The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Best Mailbag Ever

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Best Mailbag Ever
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante
Clapback MailbagEach Friday, we select the best (or worst) emails, tweets, DMs and comments from our readers and respond to them in the The Root's Clapback Mailbag.

The Clapback Mailbag is over.

We’ll continue to respond to emails, DMs, tweets and comments every Friday but, to be honest, there’ll never be another mailbag as good as this week’s collection of well-moisturized whiteness. This one is filled with 40 percent more whiteness. This one is the fulfillment of all our clapback dreams. This one exemplifies the concept of white tears. This is what we mean when we talk about “whataboutisms.” This is why the mailbag exists.

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This is white people.

In fact, you know I am not a man prone to hyperbole (sarcasm font). However, when this world has ceased to exist; when the oceans have consumed the continents and the sharks are eating the last remaining zebras (because of the long necks); when Jesus or Zeus or T’Challa or the great Panther in the sky returns to itemize and pass judgment on all that has ever existed; after they separate the wheat from the chaff, the lion from the lamb and good from evil; just before they beat the swords into plowshares, they may need a point of reference to understand the phenomenon of white supremacy. If, for some reason, they ask: “What is this Clapback Mailbag whom you speak of?”

Show them this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure, I present:

The greatest Clapback Mailbag of all time.


I inadvertently caused a white tearsunami last week after I shared a memory from my childhood about Dr. Seuss. 

For the TL;DR crowd, what upset many people was my mother’s response to the question about why she chose to shield us from whiteness, specifically, this quote:

“She informed me that our childhood was part of an experiment she had envisioned before we were even born. “A Black person’s humanity can never be fully realized in the presence of whiteness,” she explained.

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As you can imagine, people had thoughts:

From: Jay
To: Michael Harriot

Your Mother sounds like a great woman that was correct in the 1970's & 1980's in S.C. to raise you the way she did 10 years removed from the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King who dreamed of little white girls and little black girls holding hands. In 2021, after 8 years of a Black President (that 50 Million White people voted for) and hundreds of black role models in society at all levels of Industry, Government, entertainment, sports etc. etc. it is time to stop being offended by dead white Americans of a different time and place. Rome was destroyed from within............................

From: ZDX
Subject: Whiteness in Dr. Seuss

You are the kind of person who would crash a wedding and bitch about not having been consulted on food and music choices. You were brought here from your shithole country when your shitty ancestors sold you for beads and gunpowder. Fuck off.

From: Terry
To: Michael Harriot

Look inward, your racism is showing partner. By providing your family with this outlook on race, your mother was doing nothing short of instilling racism in all of you.

From: Ken
To: Michael Harriot

Sure sounds to me your Mother was a racist against Whites judging by reading your article attacking Dr. Seuss. Quote: “In addition to banning Dr. Seuss and pork-related literature, my mother was very intentional about limiting our contact with white people. My three sisters and I were homeschooled during our elementary years. We lived in a Black neighborhood, attended a Black church, and were citizens of a country that once dreamed up an idea called “segregation,” so we didn’t have much contact with white people anyway. But my mother also altered the cover of children’s books or sometimes removed them completely if they had white faces.”

Imagine, even Obama was ok with reading Dr. Seuss! You wackos never cease to amaze me—-always crying “racism” . I guess you would be perfectly fine with burning Zeuss’s books as well. Book you? Certainly not me. I can tell from your article you have nothing to say i want to hear. People like you never want to broach the subject of your own race being involved in the Slave Trade in Africa. I saw a Black woman bragging about her ancestor being involved——oh but he was a “businessman”! Whites in the slave trade were horrible people BUT IF YOU WERE A BLACK MAN INVOLVED——-WHY YOU WERE A “BUSINESSMAN”! The HYPOCRISY ! Just like Mom with Dr. Seuss.

Can’t have those White faces now, can we? Hate to see what Mom would have done with her being a majority.

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Dear everyone,

I have a 165-pound Great Dane named Omar. He is a big pile of sugar who is afraid of everything. He’s so docile that he has been bitten by smaller dogs and has never retaliated. But, because he is so big, some people are afraid of him, which is understandable. If he wasn’t my dog, I’d be afraid of him, too.

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Once, while trimming Omar’s nails, I went too far and cut them to the quick — the part of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. He squealed and, since that day, he avoids getting his nails trimmed. But then—

Hold on.

OK, I’m back. That was my daughter. I’m trying to find an auto mechanic in the town where she attends college before she comes home for spring break. It’s a hassle. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with her car but, a few years ago, her previous car overheated and she was stranded on the side of the road. So now, she is obsessive about preventative maintenance.

