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Last week, I tweeted a question: What if Taylor Swift tried to bite Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales album and came out with a “Heather Tales”? Well, something similar actually happened this week.

I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet from my homie, Dr. Charles Cole, about a woman named Jennifer Buck.

Jen wrote a book called Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology. On the cover of this book is a beautiful, dark-skinned Black woman with a glorious afro. The synopsis on Amazon reads:

So nope, she’s just a White woman whose blasphemy falls under the appropriation category in exploiting the culture and coin of Black women. I’m declaring her “Cultural Appropriation Karen” and inducting her into the Karen Hall of Shame.

Jen committed two cultural appropriation violations. First, she stole “trap feminist” without consulting with or giving adequate credit to the Black women that created the term and built on the ideology. She committed intellectual property theft.

Author Sesali Bowen wrote a book called Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes From a Trap Feminist and first coined the term “trap feminism” in 2012. However – and straight from Sesali herself – Buck did not reach out to her to ask permission to use the terminology nor even quote her in the book. Bowen only received a measly footnote and a private “appreciate your writing”.

It’s a classic example of attempts to erase Black women and co-opt our creativity and genius.

A Karen tried to steal "Trap Feminism" from Black women in new book cultural appropriation
Jennifer Buck. (Amazon)

Cultural appropriation

Second, as RDJ said on Twitter, Cultural Appropriation Karen is “catfishing” buyers in an attempt to profit socially or financially from a minority group. It reminds me of when Bath and Body Works tried to sell us those mahogany teakwood candles dressed in kente cloth during Black History Month.

Black people have an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars in spending power, but we’re some of the most impoverished people in the country. We’re constantly marketed to and preyed on but our communities and businesses have been denied meaningful investment.

Anyone that failed to do their due diligence in Googling Jennifer Buck would probably assume from the image on the book sleeve, title and abstract that she’s a Black woman. They’d be duped by a scheme to manipulate the spending of Black people by using our culture as the appeal to boost her capital gain. 

But, Cultural Appropriation Karen’s plot was foiled by diligent Black women and allies who weren’t going to stand for her fraudulence. By the power and surge of social media outrage, the book will be pulled from publication and distribution.

So let this be a lesson to all of the Karens that think about trying it. Black women are protective of our genius, creativity and culture. From here on out, y’all need to find your own.

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work--"If not me then who?" As a strategist and injustice interrupter, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for radical...

4 replies on “A Karen tried to steal “Trap Feminism” from Black women in new book”

  1. I will not write or try to make any arguments about this book you are referring to in this article since I do not believe I have proper standing. However, I am leaving a reply here to highlight inaccuracies of your article. Here is a little background: I am currently a student where Dr. Buck teaches and have taken one of her courses in the past. I believe you have read that right; she has a PhD which qualifies her as a Dr. You have used this title to address Dr. Charles as such yet cannot seem to leave your emotions aside to at least once address her not as Jen or Karen, but as a Dr. I believe you have also addressed Dr. Buck as a white woman. Here is another question: how white can a woman be to qualify as a white woman? Where does cultural appropriation fit in your assessment of her status? Should she be as protective as you are to your community? I believe you have also read that right. Is Dr. Buck part of the “white” community narrative you have placed her in without knowing her story? Here is another background information about me: I did not receive the highest grade in her class. This is not a defense for this book, but a defense for a person you have incorrectly and unjustly characterized. In other words, I am making the same argument you have made in this article. If you want society to change where the community you claim to represent has deservedly a seat at the table, it certainly cannot be this way. If Dr. Buck should have conducted a more through research, should you not have done the same about her or the community you have placed her in? Did you speak to any of her students or faculty members before publishing? I mean I understand why you wouldn’t. That’s because placing a “white woman” title sells, right?

  2. Oh Edison. That’s a whole long paragraph’s worth of words just to say “well, what about YOU?!?” like a child avoiding the responsibility being laid at their feet for their misbehavior. Take the note and do better.

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