Patterico's Pontifications

4/21/2022

See If You Can Read This Article without Your Eyes Rolling All the Way Back in Your Head

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:07 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Because the nexus of grievance, privilege, profit, celebration, and exploitation is so crowded and full of various twists and turns which can send the earnest progressive astray, I submit this crazy story which appeared in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times. It’s worth reading the whole thing, just to be blown away by how petty and childish today’s intersectionality game truly is, but for fun I am only going to include paragraphs which contain some sort of obnoxious buzzword or catchphrase of the wokedy-woke. See if you can still piece together the entire narrative:

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 on the book’s stated topics of the “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 its core was how people attempt to celebrate Black women without talking about their lived experiences. Things like copying the aesthetics of musicians such as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion without giving them attribution or linking it to their lives.

[. . .]

So she was taken aback when earlier this year, white academic Jennifer Buck released a theology book on trap feminism. While Bowen first introduced the concept of trap feminism nearly a decade ago, she said Buck did not approach her while researching “Bad and Boujee.” The idea of talking about Black women, but not directly engaging with them about their lived experiences, gets to the core of why Bowen first felt the need to label this era and concept of trap feminism.

Bowen coined the term in 2014, taking its name from a hip-hop genre that originated in the South. “Trap” is slang for a house where drugs are sold and the music references street life, violence, poverty and many of the experiences Black people face in the South.

[. . .]

Bowen’s 2021 book “Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist” summarizes the niche topic: “Trap feminism says that Black girls who have ever rocked bamboo earrings, dookie braids, Baby Phat, lace fronts, or those who have worked as hoes, scammers, call-center reps, at daycares, in retail, and those who sell waist trainers and mink lashes on Instagram are all worth the same dignity and respect we give Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.”

[. . .]

“I think the fact that Jennifer Buck does not have the lived experience that makes her the person to write about trap feminism or Black feminism is honestly just the salt in the wound,” Bowen said. “Now we’re also dealing with issues around cultural appropriation, culture vulturing and just kind of like cultural voyeurism that is just icky, you know. It’s just cringe and I hate that we are still doing this in 2022.”

[. . .]

“I did this research directly interviewing women running trap with a research team of primarily black women. Everyone was paid well — those who helped me conduct the research and those interviewed,” Buck wrote. “I will also add: I believe anti-racist work is the work of white people to do, which includes hiring and elevating black voices and all historically marginalized voices in doing theology.”

Author Chanequa Walker-Barnes joined a chorus of voices on Twitter decrying Buck’s approach to this topic within Black culture. One of Walker-Barnes’ first books was published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, a Christian publishing house, which also released “Bad and Boujee” this February.

“It’s not that White scholars can’t write about Black women, but it has to be done with extreme care, a whole lot of cultural sensitivity and humility, and in relationships of accountability with Black women,” Walker-Barnes wrote on Twitter. “And it would probably need a Black woman editor.”

[. . .]

“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,” the publisher said in a statement. “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.”

[. . .]

“I want to call it kind of a psychological violence, if you will. Professor Buck starts this s—storm and then to just turn away from it,” Bowen said. “She has refused so far to engage in this conversation that she has started. That’s not what trap feminism is all about. Because a trap feminist can fight her battles, be accountable and hold people accountable.”

If you are scoring at home, here is a handy word-cloud of all of that academic psychobabble jargon you have just been treated to [note: I have tried to remove most of the anodyne words which mean nothing to the intersectionality racket]:

As for me, I find everyone involved in this fracas to be highly annoying. To be sure, it’s pretty obnoxious when the white author, Jennifer Buck, writes a book centered around a pseudo-intellectual pop culture academic term and doesn’t even bother to consult with the woman who coined the term to begin with. But by the same token, Sesali Bowen’s overreaction to this slight — her invocation of “psychological violence” and all that sort of hogwash — is so over the top as to render her argument meaningless. And why anyone would agree to publish with a publishing house that is apparently both editorially incompetent and rife with cowardly executives is beyond me. I hope they have fun destroying the initial print run.

