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

Well, hello there!

The big homie Michael Harriot is off doing Michael Harriot things, so he’s tagged me in to helm this week’s edition of the Clapback Mailbag. You’re welcome in advance.

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As someone who’s spent the past three or so years on the receiving end of death threats, vitriol and all manner of foolishness and fuckery on a weekly basis, my Black Man’s Survival Guide to the Universe consists of the following tenets:

  • Do not watch Fox News.
  • Do not eat unseasoned food.
  • Do not fall prey to white tears.
  • Do not engage trolls.

The first two are relatively simple. It’s that last one that presents a bit of a challenge.

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It means dodging emails, ignoring tweets or just laughing in people’s faces should the situation call for it. Trolls live for a reaction, and every single time I refuse to oblige, they suffer a fate worse than death. Though sadly, my reign of torment must come to end in order to provide you fine folks with the ripostes you’ve come to expect from this column.

So congratulations, trolls. Your prayers have been answered.

But I’ll keep this brief since I got shit to do. Let’s get it.


Our first email comes from Mr. David Bastille, who feels some kind of way about my penchant for “supporting racism”:

From: David Bastille
To: Jay Connor
Subject: Stop Supporting Racism

Dear Mr. Connor,

I’ll be upfront, honest, and try to still keep cordial, but I want to say first that this is a letter being written from a Caucasian male whose majority of family came over after the turn of the 1900s. I also want to point out that ive been in inter-racial relationships for almost a decade now, and in the past two years living in Atlanta, have been fired from jobs for either just being white, or accused of being racist because I am white.

I’m writing this because there is a massive flaw in the fight against racism that many people are ignoring or blatantly denying, and that’s that everyone...all skin colors...have racist tendencies. Until that is accepted, the fight will always be a failure.

Allow me to press my point of view, and I hope that as a fellow American and a journalist, you will take the time to read this and understand that it’s not as one-sided as everyone wants to play it.

First and foremost, racism is an “ism”. By definition of that, it is a humanitarian issue, much like any other discrimination issues, like age or gender. It is not an inherent trait due to someones skin color, and needs to stop being treated and presented as such. I’ve been accused of thinking of fellow co-workers as “ niggers” (apologies, but I felt it necessary in this letter to be fully open and point of fact, so you had all the facts of how and why my view is represented as such), that I “didn’t know how to cook for black people” (I’m a chef by trade. 22 years and 8 states...and because I suggested an elk burger on a menu, and not chicken wings and collard greens, I suddenly didn’t know how to cook for a whole group of people, and was told they were too ignorant to enjoy elk. Told to me by a black chef, in Atlanta), and that I didn’t respect my superiors because they were black (no, the fact that they would constantly change recipes in a dire fashion, like to suddenly include peanuts, and not inform staff, gained my disrespect. Not caring about your customers dietary requirements to the point you cooked fish on a beef grease-laden grill...for a pescatarian...gained my disrespect). There are a massive amount of times I’m being told what my thoughts are, based on my skin color. That is racism, performed on a white person, by black people.

Before I go farther, I want to say that I’m not comparing the amount of one crime to another. That would be ignorant, but it’s also ignorant to pretend that racism is an issue that is inherent to one side. Two wrongs don’t create a right. Some black people can, and often are, racist, just as some Arabics are, Indians, Asians, etc.

This idea that the only racism out there is the one based on systematic racism, and therefore only a trait of white people needs to be vanquished because this isn’t just a huge dragon in this war, but also a false shield that many people hide behind. I ask you to research the history of systematic racism and learn about the three people that were behind the push of it in the US. It might surprise you, and many, many others, that this particular view was pushed by three white professors trying to get grants for work from the NCAAP. It is also a thought process and term that disavow the existence of almost any other form of racism, and have allowed there to be a divide in the mindset of popular culture between discrimination and racism. Its actually been stated that black people can’t be racism, because of this. That’s a huge and profoundly ridiculous lie that is being told. Discrimination of other races IS racism, because it’s exactly that...discrimination against someone due to their skin color. Its impossible to realistically and factually separate the two, but it often is because racism is being viewed as one particular. There are many branches to racism: social, individual, institutional/systematic, economic, etc, but everyone seems to focus on one branch, and one branch alone. How blind are we to the tree and the root of the problems, if all we do is focus on one branch? For any true ground on the fight against racism to happen, everyone needs to come to terms that racism is everywhere, amongst everyone, and it’s not an inherent trait of someone’s skin color, but can be expressed and performed by anyone.

A second point needs to be made. Many black Americans are expressing this “well, now you get to experience how it feels” mentality when they accept that there is racism against Caucasian/white people. This is a horrid mentality that is growing in abundance. Instead of horror at the crime being committed at all, it’s almost applauded and encouraged. This is akin to someone killing someone else, because one of their loved ones was murdered, or worse, a rape victim applauding the rape of someone, because “now you know how it feels, huh?” Have we become so animalistic and inhumane that instead of revulsion of an affront, we applaud it? Encourage it? Defend it?

