Statement on Reporter Sally Jacobs/NPR Boston

Why I Refuse to be Silenced by NPR Boston!!!

By: Arica L. Coleman

Plagiarism: an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.–Dictionary.com

Plagiarism 101

June 12, 2017, was the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision which declared prohibitions against interracial marriage unconstitutional.  There were numerous articles written on the subject. I have published extensively on this case, the couple, and their community since 2006, which recently included a book chapter in Virginia Women Their Lives and Times, Vol.2 and three online articles here, here, and here. In April, I completed a series of interviews with Boston NPR (WGBH News) reporter Sally Jacobs for a three part series she was working on in collaboration with Schuster Institute of Journalism on the subject of interracial marriage. With so much work to do, I decided that my contribution to the NPR project would have to suffice for my contribution to the Loving commemoration.

Now I wish I had never agreed to work with Jacobs or WGBH.  The article, as demonstrated below is plagiarize and I have been marginalized, misrepresented, and censored.

Censored

In response to my comment and others who questioned the integrity of the article, WGBH has deleted the comment section stating:

Editor’s Note: Arica L. Coleman, who is featured in this story, submitted a comment accusing the reporter of not properly crediting her scholarly work on Mildred Loving. WGBH News takes questions of journalistic integrity seriously and we have spoken with Coleman about her concerns. We find her claim to be without merit and stand by the story.

We thank Coleman for lending her expertise to this story. She was one of many sources the reporter consulted.

On the advice of legal counsel, we have removed the comments because they contained defamatory statements.

I also contacted Deidre Bannon, Associate Editor of the Schuster Institute about my concerns. Note the difference in her response:

Dear Arica

As our part of the collaboration, we launched a microsite late yesterday with resources and timelines related to the Loving v. Virginia decision. In fact, you will find that we listed and linked to your book and website in that section. You can find the microsite here.

From the SI microsite:

Want to learn more?

“That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia” (2013, Indiana University Press).

​For further reading on race in Virginia, “That the Blood Stay Pure” by historian Arica L. Coleman, Ph.D. provides a thorough historical guide to relations between African Americans and Native Americans and adds valuable context to the debate over Mildred Loving’s racial identity.

“That the Blood Stay Pure” was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2014. Coleman was a featured expert on the subject in the three-part “Loving Day” commemorative series collaboration by WGBH News and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. (a graphic of my book cover appears next to the text).

Update: WGBH has revised the article using the annotated copy I submitted with my complaint. They still do not identify my book, but cite the original sources for the information lifted from the chapter on Loving.

Preface to My Comment on Jacobs’ Article

Arica L. Coleman 19 hours ago

WGBH’s webmaster has deleted my comment 4xs. I have taught both college level English Composition and history. I know what plagiarism is and I know my own damn work! The webmaster should have reported my comment to staff administrators instead of deleting it as spam. I contacted Kate Zachry, director of the newsroom myself. Now she is asking for my silence. “Plagiarism is a serious accusation,” stated Zachry. She asked that I refrain from reposting my comment while “she looks into this.” In the words of Hall and Oates, “I can’t go for that . . . No can do! My work was co-opted and I have a right to voice my displeasure and reclaim my intellectual property.

Comment 30 hours ago

Sally Jacobs is a plagiarist!

She first contacted me back in January about the loving case and we did a series of telephone interviews. First, this article is based on my work on Loving which is from a chapter in my award-winning book That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia (Indiana University Press, 2013), a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2014.

Chapter 5 titled “Beyond Black and White: Afro-Indian Identity and Loving v Virginia” focuses on Mildred Loving’s racial identity (which during her lifetime fluctuated from Negro to Indian to Part Negro-Part Indian), and not so much on genealogy, as Jacobs asserts. Instead, her identity is placed within the context of Virginia’s 400 year obsession with racial purity and its impact on the small community of Central Point, where the couple resided. The first iteration of this chapter appeared in my 2005 dissertation and was first published in Souls: A Journal of Black Politics and Culture in 2006.

Also, the secondary premise of her article about the historic marker was also based on information she got from me. In other words, nothing in this piece is original.

Jacobs and I spoke several times between January and April, but I became wary of her and complained to her and her producer Josh Swartz about the way I was being treated. Although Jacobs called me “the smartest person on the subject,” she acted as if I was her informant or research assistant rather than the expert that I am. I had a mind to pull out of the studio interview, but Swartz reassured me in an email dated April 14, which stated:

“Hi Arica, This is Josh, the producer working with Sally Jacobs. Thanks for your willingness to do this interview and for voicing your concerns to me. I hear you and I want you to know that we reached out to you because you are the expert on this topic and your track record is impressive and compelling. I promise to honor that.”

I also decided to remain with the project to insure that my work would not be co-opted. Well, not only am I and my work not properly identified in this article, Ms. Jacobs did not give me the courtesy of sending me the article link. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Jacobs (and her producer) needs to, as Aretha said, “find out what that means!”

To be an award winning, nationally recognized scholar, a black woman who spent almost 20 years building my reputation on this work only to have it co-opted by a white female reporter who viewed me as simply The Help, is indeed maddening!

For more information about me and the work I do as a historian and author, visit my website at www.aricalcoleman.com. You will find a link to my book (click on the subheading Book) and several articles on Loving v. Virginia (located at the bottom of my home page under Recent Post or click on the subheading Online Articles).
Arica L. Coleman, Ph.D.

The Evidence:  This link to a Power Point Presentation in PDF format provides information on  the number of minutes I spent on the telephone with Jacobs and selected emails I obtained from her during the period December 16, 2016  -May, 24, 2017, From Sally Jacobs.  * Follow this link to an annotated copy of the Jacobs article,Jacob’s annotated article.

In Conclusion: 

My experience with WGBH was a demoralizing one and should serve as a cautionary tale for those who may assume that the reputation of a news institution such as NPR guarantees that its journalists will exercise the highest standards of ethics and journalistic integrity expected of a highly regarded news organization. Interesting, I was told by a journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity, that this is common journalistic practice. Numerous academics have had their works co-opted by journalists who seek their expertise and then present expert ideas as their own without due credit.

To be suppressed and censored by a news outlet is indeed the height of irony. But I remain steadfast and undaunted. They can close the article comment section and use terms such as “legal counsel” and “defamatory statements” in an attempt to invoke intimidation, but in the words of my ancestors, “I shall not be moved!” I will continue to write and speak my truth unabashed, unapologetic, and unafraid.

*My Twitter account is currently suspended because I refused to remove Jacobs’ emails.  Looks like the suspension will be permanent because I don’t plan to remove them, ever.