I could read this article a dozen times and still fail to designate a hero to this story or anyone to really root for as far as that goes, and I am happy to see them form an intellectual firing circle and blast away at each other. The sooner and more thoroughly that this ugly race-hustling with the thinnest veneer of academic legitimacy is consigned to the trash bin of history, the better off all of us will be. Until then, I’m glad that it seems like everyone here loses in some way.

– JVW

19 Responses to “See If You Can Read This Article without Your Eyes Rolling All the Way Back in Your Head”

  1. Things I learned while writing this piece:
    1. “Lived experiences” is something the woke are supposed to obsess over.
    2. We are supposed to hold Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in the esteem in which we hold Michelle Obama and Beyoncé [Knowles-Carter]. OK, I’m pretty much there already.
    3. Cultural appropriation (which I had heard of) has a couple of new offshoots: cultural vulturism (totally cool!) and cultural voyeurism (which, I agree with Ms. Bowen, sounds rather “icky”).
    4. White progressive theologians try their darnedest to do good racial works, but never seem to get it right.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. Nothing new they used to ask how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Purity tests are as old as religion. I got banned from democrat sites for asking where was the evidence of trump/russian collusion. Clintonista liberals have to be more woke to fight the sanders wing of the democrat party.

    asset (d4a30c)

  3. It is appropriate that the article is in the LA Times — and there is an article on the controversy in the New York Times. And, as I knew vaguely, there have been other, recent attempts to get books pulled.

    (Might be some opportunities for speculators to rush out and buy these books before they get pulled. I think used copies of the Dr. Seuss books that will no longer be published are selling for a premium.)

    It is distressing to realize that our tax dollars are, most likely, paying for some of this.

    Incidentally, it is hard to take seriously someone who calls themself a “stallion”, though she is obviously either a filly or a mare. Most likely the latter, but horse people should feel free to correct me. (Yes, I know it was a high school nickname, but that dosn’t mean she has to use it now.)

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  4. When I was much younger, I was fortunate enough to read a book, written by a white man, that portrayed its black protagonist in a very positive light as a human being. However, I’d be surprised to find Conrad’s “The Nigger of the Narcissus” in any school library today.

    When did cultural appropriation become a bad thing, and why? Where’s the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? Is there a line?

    Is it inevitable that any cultural phenomenon that becomes the basis for a college-level course will wind up generating reams of multi-syllabic nonsense?

    John Boddie (b9b5a6)

  5. Now the publishers are burning books.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  6. John Boddie (b9b5a6) — 4/21/2022 @ 1:56 pm

    When did cultural appropriation become a bad thing,

    I’d say ion the last five years, but as usual it goes back further. It was probably always supposed to be a bad thing byt nay have covered different things.

    Wikipedia discuses this

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation

    The first citation in the Oxford English dictionary is from 1945 but the term was popularized in the 1980s. Current usage seeems to date from about 2011 to 2015.

    and why?

    In order to gain amonopoly on the truth, or limit the people who could write about something.

    Where’s the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation? Is there a line?

    Wikipedia the idea has its critics: Those who see this appropriation as exploitative state that cultural elements are lost or distorted when they are removed from their originating cultural contexts, and that such displays are disrespectful or even a form of desecration.[8][14][27][28] Cultural elements that may have deep meaning to the original culture may be reduced to “exotic” fashion or toys by those from the dominant culture.[8][9][29] Kjerstin Johnson has written that, when this is done, the imitator, “who does not experience that oppression is able to ‘play’, temporarily, an ‘exotic’ other, without experiencing any of the daily discriminations faced by other cultures”.[29] The academic, musician and journalist Greg Tate argues that appropriation and the “fetishising” of cultures, in fact, alienates those whose culture is being appropriated.[30]

