I was all set to post a blog this week about the Trifeca of blogs that I was able to string together last week. But then I was stopped in my tracks by something that I did not see coming. It has lead to me think very deeply about this to the point that I just have not felt like writing anything for awhile. One of my Huffington Post articles was plagiarized. This has struck me in so many different ways that I may have to give apologies out for the possible length of this post and possible hurt feelings as well.
Being a writer in any form is not easy as it is. Being a blogger or a freelancer may be a little harder because if it does pay (which in my case, it doesn’t) it simply is not enough. In most cases we are writing for the love of it and for recognition. I get satisfaction from the fact that my name is out there and people are reading what I wrote. I am always humbled by any recognition I get because I am my worst critic. Over the years, I spend time improving myself it both style and grammar. I try to make my writing as engaging as possible so that I can get complex thoughts across. For all intents and purposes, it’s my other job that I do strictly pro bono.
I took a chance by switching up my type of articles for the Huffington Post. I knew that I had to fact check what I was doing and back it up with citations if anyone wants to know where I happen to get my information from. This is the type of work that requires effort on my part. Its almost as if I was getting ready to write a 20 research paper on the historical significance of Afro Latinos. Trust me, I have the materials and I can do it (and it would be fantastic). The point here is that I made sure that I did the work I needed to do in order to create 2 articles that I am proud of.
Then it happened. I was notified by the Justice League (Latinegr@s Project) that a part of my article was plagiarized right on Tumblr. I was shocked and then I had to look it up myself. Bingo, a pure copy and paste job. A word for word account of Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez with a picture. There was no link. There was no information as to where the person got this information. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she found the article and was so excited that this information was available that she posted it thinking that it would be ok.
Let me go back and say something about the people I chose for this article. You have to realize that information about Afro Latinas in history is almost non existent. The information of names and pictures may be easy to find but not biographical information. There is a picture of a Afro Mexican woman that I have no information on other than her picture, which means I cannot write about her. Which leads me to Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez. Her picture had circulated around the internet for a few weeks. Bad-dominicana wrote some bits about her and piqued my initial interest.* I did not want to write about her. I will admit that wanted to stay away because I didn’t want to be accused of copying someone. But, when I researched her and read up on her story (there is a book about her — ask the plagiarizer if she knew that), I knew that I had to add her to my article.
The story of Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez is just an example of how hard it is to find information. I had to enlist my people at the Latinegr@s Project to help me find other Afro Latinas because I knew these women have more knowledge than I did. I had no problem putting their names in the article because that is what you are supposed to do. They put in the time to help me and thus should get credit for the help.
Which brings me to my point about plagiarism. I get the fact that people are lazy. I get the fact that sometimes people may forget to cite someone, or perhaps they don’t know how. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to just copy and paste something to make my life easier when I’m writing my research papers. Even in the editing process of my articles, I find myself changing words and phrasing because plagiarism will hurt my credibility and to a blogger, who does not get paid, that is everything. When people forget these thing or just copy and paste, they are shitting on the work of the original poster. It is essentially saying that you did the work and not me. That is like me taking the work of the original author and posting it as my own.
The point of these articles was to pass along information so that if people really are interested in learning more about those who have paved the way for us, they would do the research themselves. Go beyond my work and look up these people in libraries where there are books with actual text. There is no amount of apology that, for the moment, can be accepted. Sure, the post can be updated citing me, but as Bianca would say, “Do Better.”
You want to cite me? Here are some instructions on doing so.
*I adjusted this post due to the nature of the original language used.