If a Latin American went into a predominantly white area...lets say Lakeside Mall in a suburb about 30 minutes north of Detroit....and shoots 40 white people he/she has targeted, I choose that Mall particularly because ive gone to it regularly for a decade. I know the majority of the customers there are Caucasians. Is that heinous act to be applauded and justified because the reverse happened in El Paso? Should the rape of a white female, by an African American male (hypothetically speaking of this situation), be applauded and justified because a white person from 100+ years ago, or since, raped a black female? Is that to be his defense? Or should we be looking at the crime committed, add the reason of discrimination or targeting because of the race of the victim, and proceed that way? What should be done? What should be the justified and progressive thing to do?

I’m not asking these things to mock you, or if you choose to use any of these points, to mock any of your readers/listeners. I am challenging them to an answer, an answer to be brought to the public, because I hope that maybe if the answers are what I believe they are, then maybe more people will publically acknowledge this false shield, this false pop culture groomed ideal, and face the truth, and then maybe we can make actual headway.

I’m not the enemy because I was born Caucasian. Being born with this skin color doesn’t automatically mean my ancestors had slaves, participated in the holocaust, or any other racial travesty, no more then you being black guarantees that your family were part of the slave trade. They could have been immigrants from African in the last 30 years, and you were brought over by them as a child. I don’t know that, personally, but it would be wrong of me to look at you, Mr. Connors, and just assume that your grandfather or great grandfather were automatically slaves, would it not? That your family history could have no other outcome, simply based on your skin color? Being born black doesn’t automatically make you a rapper, a sports star, or the descendants of slaves, no more then my being born white guarantees me wealth, property, and an easy ride in life, because I guarantee you, Mr. Connors, in this day and age, it definitely has not done that. Instead, I’m automatically judged as the enemy, a racist, well off, white man that is either hunting for a trophy relationship, or a situation I can exploit.

I hope that some of what I said here, and I am cutting this short due to many people’s abhorrence of long emails, does maybe make it into one of your articles, in a good light. I hope that maybe someone besides you and I will read this, many people, and maybe things can start to change. I do hope that, but I know it will take much, much more than me. Despite the reality of it, how I know this will be read and possibly taken with a “ Can you believe this white male explaining racism to me?” ( btw, if that’s gone through your mind, I ask you to pause...take a deep breath, relax, push that from your mind, and reread this again), I can hope that change can come from this, for someone. One step at a time, little by little. Eventually, we all can get there, to the end of the fight, but not if everyone doesn’t accept the truth, and puts all cards on the table.

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Fam, this email was long as hell. If you cook like you talk, I would’ve left the restaurant and gave you a one-star Yelp review three hours ago.

I think your biggest issue is your inability to differentiate between prejudice and racism. Black people can absolutely be prejudiced, as evidenced by my aversion to Kentucky Fried Chicken and ugly feet. But what we don’t have the power to be, is racist. We can make you uncomfortable or inconvenienced, but have we spent hundreds of years putting an inescapable infrastructure in place to ruin your life for our benefit? Ummm, nah. That’s white people shit.

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If you don’t like how you’re being spoken to or treated, you can always find refuge elsewhere. Where exactly is my black ass supposed to go in order to escape inequities in criminal justice, education, income, healthcare, housing, and a bunch of other shit?

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Also, I don’t know anyone who would attempt to “justify or applaud” a mass shooting in which 40 white people were killed by a black dude, but I do know white men continue to protect, inspire or encourage other white men as the mass murders they commit become more and more commonplace. I also know that if it was black men doing the exact same thing, this country would’ve experienced sweeping gun reform years ago.

You also stated that you aren’t the enemy because you’re white, but completely ignore the countless atrocities that have been committed against people of color in general, and black folks specifically, all while our loving “allies” stood idly by. So if we can’t tell a white friend from a white foe, in part because the same people who aren’t racist aren’t doing jack shit to stop racism, you’d understand that our paranoia is entirely justified and that black people really aren’t in a position to give any white person the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. So if you aren’t our enemy, allow your actions to convey your character by thwarting those who are instead of sending me long-ass emails.

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Next up is Johnny McIvor, who believes I’m buying into the premise of white supremacy.

