(NEW YORK)– Wipf and Stock Publishers has confirmed reports it removed and ceased distribution of Jennifer M. Buck’s book, Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, after days of criticism. Some critics argued that Buck, as a white woman, did not have the ability to write a theology that comes from Black women’s experience, and others said the book presented as newly framed ideas that had already been established by Black women over decades.

PEN America issued the following response from Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, Senior Director of Literary Programs: “When debates over books and authors have a racial dimension, they can get heated quickly because they tap into long histories of exclusion and marginalization of people of color by publishers and other culture-shaping institutions. But Buck’s publisher’s decision to withdraw a book from circulation is misguided and regrettable. There must be no hard and fast rules about who is entitled to tell certain stories or engage particular topics. Such redlines constrain creative and intellectual freedom and impair the role of literature and scholarship as catalysts to understanding across differences. Publishers should be prepared to engage critical discussion of works they put out into the world, and to withstand the pressure when the temperature rises. Amid a raging tide of book bans across the country, prohibitions that overwhelmingly target works by authors of colors, we need publishers to hold firm against forces aiming to disappear books they find objectionable. By withdrawing a book publishers deprive audiences of their right to read, and to form independent judgements on the subjects both the author and her antagonists’ raise. That detracts from public discourse and feeds into a climate where authors, editors and publishers are disincentivized to take risks. An environment of intimidation where unpopular books are swept off shelves does not serve authors, readers or thinkers of any background.”

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, STrimel@PEN.org, 201-247-5057