Posted on April 20, 2022

A White Author’s Book About Black Feminism Was Pulled After a Social Media Outcry

Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times, April 15, 2022

The blurb for the book “Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology” says that it “engages with the overlap of Black experience, hip-hop music, ethics and feminism to focus on a subsection known as ‘trap feminism.’”

But the book, written by Jennifer M. Buck, a white academic at a Christian university, was criticized by some authors and theologians as academically flawed, with deeply problematic passages, including repeated references to the ghetto. The project was also widely condemned on social media as poorly executed and as an example of cultural appropriation.

In response to the criticism, the book’s publisher, Wipf and Stock Publishers, decided on Wednesday that it would pull the title from circulation.

The incident touched on a larger debate in the world of publishing over when, how, and even whether, it is appropriate for authors to write about subjects outside their own culture.


The theologian Candice Marie Benbow, author of “Red Lip Theology,” was “livid” to learn that a white academic had published a book about the theology of trap feminism — an emerging philosophy that examines the intersection of feminist ideals, trap music and the Black southern hip-hop culture that gave rise to it.

“It matters that you have an academic text that would situate Black women’s lived experiences and Black women’s spirituality, and it’s not written by a Black woman,” she said.

Sesali Bowen, a pioneer of the concept of trap feminism and the author of “Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes From a Trap Feminist,” also took issue with the author’s failure to properly credit or engage with the Black women who have been leading experts in the field.

“Even if another Black woman did this, the issues around citation would still exist,” she said. “The fact that this is also a white woman, who has no business writing about this because nothing about the trap or Black feminism is her lived experience, is adding another layer to this.”

In a statement, Wipf and Stock Publishers said that its critics had “serious and valid” objections.

“We humbly acknowledge that we failed Black women in particular, and we take full responsibility for the numerous failures of judgment that led to this moment,” Wipf and Stock said. {snip}

Among the objections raised, the publisher said, were the book’s cover, which features a young Black woman with natural hair, and which Benbow called intentionally misleading and “profoundly racist,” and the lack of endorsement by Black experts. The book’s only endorsement came from another white academic at Azusa Pacific University, where the author, Buck, is an associate professor in the department of practical theology.

Buck, in her introduction to “Bad and Boujee,” briefly addresses “identity politics” and acknowledges that as “a straight, privileged, white woman” she has “not lived the embodied experiences of a trap queen,” but was drawn to the subject because of her love of hip-hop.


While publishers have pulled nonfiction books over controversies involving plagiarism or fabrication, or in some cases consequential factual inaccuracies, it’s unusual for a publisher to withdraw a book over objections about how an author approached the subject, or the author’s background.