The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: A Long List of Liars

Image: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/G-O)

I don’t know if you heard about it, but I wrote something pretty controversial this week.

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I’ve always wondered how some people could live in a country so rife with inequality and racism and somehow conclude that race and whiteness had absolutely nothing to do with it, which was exactly why I wrote what I wrote. I knew there would be pushback (although I had no idea there would be this much) and I was ready to clap back. But then, I discovered something interesting:

Some people actually believe that shit.

Or maybe they’re just lying.

Let’s see.


There were quite a few people who accused me of being racist towards white people:

From: Ras
To: Michael Harriot

I see you are embracing capitalism by packaging and marketing hate towards the evil white, heterosexual male. You love keeping black people down and telling them the only antidote to their woes is buying into what you have to say!

From: Rebecca
To: Michael Harriot

How do you move around with a chip the size of a Volkswagen weighing you down?

From: James
To: Michael Harriot

Ooh, Michael Harriot can curse...isn’t he special! That puts you on the level of most club DJ’s and emcee’s, congrats. And... “Buttigieg explained whitely”, really? Maybe you are the racist in this equation.

From: Sarah
To: Michael Harriot

You are nothing more than a race baiter. Do you think it was necessary to keep calling Mayor Pete white?

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Dear guys,

I had no idea that calling white people “white people” was considered racist. My Race-Baiting 101 professor never mentioned it and it wasn’t in the Race Hustler magazines I would keep under my mattress as a kid. Had I known, I would have never used such pornographic language. My bad!

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During any discussion of reparations, slavery, Jim Crow or any of the 400-plus years of oppressive barbarianism perpetrated by America’s most dominant race, people of no color unfailingly point out that—aside from the color of their skin—they had absolutely nothing to do with those individuals who committed these historical atrocities. But what they fail to realize is that it is impossible to separate the history of oppression in America from whiteness without telling a half-truth. And, while Caucasians do not like being called “white,” they wouldn’t trade a smidgen of their white privilege for all the equality and liberty in the world.

How do I know this? Because every single white person has had ample opportunity to do it.

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They had the opportunity to declare liberty and justice for all when they wrote the Constitution but decided to renew slavery for a few more seasons. They had the chance to disavow the notion of racial inferiority in 1860 but decided to fight the bloodiest war in American history instead. Even after the Civil War, they chose whiteness over equality. They elected officials who promised “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” They served on all-white juries and acquitted murderous lynchers who shared nothing but their whiteness. Every single vote on school funding, criminal justice, and political representation has essentially ended with white people declaring:

“Nah, I think I’mma stick this white thing out.”

White people expect to enjoy the privilege of whiteness without any of the negative connotations. Pete Buttigieg is a white man and there is nothing racist about pointing that out.

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However, I do believe you are being honest when you take umbrage with me mentioning a white person’s race or ethnicity, so I’d like to share a few screenshots with you:

Screenshot: NY Daily News
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Screenshot: NBC News
Screenshot: Washington Examiner
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Before you penned your letters condemning me for calling white people “white people,” I’m sure you wrote these outlets and accused them of racism for calling me a “black writer.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but...

If you didn’t, then you’re a lying motherfucker, too.


Also, there were people who wanted me to know how wrong I was, but first they had to let me know how not white they were:

From: Fernando
To: The Root, Pete for America

Before I tell you what I think of Michael Harriot, here are my credentials:

1) Immigrant Latino who was raised in a poor neighborhood of San Francisco in the 80s.

2) Made it out and went to college where I experienced discrimination.

3) I’m very very very gay.

Parenting does matter, parent involvement in education does matter. Many of my friends got involved in gangs others did not. My parents were not involved in my education and they never went to college. But they made sure we went to school, that was not an option or debate. They understood the importance of education.

I never heard my parents blame white people for our poverty, perhaps because we were immigrants with little understanding of the history of racism. Or perhaps because it was irrelevant at that point in time. Whatever the reason, our only option was to move forward.

Ironically, I did experience discrimination in college, but I kept moving forward with a new perspective. But always moving forward, and surrounded myself with people who were supportive, most of them happened to be white people. It was clear to me that not all people are the same.

So what is Michael Harriot going to do if Pete becomes the nominee? Will he suddenly say that we have good people on both sides? Is he going to follow evangelicals who continue to support a president who separated children from their mothers? Is he going to follow white supremacists who adore the current president?

We all have a right to criticize our presidential nominees, and we have a right to question their policies. As a latino I do not support Castro because I don’t agree with his open border approach. I don’t care if he loves tamales and beans like I do. I voted for Kamala for the Senate, but she lost me with her vague policies and switching back and forth. Booker is a very nice man, too nice for me and I want a fighter with bold policies.

All of my relatives voted for Trump for 1 reason, they agree with his immigration policies. And they are all immigrants themselves. They also prefer white men in power.