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Anyway, as I was saying:

I began taking Omar to a dog groomer at PetSmart. But the last time I took him there, the groomer said he “put his mouth on her.” I guess that’s a euphemism for “tried to bite me,” so she said I couldn’t bring him back. I finally found a groomer who would come to the house and—

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Shit! Let me run to the door real quick.

OK. That was the delivery man. I ordered a case for my iPad because I cracked the screen a few weeks ago. (Can you believe that shit costs $500 to fix?) Of course, I’ve cracked the screen of every phone and device I’ve ever had. I also ordered a few facemasks. They’re pretty easy to get nowadays since everyone is getting vaccinated. I’ve been trying to get vaccinated but it seems like I’m at the bottom of everyone’s list. Well, at least I’ll have a few masks.

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Anyway, what was I talking about?

Oh, yeah. I was just about to compare my dog to the Black people who sold slaves in Africa. See, for years, the Black slave traders had no concept of white people’s version of slavery. They never imagined that someone could dream up a system of perpetual, intergenerational slavery. It’s like giving your child up for adoption and finding out that the adoptive parents were cannibals who had a special preference for eating small children and—

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Wait, my phone just beeped. Let me check it.

Oh, it was just someone sending me this tweet:

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Dammit, I’ve lost my train of thought!

I guess I didn’t have a point. Maybe my mother did hate white people. 

Perhaps she hated them as much as my dog hates dog groomers. My mom probably hates you as much as my daughter hates mechanics or my iPad hates gravity. Maybe she hates them as much as I hate breathing other people’s respiratory droplets. My mom’s racism is like Nancy Pelosi’s blatant hatred for innocent Americans who want to visit the Capitol.

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I have no idea why my mother, dogs, cars, sinus cavities, touchscreens and speakers of the House have arbitrarily decided to prejudice themselves based on nothing at all. Perhaps they should all act like the ignoble white people who bring up their childhoods, Obama, African slave traders and their literal histories to explain why Black people should stop bringing up the white people’s history of racism.

I’ll be sure to tell her.


If you think we’re done, we haven’t even gotten started. The responses to Ishena Robinson’s article made the previous emails look like sixth-grade love notes.

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You may want to take a break.

From: Ken
To: Ishena Robinson

To whom is responsible for content,

My name is Kenneth from Massachusetts and I just read a periodical on my homepage by “Ishena Robinson” that read “the arrogance of white people never ceases to amaze me”.

As a descendent of the Hooker, Hancock & Adams families from Massachusetts I would like to bring to your entire staffs attention that my Family Tree includes CIVIL WAR OFFICERS Major General Joesph Hooker and Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. Both men were instrumental in the Union Army’s victory over the Confederate States of America and without men like them slavery would still exist today.

President John Adams is another person in my family tree, someone who wrote the Massachusetts Constitution which of course you & your entire staff knew became the basis for the U.S. Constitution, something no one except my indigenous, tribal ancestors would be here without.

To think that a member of your staff would disrespect my own and THE GENERAL’S Caucasian heritage for the sake of their own self fufillment & salary makes me ask myself why people with my last name killed each other on both sides of the civil war. I doubt either of these men would appreciate the phrase “Arrogance of WHITE people” by “Ishena Robinson” (ENGLISH surname)

I would appreciate your media department writing a statement apologizing for the work of one of your employees and a statement to me regarding recognition of my grievance.

Sincerely,

“Arrogant White Person”

From: Geno
To: Ishena Robinson

Hey Ishena,

You shoot your mouth off like you are a cut above everyone, I am referring to the opening line you wrote in an article.

“The arrogance of white people never ceases to amaze me.” (You are the racist)— Go back to Jamaica were you belong.

Since you are from Jamaica and came here as an adult, let me give you an education you freaking moron.

First of all the United States Capital is the peoples building, that is, it belongs to the people of the United States. Secondly you idiot that was not an Insurrection that went on, it was a protest about that fiasco of an election that was stole and now these Communist have fenced themselves in so they can forge ahead with their Communist agenda. The Trump supporters were infiltrated by your kind to create this image that the main stream media is using for their narrative. They are trying to paint all Trump supporters as terrorist....Noooooo we are Patriots trying to save our great country, you fricken idiot.

This is not over yet, we will prevail and you and all like you will be snuffed out of the picture and we will make you all irrelevant.

Good always defeats evil. By the way all your articles don’t allow any comments or feed back Hmmmm! wonder why that is? I think I know, you don’t want to here our opinion therefore you are violating all of us our first Amendment rights.

