The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: O Come, All Ye Racists

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: O Come, All Ye Racists
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/G-O)
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 Song”:

Nikes roasting on an open fire
Pete Buttigieg lying through his nose
Jonas Brothers singing Earth Wing & Fire
White people in plantation wedding photos

Everybody knows, that phone call to Ukraine was bad
And what they did to Kaepernick ain’t right
But white people are spitting mad
Because a MAGA jaw got broken in a fight.

They know impeachment’s on the way
So white people write us every day
About how we’re the racist ones
Just because we explain why they are so dumb.

And so, we came up with this simple way
To answer emails, tweets and DMs, too.
The n-word’s been spelled many times many ways
They get mad whenever we tell the truth.

And all the racists are gonna cry
In the Mailbag, but we know why
They leak buckets of white tears
Because they know white privilege is gonna disappear.

And so, I’m offering this simple phrase
to racists from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said, many times, many ways
Eat a dick, man
Stop talking shit, fam
You’re evil pricks, and...


The article on going to work the day after impeachment may have produced the largest variety of “not all white people” responses ever.


From: Jan
To: Michael Harriot

I am a white person who voted for Trump and I don’t have a racist bone in my body. In thatlink 8% of blacks voted for Trump. Why You never mention them at all? I don’t discuss politics at work and my district manager is a black guy who got the job over me because they needed to feel thier diversity requirements.

I read the transcript and I dont see anything that makes me want to remove a president from office against the will of the ppl. Kinda flies in the face of everything you wrote, huh?

Keep America Great


Dear sirs and Jan,

Every time I write an article I am perplexed why anyone would think I mean “all” white people. Usually, I scan through the article to see if I mistakenly placed the word “all” next to the phrase “white people” and breathe a sigh of relief when I realize that I didn’t.

Jan, you’re right. There were black people who voted for Trump. According to Pew Research, 88 percent of the people who voted for Trump were white and only 2 percent where black. So, to explain why I only refer to white people when talking about Trump voters, I offer this analogy:

Imagine tonight, just before you went to sleep, federal agents knocked on your door and told you that they had uncovered a plot that contained credible evidence that someone was going to kill you by slipping a tasteless, odorless poison into your drink. This worries you because you have a rare condition that requires you to drink water every hour.


The agents didn’t know when the poisoning would happen or who this person was. They only thing they know about your potential killer is that they voted for Trump and they are going to be working close to you.

So, the next day, you go to work and your boss announces a new policy. From now on, workers won’t be able to fix their own drinks—not even water. Luckily, the company hired a 10-man team of drink-fetchers who will bring you anything you want to drink.


He introduces the hydration team and nine of them are white. There is one black guy.

Now, you have no idea if your killer is one of these people, but if even if your Trump-supporting killer is among them, you have to drink their water. Luckily, you get to choose who brings you your drink.


Whose water do you drink?

You’re probably expecting me to say something like: “Black people have to make this choice every day,” but I’m not. This harrowing parable doesn’t explain why black people don’t trust white people. It illustrates an entirely different point altogether.


The point of this parable is white privilege.

Imagine if the people who knocked on your door that night were the killers. Image if the boss of the forewarners hated people who looked like you. What if there was documented and historical evidence that they couldn’t be trusted?


Black people and white people are fully aware that there is a man in the White House who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for us. There is absolutely no question about that. We also know the history of COINTELPRO, voter suppression, criminal injustice, educational disparities and so much more. White people know it, too. They can see the evidence of America’s animus. Yet, they do nothing. Even the ones who aren’t in cahoots are complicit in their silence.

In this particular case, I actually mean all white people.

Not every incidence of discrimination is life-threatening or soul-crushing. But nearly every black person on earth has experienced racism on some level. And yes, it is true that most white people haven’t intentionally committed an outright act of hate. But you know what else nearly every black person has never experienced?


Most of us have never experienced a white person stepping up or speaking out when they see a racist act. They have never seen a white person risk their job, relationship or comfort for someone with black skin. There are a lot of white people who own Black Lives Matter bumper stickers who are more than willing to sit by when they hear a friend or relative make a racist remark.

Unlike you, we don’t get the same kind of protection. This country ignores white supremacy. Forget Nazis, white domestic terrorists and right-wing extremists. This country doesn’t even attempt to fight institutional inequality like it tries to protect religious freedom, gun rights or the freedom of speech.


Black people don’t think every white person is racist. We just don’t know which ones are slipping something into our water. Part of the reason we have no clue is that the white people who know still won’t say shit. But the worst part of it all is this:

We have no choice but to drink the poison.

A lot of people were upset over this article about Colby Covington’s jaw:

From: Joe P.
To: Michael Harriot

Your article about Covington losing the right is a clear case of Trump derrangement síndrome. You are bringing politics to the sport that has nothing to do with politics. As a Brazilian, he offended our people by calling everyone pigs. I took that as his way to show off and get everyone pissed off and watch him get beaten. Same with McGregor. It’s all about audience and money. But you sir, decided to make this fight into a platform to vent your disdain for the president. With that you are distilling hatred and bigotry. If that’s your objective than you did it. Congratulations for bringing politics where it doesn’t belong.

From: Brady
To: Michael Harriot

Honestly just wondering how you can have so much hatred in this article.

First off, you do not even follow UFC and have no right to call the fan base xenophobic. Second, you have zero knowledge of any of that situation besides listening to what the black community is telling you to say.

Which refers to you making it seem like a race thing just because Colby supports OUR president. Colby is a patriotic mane who loves our country, and yet you take it to the extent of dropping subtle details about politics in an article that is blown out of proportion. Maybe if you would dive deep into some research about the details behind the ufc event, you would see that there are words being twisted, to boost popularity and look to gain viewers. Overall, your article contained an absurd amount of and unnecessary comments because the opposing fighter is a black man, which leads you to think that it’s a big race war. It’s a professional fight. Don’t publish bullshit until you get a good grasp on the situation, like a skilled writer should do.


