Last week, the publisher of “Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology” pulled it from distribution after critics raised concerns about the white author’s qualifications to write about the book’s stated topics. black experience, hip-hop music, ethics, and feminism.
Among those critics was author Sesali Bowen, who coined the concept of trap feminism years ago. At the root was the way people try to celebrate black women without talking about their lived experiences. Things like copying the aesthetics of musicians like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion without giving them attribution or tying it to their lives.
Bowen says she wanted to showcase these women because we often talk about it without ever talking about it.
So she was surprised when earlier this year, white scholar Jennifer Buck published a theology book on trap feminism. While Bowen first introduced the concept of trap feminism nearly a decade ago, she said Buck didn’t approach her while researching “Bad and Boujee.” The idea of talking about black women, but not directly engaging with them about their lived experiences, goes to the heart of why Bowen first felt the need to label this era and concept. of trap feminism.
Bowen coined the term in 2014, taking his name from a hip-hop genre that originated in the South. “Trap” is slang for a house that sells drugs, and the music references life on the streets, violence, poverty, and many of the experiences black people face in the South.
Buck is an associate professor of practical theology at Azusa Pacific University of Southern California, a private evangelical Christian college. Her book features a black woman on the cover and throughout with references to the lived experiences of black women, according to the book’s online description. She did not respond to The Times’ requests for comment on the fallout.
Bowen’s 2021 book “Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist” sums up the niche topic: “Trap feminism says that black girls who have ever worn bamboo earrings, dookie braids, baby phat, lace fronts, or those who have worked as hoes, crooks, center reps calls, in child care centers, in retail, and those selling sneaker sizes and mink lashes on Instagram are all worth the same dignity and respect we give to Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.
Bowen shared a recent exchange she had with Buck on Instagram.
After a few messages, Bowen wrote to Buck: “I think more than anything, I would like to know what brought you to this research, why you thought you were the best person to do it, and why it is not in conversation with people who have been doing trap feminism for years?
She says she hasn’t heard from her.
“I think I was just shocked at the lack of awareness, if you will. I think it was just disheartening,” Bowen told The Times of the whole ordeal.
Bowen holds a master’s degree in gender studies from Georgia State University; she understand the process of academic research. She says if Buck had googled “trapping feminism”, his work would have come. Instead, Buck cited Bowen’s work in a footnote to his book.
“I think the fact that Jennifer Buck doesn’t have the lived experience that makes her the person to write about trap feminism or black feminism is honestly just salt in the wound,” Bowen said. “Now we’re also dealing with issues of cultural appropriation, cultural popularization and a kind of cultural voyeurism that’s just gross, you know. It’s just cringe and I hate that we’re still doing this in 2022. »
In a separate Instagram exchange with Christian writer Jo Luehmann, Buck explained his research process.
“I did this research by directly interviewing female trappers with a research team of mostly black women. Everyone was well paid – those who helped me conduct the research and those who were interviewed” Buck wrote, “I will also add: I believe anti-racism work is white people’s work to do, which includes hiring and elevating black voices and all historically marginalized voices in theology.”
Author Chanequa Walker-Barnes joined a voice-over choir Twitter decrying Buck’s approach about it within black culture. One of Walker-Barnes’ first books was published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, a Christian publishing house, which also published “Bad and Boujee” in February.
“It’s not that white scholars can’t write about black women, but it has to be done with extreme care, a lot of cultural sensitivity and humility, and in responsible relationships with black women,” wrote Walker-Barnes on Twitter. “And it probably needs a black editor.”
“We humbly acknowledge that we have failed Black women in particular, and we take full responsibility for the many lapses in judgment that led to this moment,” the publisher said in a statement. “Our critics are right: we should have seen many red flags, including but not limited to the inappropriateness of a white theologian writing about the experience of black women (the issue of cultural appropriation is ubiquitous, from cover to content), the lack of black endorsers, and the apparent lack of connections with black scholars, especially those who are driving the trap feminist discourse.
Bowen said Buck’s silence is the least trapping feminist approach to this controversy.
“I want to call it a kind of emotional abuse, if you will. Professor Buck starts it s—storm and then just walk away from it,” Bowen said. “She has so far refused to engage in this conversation that she started. This is not the goal of trap feminism. Because a trap feminist can fight her battles, be responsible, and hold people accountable.