Sincerely

American Patriot (true American)

not a Jamaican transplant like you

From: Shainan
To: Ishena Robinson

While I agree that Isaac Sturgeon is indeed arrogant, saying that white folks are arrogant is like me saying blacks are criminals and really at the end of the day, a completely worthless and burdening race. While both of these statements are predominately true, it is politically incorrect to make public statements degrading white folks by calling them arrogant. This in a time when white folks can’t comment publicly about the ignorance of black folks and their lack of class or solid educations. Whether you like it or not, it IS still a privilege to be white and you will never get to experience a privilege that feels so good. The white man, not necessarily Americans per say, but Germans along with other white populations are the reason our world is as advanced as it is. Black people would still be living like cave people if it was not for the white mans contribution to the world. leaving sports alone, what has any black person done to promote a healthy and happy population?

So, while I as a white man may indeed be arrogant, no matter how bad my day ever gets, at the end of my day I can still say “Ah forget the bad day, after all...I’m white.”

What could be better than that?? Certainly not visiting my family in government housing, as if I would know what that’s like...

From: Shainan
To: Ishena Robinson

I was wrong for my response to your statement in a story about Isaac Sturgeon. The way I responded to your opinion is part of the problem plaguing the racial divide. It was an angry and aggressive response to an opinion I did not like. Your job is to invoke emotions and I fell right into that trap and reacted with a very inappropriate response. Contrary to my salty response, I enjoy all the black folks I work with and I have had friends who are black. I like a lot of people who are black and do not feel the way I stated earlier about these friends and colleagues. I understand there are folks in every community that make the others look bad, it is those few that affect the whole. The black folks I know are hard working and would like better opportunities for them and their children. So I am wrong to say what I said because it was meant to invoke emotion from you as a result of you invoking emotion in me. The back and forth of that is part of our communities problem I believe.

My apologies

Dear readers,

I have no idea what would make Ishena think white people were arrogant.

For instance, when Shainan gloated that Ishena would “never get to experience a privilege that feels so good,” while explaining how Black people were rescued from living in caves,” totally dispels Ishena’s “arrogant” hypothesis. When Geno aligned himself with the insurrectionists and called himself a “True American Patriot” whose cause was undone by negro infiltrators, he really showed Ishena. And Ken’s demand for a written apology to his dead ancestors doesn’t seem like something an arrogant person would do. Especially Gen. Winfield Hancock Scott, whose refusal to enforce the laws that protected freedmen after the Civil War led directly to the slaughter of thousands of Black people during Reconstruction.

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Hold on, let me switch to all caps and say that again.

THIS MOTHERFUCKER DEMANDED AN APOLOGY FOR HIS WHITE ANCESTORS!

What the hell is wrong with her?

I mean Ishena, of course.

I have no clue where Ishena gets these thoughts from. Especially, as Shainan points out, white people are forbidden from complaining about “the ignorance of black folks and their lack of class or solid educations.” While Ishena was privately reprimanded, I have come up with a solution that may make all of you feel better.

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One day, in the distant future, when Ishena is dead and gone—perhaps 200 or so years from the date of her demise—we will send these emails to Ishena’s descendants, who will be as far removed from her as you are from your ancestors. Accompanying the emails will be a detailed explanation of Ishena’s willful disrespect to your forebearers and a humble request for redress. Consider it an act of reparations.

Because we are so confident that they will respond with humility and respect, we will include a template that they can simply fill in. Please rest assured that your great-great-great-great grandchildren will receive an apology from Ishena’s great-great-great-great grandchildren that begins:

“Dear arrogant white motherfuckers...”


People were very upset about this article:

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I was all set to respond to the influx of letters like these two:

From: Frank
To: Michael Harriot

Why are you people so obsessed with race? You’re only 12% of the population in this country. Get up off of your knee, stop whining, and stand up like a man! If you all didn’t behave like filthy animals you might gain some respect. Duh!

From: Gary
To: Michael Harriot

Subject: Florida School

Read your article on the Florida school, I think it’s time to stop calling every white person a racist, give it a rest. The donors have every right to express their opinion and if the black kids have a problem with the school pull out, don’t subject yourself to the racism you say exists..

Blacks are not helping the cause by screaming racism at everything they don’t like, maybe just maybe blacks need to look at their own race and own up to the problems they have.

