Wipf and Stock Publishers confirmed today that it has initiated the removal and ceased distribution of Jennifer M. Buck’s book, Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, after days of criticism directed at the book.
In an April 14 email to Sojourners, Jim Tedrick, Wipf and Stock’s director of publications, said they had “initiated the removal [of] the book from publication and distribution” and would be releasing a statement later that day.
Cascade, an imprint of Wipf and Stock, originally published Bad and Boujee on Feb. 22. The book, according its back cover description, “engages with the overlap of black experience, hip-hop music, ethics, and feminism to focus on a subsection known as ‘trap feminism’ and construct a Trap Feminist Theology.”
Buck, who is white, has been presenting on “Trap Feminist Theology” since 2017, according to her curriculum vitae. She is currently a professor and program director at Azusa Pacific University, in the department of practical theology. Buck did not immediately respond to Sojourners request for comment.
On April 11, Jo Luehmann, a popular Christian writer and podcaster, criticized Bad and Boujee on her Instagram account, after asking Buck how she was qualified to write a book on the experience of Black women. Luehmann’s comments were deleted, she told Sojourners, and Buck messaged her privately in an effort to discuss the question. Luehmann has shared screenshots of the interaction on her Instagram account.
Buck, according to the screenshots, said she did her research “directly interviewing women running trap with a research team of primarily black women.” “Trap” is a reference to trap music, which was pioneered by Black hip hop artists in the South in the 1990s. “Bad and Boujee” is a reference to the Migos and Lil Uzi Vert song of the same name.
Some said that Buck, as a white woman, did not have the ability to write a theology that comes from Black women’s experience, and others have criticized the book’s content and aim — particularly Buck presenting her book as building an ethic already built by Black women over decades. People also made criticisms about racism and appropriation in publishing and academia.
“Trap feminism” is a term coined by entertainment journalist and author Sesali Bowen, at least as early as 2014. Bowen shared on Twitter her interactions with Buck in screenshots. Buck, according to the screenshots, said she footnoted Bowen’s work after a research assistant came across it.
In response to the news that Wipf and Stock would be ceasing publishing and distribution, theologian Candice Marie Benbow told Sojourners: “While it doesn’t erase the harm done, I hope Wipf and Stock will use this as an opportunity to familiarize themselves with and amplify the many Black feminist and womanist scholars and practitioners who engage in work, grounded in their lived experience, that truly highlights and heals Black women.”
Many people on social media raised concerns about the status of Amazon reviews of the book, with one user pointing out that Amazon appeared to be suspending reviews and ratings. At the time this article was published, the book had a single one-star rating and no reviews.
Authors and publishers do not control Amazon reviews, though people can report reviews for abuse. Wipf and Stock told Sojourners that they had made no attempts to pull or delete reviews.
At the time of publication, Wipf and Stock had not released a statement on its social media channels.
Update April 15, 1:30 p.m.:
On April 15 Wipf and Stock issued a formal statement, writing that they “quickly realized that critics of the book—and critics of Wipf and Stock for publishing it—have serious and valid criticisms,” and that they would “continue to consider tangible ways to repair the harm and to make the changes necessary to avoid making the same mistakes.”
“Our critics are right: we should have seen numerous 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 pervasive, from cover to content), the lack of Black endorsers, and the apparent lack of relationship with Black scholars, especially those who originated the trap feminist discourse,” the statement reads. “We are deeply sorry to have published a book that has betrayed the trust of our authors and readers and that has damaged our ability to support work that we both value and believe is vitally important to the church and world at this time—especially the work of womanist and Black feminist theologians.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 1:30 p.m. Eastern on April 15 to include a statement from Wipf and Stock.