From: Johnny McIvor
To: Jay Connor
Subject: Buying into the Premise of White Supremacy

when you make all of these arguments about white privilege and black achievement and all of this sociological stuff, or, you know, pointing to examples of white people being bad, what you’re actually doing is buying into the premise of white supremacy

asians and jews have better life outcomes than whites. jews in particular, have “got it made,” they are the most overrepresented and influential group of people in history. to say that this wealth or power or influence which is very plainly well documented, is the result of some kind of parasitic subversion — do i have to state the obvious?

if what racists, say about black people is true, what does this actually mean? if black people literally just are more criminal and less intelligent and less able in a modern economy, what is that supposed to mean? why is it that you must prove that you are “just as good” as the whites but not the asians or the jews, who would completely dunk on you if comparisons were ever made.

white people made the modern economy. they made the “progress” we all refer to — science technology, medicine, infrastructure, etc, and yes the world was basically stagnant before the explosion of white civilization. but all this stuff isn’t some sort of universal, all-powerful “truth” or “light” being carried off into the future, no that’s just convenience. civilization is just “convenience,” it’s not some sort of all-knowing, all-important theory of humanity, it’s just a bunch of former chimps who figured out how to get more bananas.

“white supremacy” is just the opinion of some whites who looked at inconvenient, primitive societies, thought they sucked, and then thought they were better because of it. then when the other groups moved into this softer, more convenient green, they were embarrassed that they didn’t make it and showed evidence of this lacking. then a bunch of white people told them stories about how put upon they were, and gave them all the anecdotes and personal accounts necessary to make them feel better

and so you get black kids growing up with the premise of white supremacy. constantly asserting that they’re really europeans with brown skin. you are african, not white, and you should not base your identity off of the failed interactions and “struggles” between them and whites

before 1100 the average european was around 2 to 3 times more violent than the average african today. those stories you’ve probably heard about barbarians were probably true. all the white people in the north sea zone did was simply kill their worst criminals, resulting in a de-facto eugenics program that removed the top 1% of violent offenders each generation. this is much more effective than a massive extermination program because you’re removing the greatest concentration of genes that lead to violent behavior. around this time, the feudal arrangement caused an imbalance where the upper classes began outnumbering and replacing the lower classes very slowly, and by 1500, crime rates finally collapsed, feudalism began to wane in favor of specialization, and the “modern world” began. a similar phenomenon can be seen in asia: when white culture is introduced into the stagnant, rigid, asian economy it explodes, because they have very high intellects and abilities. as asian countries like china and japan revert inwards as they are now, you see how their economies stagnate and the fire dies.

africans today, those without contact to western ideas, they look at the white people and say that they are just clever, good for them. that is how i look at asians and jews, good for them and their high iqs. there’s a lot of things that black people have going for them and they should focus on that. black people have higher levels of self esteem, lower levels of stress, a FAR lower suicide rate, and basically created most modern music genres. black people are laid back and unconcerned; that is their character, it is as predictable as that of the whites. Go to where blacks feel confident and base your identity off of that, this racism stuff is just a lie that well meaning people say at this place and time and history because the alternative is, well you’re inferior. there are more than two theories of race; how about instead of “equal” or “inferior” you’re just “different.”

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What the hell did I just read?

I don’t “buy” into the premise of anything. I present factual evidence to affirm the existence of white supremacy and educate our readers on both its perils and various manifestations so that they can be informed and we can collectively address these issues accordingly.

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That’s quite literally what The Root pays me to do.

As for the rest of this email, I read it three times and still have no idea what point it is you’re trying to make, so I’ll just scratch my head and go on about my day.

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Next!


For our last one, we have Steven Tiler. Not to be mistaken for the frontman of Aerosmith. I think.

From: Steven Tiler
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Your Country?😂😂😂

The United States would do just fine without you and the rest of the welfare class. You don’t have a functioning nation, city or neighbourhood anywhere on earth. No one alive here owes you a thing. It’s not going to end well for you. You IQ if 55 is showing😂

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Oh, you’re one of those guys.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but actually, the United States wouldn’t be just fine without us or “the welfare class.” In case you missed the memo, black folks quite literally built this whole damn country—but only after it was stolen from indigenous people.

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You think America evolved into the second biggest industrial power in the world from Betsy Ross sewing flags? No, sir. That was slavery. Specifically, America using its largest financial asset—$3.5 billion worth of black bodies—to churn out cotton, the world’s largest commodity. You’re welcome.

We also built railroads, buildings, monuments and a bunch of other shit you can read all about below, including Donald Trump’s crib.

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Of additional note, you sound stupid as shit saying we don’t have a functioning nation anywhere on Earth. But guess what? We’d have more than a few cities here in Trump’s America if evil ass white people didn’t keep destroying them every time they were built. Dammit, there I go being racist again.

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And for all our free labor, generational trauma, stolen concepts, land and ideas, defamation and whatever the hell else I decide to add to this reparations invoice, you owe us plenty. Hell, let me throw a Popeye’s chicken sandwich on there, too.

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But one thing you might be right about is it not ending well for us. History has proven time and time again that racism remains undefeated. But thankfully, I’m apparently a racist too. So combine that with our mutant powers of adequate seasoning, graceful aging and resilience, I’m liking our odds.