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But then, I received this letter:

From: James

THE GREAT BLACK FAILURE, BLM, AND THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, A TOTAL DISASTER ! “For almost 150 years the United States has been conducting an interesting experiment. The subjects of the experiment: black people and working-class whites. The hypothesis to be tested: Can a people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population? The whites were descendants of Europeans who had created a majestic civilization. The former slaves had been tribal peoples with no written language and virtually no intellectual achievements. Acting on a policy that was not fair to either group, the government released newly freed black people into a white society that saw them as inferiors. America has struggled with racial discord ever since. Decade after decade the problems persisted but the experimenters NEVER GIVE UP !..WHILE BLACKS COMPOSE ONLY 13% OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION, THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR 50% OF ALL CRIME ! They insisted that if they could find the right formula the experiment would work, and concocted program after program to get the result they wanted. They created the Freedmans Bureau, passed civil rights laws, tried to build the Great Society, declared War on Poverty, ordered race preferences, built housing projects, and tried MID NIGHT BASKET BALL, NOTHING WORKS ! Through the years, too many black people continue to show an inability to function and prosper in a culture unsuited to them. Detroit is bankrupt, the south side of Chicago is a war zone, and the vast majority of black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. And blacks never take responsibility for their failures. Instead, they lash out in anger and resentment. Across the generations and across the country, as we have seen IT EVERY YEAR, FOR YEARS !!!!!!!!!! IN Detroit, Watts, Newark, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, MINNESOTA, NEW YORK, AND ALL ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS BURNING!.. MORE BLACKS ARE KILLING, STEALING, LOOTING AND DESTROYING EVERY THING! SINCE THIS WHOLE THING BEGAN, BUT IS THAT REPORTED IN THE NEWS, ANY WHERE ???..NO !!.. MOST DEMOCRATS HATE OUR COUNTRY AND THE POLICE WHO PLACE THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR ALL OF US EVERY DAY, YET THE MAJORITY OF THE BLACK RACE BLAMES A FEW BAD WHITE COPS, AND ALL POLICE DEPARTMENTS, ALL OF WHITE AMERICA FOR ALL THEIR FAILURES !........ SO FAR AS THE RIOTS HAVE STARTED, OVER A BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF PROPERTY DAMAGE AND COUNTLESS LIVES HAVE BEEN TAKEN, ACROSS OUR COUNTRY BECAUSE OF THE BLACK LIVE MATTER MOVEMENT!!......JUST THE GOD’S TRUTH !!!!!!!!!!!....QUESTION TO THE READER !!..HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF JUST ONE INCIDENT WHERE A BLACK COP ABUSED A WHITE CITIZEN ???.. NO, YOU HAVE NOT !!!... DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT NEVER HAPPENED ???...!!!... But nothing changes no matter how much money is spent, no matter how many laws are passed, no matter how many black geniuses are. OVER 70% OF ALL BLACK FAMILIES ARE RAISED BY A SINGLE MOTHER!... CHECK THE STATS YOURSELF! GOOGLE IT ! ASIANS, JAPANESE, CUBANS, AND CHINESE are winning spelling bees and getting top scores ACROSSS THE COUNTRY!!!... TRUTH IS black youths are committing half the country’s violent crime, which includes viciously punching random white people on the street for THE THRILL OF IT!! BUT THE LEFT WING CONTROLLED MEDIA WILL NEVER PRINT THAT ! GO TO HELL ALL YOU DEMOCRATS! DONALD TRUMP IS THE BEST PRESIDENT THAT WE EVER HAD ! OVER 100 MILLION AMERICANS BOTH BLACK AND WHITE STILL SUPPORT HIM!.. MANY BLACK PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH, YET THEY CONSISTENTLY VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.OVER 98%, CHECK THIS OUT YOURSELF. MUSLIMS, GAYS, SOCIALIST,AND ABORTIONIST. THE THEFT OF OUR TAX MONEY TO THE TUNE OF MILLIONS OF TAX DOLLARS A DAY, SUPPORTING ILLEGAL ALIENS IS WHAT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY STANDS FOR. GUN CONFISCATION, HIGHER TAXES TO PAY FOR BABY KILLING {A WOMANS RIGHT TO CHOOSE THEY LIKE TO CALL IT} THEY HATE OUR POLICE, WANT THE RELEASE OF ALL FELONS TO VOTE. GUESS WHO FOR? THE LEFT-WING WILL NEVER PRINTS AN OPPOSSING SIDE TO THE BLACK LIVES MOVEMENT..JUST AS THE NAZI PRESS CONTROLLED THEIR COUNTRY’S SATANIC PRESS..SO IT IS WITH ALL LEFT-WING LIBERAL NEWS OUTLETS. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BLACK MAN AND A NIGGER! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PIECE OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY WHITE TRASH MAN OR WOMAN, {LIKE YOU}, AND A CHRISTIAN WHITE MAN OR WOMEN ! ! THIS IS NOT RACISM, THIS IS THE TRUTH WHETHER YOU SCUM DEMOCRATS LIKE IT OR NOT ! PRINT THIS ! JIM [redacted] 1810 [redacted] LAUDERDALE FLOORIDA, 33068 954-[redacted]

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I think we’re done here.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

DISCUSSION

detroitkidelo
kidelo (i have a tiktok)

White people sure have a lot of time on their hands since Trump stopped tweeting.