Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Rachel Hollis Has Apologized After Posting A Maya Angelou Quote Without Attribution

Hollis blamed the misstep on her team.

Posted on April 27, 2020, at 3:04 p.m. ET

Instagram guru and author Rachel Hollis said she is sorry after she appeared to attribute a famous Maya Angelou quote to herself on her Instagram account, while simultaneously blaming it on her team.

Hollis, who has been accused of plagiarizing quotes on social media multiple times in the past, posted the quote "Still, I RISE" to her Instagram account over the weekend.

The photo seemed to imply that Hollis attributed the quote to herself, as she frequently posts quotes with attribution on her page and there was no other attribution on the quote. And the post, with its white background and image of Hollis's profile photo and username, used the same style as other posts in which Hollis has excerpted her own writing.

However, the quote is actually the title of a famous Maya Angelou poem.

Many people on Instagram began to repost the photo to express their rage with Hollis implying she was behind "Still, I rise."

"Dear @msrachelhollis I need you to give credit to the ancestor Maya Angelou. This co opt of her work without attribution is NOT ok..." wrote one person on the account @CkYourPrivilege.

The misattributed quote then made its way to Twitter, where it caught the attention of writer and producer Austin Channing Brown.

"White female influencers: It’s not that hard to CITE BLACK WOMEN," Brown wrote in a thread. "Yes, in your writing, on your IG, in your pretty lettered quote graphics, on twitter, in your speeches. Stop pretending that our brilliance is your work. I’m too close to the edge to be nice.

"It’s matters that we acknowledge the work of Black women. For example, Maya Angelou also popularized 'know better, do better' especially bc she reminded her mentee Oprah Winfrey of this mantra in an attempt to encourage us all to avoid shame and embrace our own growth," Brown continued.

Imma just call it all the way out. Don’t do this shit. And she ain’t the only one.

Brown's thread soon went viral, and many other women called out Hollis for co-opting Angelou's famous quote for herself.

White women, we have to call this stuff out. Rachel Hollis plagerized this from a black woman. UNACCEPTABLE. https://t.co/jWWurKrlrp

If you—a white person—think Rachel Hollis plagiarizing a Black woman is wrong, and you—a white person—make a habit of co-opting the rhetoric and language of Black women to make jokes, you are part of the problem. 🤷🏼‍♀️

And many said they hoped it would be a learning experience for Hollis and others who attempt to plagiarize black artists.

Here’s what I want women of whiteness to learn from the Rachel Hollis incident: • You are not above getting called all the way the heck out. • You do not get to use black women and then turn around and abuse us without getting your wig snatched.

Some people were just here for the takedown.

An actual visual representation of me watching people decimate Rachel Hollis on social media

There were also some choice Michael Scott references.

“Still, I rise -Maya Angelou” -Rachel Hollis

After the backlash, Hollis deleted the post. She then posted a photo of a heart with an apology.

She wrote:

This morning I found out that my social team posted a graphic on my Instagram yesterday that said, “Still… I Rise”

That is, obviously, an immortal line from a Maya Angelou poem — only, no credit was given to her. I immediately deleted the post but I want to make sure and publicly apologize. While I didn’t create or post the graphic, I am the leader of the team that did and so I accept full responsibility for their actions. I can’t imagine how deeply hurtful it is to the African American community to see the words of your heroes used without credit. This has happened to you far too often and I hate — I literally HATE — that anything produced by my company added to your pain. I heard once that the only real apology was one where you don’t make an excuse, and so I won’t. I am deeply sorry. I understand that this post without credit is not a little thing to you… this is death by a thousand cuts. This is the millionth type of incident like this you’ve experienced. This is not OK. I apologize, sincerely. We will do better.

Some of her followers appreciated her response.

"Everyone makes mistakes. The good you and your team put into this world far outweighs this. I love the quote and immediately thought of Maya Angelou. My thought was that she was being honored in the post," wrote one person.

But other people felt her apology missed the mark.

"While I appreciate the effort this still strikes me as odd. You say there’s no excuse, etc., yet you then throw your social media team under the bus. Just say sorry and move on. We don’t need your explanations," said one person.

And others felt it was indicative of a pattern of behavior.

"You often use other people’s quotes without crediting them," one commenter wrote. "This has been demonstrated over and over again. Except this time you were caught. You didn’t even take full responsibility, you blamed your team."

Rachel Hollis didn't return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

ADVERTISEMENT