    The concept of cultural appropriation has also been heavily criticized.[31][32][33] Critics note that the concept is often misunderstood or misapplied by the general public, and that charges of “cultural appropriation” are at times misapplied to situations such as trying food from a different culture or learning about different cultures.[34][35] Others state that the act of cultural appropriation as it is usually defined does not meaningfully constitute social harm, or the term lacks conceptual coherence.[36][37] Additionally, the term can set arbitrary limits on intellectual freedom, artists’ self-expression, reinforce group divisions, or promote a feeling of enmity or grievance rather than of liberation.[37][38][39][40][32]

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  7. There is a further point to this: any academic or scientific inquiry into this concept of “trap feminism” (no, I don’t want to know) is now subject to editorial control by Ms Bowen, which makes any such inquiry utterly useless, and any critical inquiry impossible.

    But then “free and open inquiry” is nothing more than a academic shield when confronted by the barbarians who don’t understand these nuances.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  8. Is it inevitable that any cultural phenomenon that becomes the basis for a college-level course will wind up generating reams of multi-syllabic nonsense?

    Newly coined multi-syllable words are probably closely correlated with nonsense. but it doesn’t have to be inevitable.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  9. Kevin M (eeb9e9) — 4/21/2022 @ 2:33 pm

    There is a further point to this: any academic or scientific inquiry into this concept of “trap feminism” …is now subject to editorial control by Ms Bowen, which makes any critical inquiry impossible.

    That’s the idea.

    Anyone who says differently hasn’t “lived the experience.”

    But then anybody (black and female) can speak or write about it, because according to the Bowen, scammers, call-center reps, women who work in daycares, in retail, or as prostitutes or sell things on Instagram are all entitled to the same dignity as worth the same dignity as Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.

    Beyoncé?

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  10. But then anybody (black and female) can speak or write about it, because according to the Bowen, scammers, call-center reps, women who work in daycares, in retail, or as prostitutes or sell things on Instagram are all entitled to the same dignity as worth the same dignity as Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.

    Did Bowen run that past Michelle? I mean, it’s not like she’s lived the First Lady’s life, so how can she compare her to scammers, hoes and thieves? It’s not particularly flattering to Mrs Obama.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  11. The house is on fire and they’re focused on crabgrass in the front yard.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  12. I worry about you, JVW.

    nk (1d9030)

  13. I worry about you, JVW.

    I confess that I do give ample reason for it.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  14. We bought into this, at some level. Every aspect of our lives has become commodified, down to the word. And there are certain words that should be a hard “sell” for most rational people at this point.

    Leviticus (8f2ce1)

  15. Clintonista liberals have to be more woke to fight the sanders wing of the democrat party.
    asset (d4a30c) — 4/21/2022 @ 1:19 pm

    I do not pretend to possess any insight into either of those two factions, but the existence of this dynamic suggests an explanation for the rarefied heights of madness displayed by the left.

    felipe (484255)

  16. John Boddie (b9b5a6) — 4/21/2022 @ 1:56 pm

    The maxim for writers, “write what you know,” comes to mind. The only credit I give to this mess is that this maxim has been violated. The method of protest, however, is overwrought by so many rebels without a cause, all virtue-signaling – which is nothing new – what is new, though, is the adults rolling over in a stunned (feigned?) response.

    felipe (484255)

  17. Kevin M (eeb9e9) — 4/21/2022 @ 4:06 pm

    Bingo! But Michelle prolly knows enough that calling Bowen out risks being cast out.

    felipe (484255)

  18. I confess that I do give ample reason for it.
    JVW (ee64e4) — 4/21/2022 @ 6:44 pm

    Heh!

    felipe (484255)

  19. Leviticus (8f2ce1) — 4/21/2022 @ 8:03 pm

    How good it is to read your comment, Levi.

    O.K., enough commenting, must not gather any more moss.

    felipe (484255)


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