I refuse to support anybody simply because they are brown or gay. Otherwise, I would become like many voters out there who vote by skin color regardless of the substance of the candidate.

I support Warren because I agree with her bold policies. But if Pete becomes the nominee, I am prepare to support that “Lying MF” like he is Jesus. There are not “good people on both sides”.

Is Michael prepared to support Pete if he were to become the nominee?. Are black people ready to support him? If not, then Michael should shut the fuck up with his hypocrisy of searching for equality.

We can all be ghetto if we want to, but is that what we want in our president. I don’t want a president who speaks like me, I want a president who can elevate a conversation. I don’t want a president who gives a presidential address using Michaels approach or vocabulary. Otherwise, we would just be having a black president Trump.

And “ WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT”

There are not “ good people on both sides” like Trump stated after Charlottesville attack.

From: Gwydas
To: Michael Harriot

Good Morning Mr. Harriot, Before I begin, I would like to ask - please read to the end before judging.

Let’s begin: I read your article today regarding Mr. Buttigieg. It made me feel sad on a deep fundamental level, and let me tell you why. My mother is white, my father was Hispanic (he died when I was young) - so that makes me somewhere in between. I never fit in at school because I was the poor mixed kid. As a small child, my best friends were of all colors.

The first boy I kissed (in preschool) was an asian boy named Pinmen. When I was 6 my best friend was a little black boy living in the same low-income housing block as me, and my little Indian friends down the hall. We all played together and get in trouble together and no one knew that this one was white or black or asian or mexican. We just were.

In middle school I met one of my lifetime’s best friends, Tami. I called her “Bear”, that was just her name back then. She was also mixed. In her case, white and black. My mexican cousins lived in downtown and south Tucson. I lived on the northside in the good times and who knows where in the bad times. I was off and on homeless, in and out of “half-way houses” and much on the streets. I was lucky enough to get three years of high school at one school, but in my life, I went to over 13 different schools. Most of my friends were non-white and I was a self-proclaimed racist -> against white people.

I listened to NWA, E40, Bone Thugs, etc. My favorite songs to sing are by Aretha, Etta James, Tina Turner, and so on. The older I got the whiter I looked. I spent less time outdoors and my tan faded. I have some hispanic features, but they aren’t much different from a plain ol’ white person when you aren’t tan. I didn’t know about “white privilege” until I was in my 30's. So that’s my “street-cred” I guess.

Now, to my primary point - Buttigieg probably isn’t a bad guy. Sure, he got “lucky” like many politicians do to be born white and to well off families. He needs to learn more about the other side. Be real - you know that people who haven’t been there just don’t get it. Just like you and I don’t really deep down understand his world either. Being uninformed doesn’t make him a liar, or a bad guy, or whatever alot of people would like to paint him as. What you wrote in your article was uncalled for and totally taking the easy way into the fight. Just being inflammatory is not the key to fixing inequality. It never has been and will never be. Pete needs an education. He needs to be literally shown what you and I grew up with. You want equality?

You want fair? Then fight fair. Be fair. Be understanding, and call him out for his ignorance. Invite him to talk to you and others like you and show him the way. Give him the chance to be more than what he is. Pete Buttigieg is not the bad guy here. The society that decided to fight itself is. In closing, I am going to loosely quote from a book that recently came to me that has given me great insight on people and how to “win” their understanding and cooperation. “If you want to stir up resentment tomorrow that may echo across decades and endure through generations, let us indulge in stinging criticism - no matter how certain we are that it is justified. When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, bristling with emotions and motivated by pride and vanity.

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” “A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” I believe with all my heart that you mean to be good and fair, and emotion has overtaken your sense of kindness and forgiveness. Generations of being treated unfairly can do that to people. All I ask is for you to understand the other side and rather than fight - teach.

With all my love,

Angi The non-white-white-lady who believes in equality for all.

Dear Fernando and Gwydas,

Before I begin, let me tell you my credentials:

I grew up in Hartsville, S.C. The land was originally stolen from several Native American tribes and settled by Thomas Hart, whose son built a plantation with slave labor. Every spring, the town still gathers on the plantation to celebrate its noble founders. You can even get your face painted by the botanical gardens right near the slave quarters. I’ve been invited to three weddings there.

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Now the town was really built by the Cokers, slaveowners who owned a railroad, a college, a store and a factory that still exists to this day. My grandmother and grandfather worked at that factory, Sonoco, until they retired. Two white men killed my grandfather and never did a day in jail. My mother attended Coker College, which was built by slaves, by working in those white people’s homes. I ended my public school education a couple of years before Darlington County Schools, Hartville’s school district, fully desegregated. No, I’m not that old—federal authorities didn’t enforce desegregation in my hometown until 1995.

