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 passed the work off as her own.
Read Foster's full essay here.
"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 tolAisha Curryd 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."
The Fresno, Calif.-based mother and wife of a professional athlete acknowledged that there is the slim chance that Foster could have penned the blog essay, however, she believes otherwise.
"I cannot and will not say she stole my idea, because you never should assume. However, I will say that It seemed like one heck of a coincidence and everything I touched on she did," Curry offered, before adding: "All of my family kept telling me: 'All things work together for good to themPretty for a Black Girl! that love God and who are called according to his purpose.' (Romans 8:28) I love God and I believe that I am called according to His purpose. I am standing strong on His word and even if I don't get the credit on earth, my reward is still in heaven. I just want other people to know that you don't have to sit around and do nothing when you feel wronged."
Incidentally, Curry shared that she had sent her book to an Atlanta-based foundation more than a month ago, so the timing of Foster's story is eerily coincidental.
"I offered to send my book to an Atlanta foundation whose purpose was to encourage and uplift young women in their community. I am a local author out of Fresno so I jumped at the chance to change lives and get some exposure for my book. After sending my book and failing to receive a promised phone call from the foundation members I was baffled. Though I had sent the book about a month and a half ago, I shrugged it off and went on with my daily duties of being a wife, mother and book author," she explained.
Though discouraged and heartbroken by Foster's apparent actions, Curry still hopes the message of 'Pretty For a Black Girl' resonates with people.
"It's written for a entire generation of women being told they are nothing if they are not what some people consider 'pretty.' I focused on that topic because I can onlUsher Raymond & Tameka Fostery speak on what I know and what I have experienced. People would tell me all the time that I was 'pretty for a black girl' and I wasn't sure what to make of it. I felt it was a compliment, but it also felt like an insult. I reached out to the community via YouTube in 2008 and sought the opinions of others. I had over 80,000 viewers and at the time, it was an issue that no one had really addressed publicly. My goal was to empower young women and to help them realize that they are beautiful no matter what color, race or gender they are. The book was self-published in March 2008 and I was ecstatic, but also nervous because I knew the topic would stir up controversy. I was prepared for the backlash about the subject matter, but I wasn't prepared for what happened now," she concluded.
BV Buzz contacted The Huffington Post about the the matter. Their press rep said they needed more details before commenting.
Foster's publicist sent BV Buzz an inflammatory statement, however the gist of it read: "Tameka has never even heard of the book you referenced nor does she believe you even deserve a response."