Dear Brady and Joe,

I want to apologize.

I knew this post would make white people mad. However, I want to let you know that this article had nothing to do with racism, fighting or even sports. I wrote it in a desperate attempt to highlight a learning disability shared by many people in the white community.


I have come to understand that many white people suffer from a learning disability called “whitelexia.” It’s kinda like dyslexia but it is by white people who see words, statements or inferences that don’t exist.

Take the previous group of people in today’s mailbag, for instance. They saw an “all white people” where it didn’t exist. Likewise, Brady insists that I disparaged the UFC fanbase because I said Usman won, “much to the dismay of xenophobic Ultimate Fighting Championship fans.”


I don’t think UFC fans are xenophobic but if I said that I get emails from “dummies named Brady,” it wouldn’t mean that I think all Bradys are dumb. Just you. I’d also like to point out that I did not disparage Donald Trump, talk about politics, or say this had anything to do with race except pointing out the actual quotes by Covington. In fact, if Colby Covington hadn’t repeatedly mentioned Donald Trump’s name or wore a MAGA clown suit to the fight, no one would have mentioned y’all’s president.

I only wish that I get the credit I deserve by highlighting this important illness and hope that these men get the help they deserve.


Like Colby Covington’s MAGA jaw.

I don’t know what these posts are about but they illustrate the dire circumstances white people have to face every day.

From: Jerrold Anderson
To: Michael Harriot

Pretty humorous that you viciously attacked Pete Buttigieg for parroting one of the most common rationales for affirmative action - getting “people of color” into colleges, professional schools, charitable boards, corporate boards, etc. - to create “role models.” I happen to support many of those efforts - but it’s time to stop pretending they don’t exist - and conceding that it’s now a major advantage to have an ethnicity other than “white” on your application.

And don’t hit me with the “white privilege” bullshit - while most truly privileged Americans are indeed white - most white Americans aren’t privileged relative to their similarly qualified peers of color in 2019. There isn’t an institution of power of any regard in America today that isn’t obsessed with “diversity and inclusion” - the problem is thanks to waves of immigration from Africa, Asia and Latin America - these institutions can check off their diversity boxes, by selecting Hondurans, Indians, Pakistanis, Nigerians, etc. - thus leaving the actual primary victims of American historical (and yes ongoing) racism - the Africans who arrived in the cargo holds of ships - not on jet airplanes - as outsiders yet again. I get why you’re so angry - but rage never persuaded anyone to change their views on anything.


From: Audrey
To: Michael Harriot

You should truly be ashamed of yourself for the endless race-baiting posts that you’re so proud of. You are truly the problem behind racism in this country.

You prod the coals in the fire to keep the victim-mentality alive within minorities. I grew up in an area where I was the minority as a white female. I couldn’t apply to scholarships because the color of my skin didn’t allow it. I applied for jobs at career fairs knowing I had no chance because they stated indian-preference. Shame on you for only contributing negativity and adding to hate in the world. You are in a position to make a difference and promote positivity. Think about that next time you sit down to spit your hate at others with different colored skin.


Dear Jerrold and Audrey,

You know what? I think you’re right. I think we should have an affirmative action program for white people. In fact, I took the liberty of creating my own affirmative action program. My program would be used in schools, employment, the criminal justice system and everywhere else. It’s called the Plan for Equity and Caucasian Equality (PEACE).


Starting tomorrow everyone in America will be homeless for a day.

Every town and county will take the deed and title to every home and put it in a lottery. Families will be randomly assigned homes, making homeownership (the largest determinant of wealth in America) equal for all. Now, some may think this is unfair but I would argue that it is unfair that black homes are, on average, valued at $48,000 less than identical homes in white neighborhoods just because white people don’t want to live around black people.


Of course, this would affect schooling in America, too. School funding wouldn’t be based on home values, which means schools in black neighborhoods wouldn’t suffer because there’d be no more black neighborhoods. The deeds to these homes would come with automatic voter registration, virtually eliminating voter suppression.

While we are redistributing homes, everyone in America would be taking a skills assessment test that would randomly assign jobs according to experience, education, and ability. I know, I know: A lot of black people might suffer because of institutional equality and affirmative action. But I contend that a shitload of privileged, mediocre white people would be knocked down a notch because of the advantages they received from connections and implicit bias.


The politicians who lose their jobs would all be up for election. But their war chests would be emptied and their skills assessment tests would appear beside their names on the ballot. The elections would take place over the course of seven days with 24-hour polling places.

Colleges would still exist and there would be no affirmative action. But everyone would have to re-apply and there would be no loopholes or preferential treatment for donors kids or people with connections. Also, the kids who can’t afford to pay for college would get to go to school for free.


How would I pay for that?

Here’s the best part: Reparations.

We would seize the savings of everyone in America redistribute it according to the skills assessment results of the youngest person in the household (because the oldest people would still be tainted with the historical advantages and disadvantages of white supremacy). But first, every American would receive $1,000,000 for each generation of their family that has lived in America. This would make black people financially equal to the white people who benefitted from slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, etc.


Now, this plan would not cure racism or eliminate white supremacy but it would be a reset. White people would still hold the same biases and black people would still be the minority in America. And whites would still hold some advantages because of their sheer numbers.

But I’d wager that, over time, we’d slowly realize that white people were not smarter, more talented or more hardworking. We’d see that black people were not more violent or lazy. We’d finally understand that white supremacy is a virus that’s encoded in this country’s operating system. But there is a simple way to fix this problem:


We need to unplug America and plug it back in.


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

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“I am a white person who voted for Trump and I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”