child to study in an all-white school to the first woman with black background to become the vice president of the country.
Moitra’s long relationship with alleged plagiarism
Mahua was criticized for stealing content for her maiden speech in Lok Sabha. She was offended to a level that she submitted a breach of privilege in the Lok Sabha using her parliamentary powers, but the Lok Sabha speaker turned it down. A fact-checking website found out that the parts of speech she apparently picked, thinking of them as an essential piece of history, were actually from a poster in a gift shop of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She was later found copying a joke from infamous standup comedian Kunal Kamra. Moitra had later tried to clarify that the source of her speech in Lok Sabha was mentioned.