I don’t really like the Beatles but my first job was as a disc jockey at a country music station, so I know a lot of white music. I had numerous visits to the home of my friend Ben, who lived in a white neighborhood. The first girl I ever kissed was named Sophia. She was black but her name is kinda white, so I think I deserve some credit.

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What I’m trying to explain is that I know white people. From reading your negro-adjacent bios, I have far more experience dealing with white people than you do. If living in a poor neighborhood and kissing a non-white kid makes you an expert on the black experience and what is missing, then I should be awarded an honorary doctorate in white supremacy.

Now that it’s clear that my wypipology studies are more extensive than yours, I hope you are willing to concede that I know what the fuck I’m talking about when I say: “America is not better than that.”

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I don’t know why motherfuckers expect civility, patience and understanding from a country that has never shown black people a lick of any of those things. Oh, wait, I’m lying. I know why:

Because they can.

White people in America can do whatever they want. They can enslave, lynch, segregate and oppress whomever they want for as long as they damn well please. But the most unbelievable part of white supremacy is this: When someone dares point out something that is the absolute truth, their privilege has made them so untouchable that they will say—without a bit of irony or shame:

“Hey buddy, you’re not being nice.”


And then there were people who argued that Pete Buttigieg was right in his initial assessment.

From: Ben F
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Black apathy is the problem

But keep pretending that blacks need the invisible chains of white priv and imagined racism in society to see their place in it. TOTALLY not an attitude and mindset that keeps us mentally in step with your 100% victimhood ideology.

Youre a hack and the Root is like dailymail+infowars in terms of how serious people actually take it. I’m pretty sure drivel like your OP-ed just perpetuates this.

I’m not a mayor Pete fan but everything he said in the quote you blasted him for is accurate. Deal with it.

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From: Chris
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Are you a homophobic MF?

If your interested in an NPR story on how statistically kids who have a teacher who looks and relates to them (by gender and race) and not just write off everyone and calling them a MF, please read. You owe it to yourself - and the harm you are causing to a young, articulate, patriotic leader to many of us. By extension, you are calling me a MF, because I don’t understand the offense of reaching out to you to say that they have evolved and are willing to listen. Do you have the potential to evolve and listen to others? There may even be something to the correlation of you serving as an example to young people as your moms encouragement to you pursuing your gift with the spoken word.... perhaps?

From: Greg
To: Michael Harriot

Your articles reveal a deep seated racism toward whites. I suggest you read The Atlantic’s response which is on point...brother. Or, better yet, read The Philadelphia Negro and follow that wise advice from Dr. DuBois. It’s still true 120 years later! I’m damn sick and tired of reading that we don’t understand your issues. And let’s be honest bro, one of the major reasons that clown Trump got elected is because y’all didn’t come out and vote Democratic! And whites are not destroying black families because “we keep locking up all your baby dad’s.” That’s total BS! Too many black baby dads make babies and then just walk tf away! You know that’s true and I do from my local black friends. And 99 percent that are in jail deserve to be there. So read The Philadelphia Negro and learn!

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These motherfuckers are lying.

They aren’t mistaken. It’s not a “misunderstanding.” They are intentionally misrepresenting facts.

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One of the most pervasive myths is that economic inequality comes from absentee black fathers. While it is true that 67 percent of black children are born out of wedlock, that same data shows that black fathers are more present in their children’s lives than any other group. Not only do the vast majority (59.5 percent) of black fathers live with their children, but black fathers are more likely to dress, eat with and care for their children than any other demographic, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

And it is easy to blame the rise of Trump on the decline in black voter turnout and not mention the voter suppressions, the historic amount of voter purges, the unprecedented voting restriction laws that flowered after the dismantling of the voting rights act and the partisan gerrymandering that has the Supreme Court seems to not give a damn about.

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But if all of these things are not white people’s fault, then black people must be intellectually, morally and genetically inferior to white people. That is the only logical conclusion.

But wait...

  • White children from single-parent homes do better than black children from two-parent homes.
  • Boys from the poorest white families do better, on average, than black boys from the richest black families.
  • White kids use and sell more illegal drugs but black kids get arrested for drug possession three times as often.
  • Black voter turnout is actually higher than white voter turnout in the Southern states with the highest percentage of Republican voters
  • Despite what Ameshia Cross would have you believe, the college completion rate for black students in Chicago Public schools is higher than the national average.
  • A higher percentage of black women earn degrees than any other group, so even if they were single parents, education disparities can’t be attributed to a lack of role models, so Ameshia is lying too.
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So, either one can choose to believe that the effects of 400 years of institutional racism came to an abrupt halt in 1965 and the pervasive inequality in America stems from some kind of national negro hypnosis that only affects black people and the or...

Somebody’s lying.

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About the author

Michael Harriot

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