The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: Thots and Prayers

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


Time for your weekly edition of the Clapback Mailbag. Got something on your mind? Email the bag of fun.

*Editor’s note: Michael, this sounds vaguely familiar. Are you sure you wrote this?

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**Writer’s note: Don’t worry, nothing like this exists on the internet. Trust me.


We might as well go ahead and get this shit out of the way.

This week, I wrote this:

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Then, this happened: 

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Dear Sarah,

May I call you Sarah?

It hurts, doesn’t it?

I can’t fathom how it must feel to walk around every day as the only human being on earth who is subjected to scorn from people who you have never offended. The public ridicule must be unbearable. As a black man in America, being marginalized, called a threat to the safety of others and having people to not want you in their school is something I could never imagine.

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Hold on, let me try for a second.

Nope. I still can’t feel it.

Anyway, I would like to congratulate you on that thing you did with your black friend Reggie. It warms my heart that you have fought so hard for the negro. When police brutality is eliminated, I’m sure it will be because of the outstanding conference-organizing movement that you participated in that one time.

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Now I feel bad for trying to “cyber bully a civil rights activist.”

I had no idea!

However, I would like you to know that I definitely do not side with the cops on this one. I am all for police transparency. I think I speak for Blavity, the Daily Dot and every other black media outlet in America when I tell you: I pray to White Jesus that the Yale Police Department releases the video footage of you calling the police.

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Not that I believe in white Jesus...

Or police departments...

Or teary-eyed white women.

I also want to tell you a story.

One day, at the beginning of the year, the entire staff at The Root had a conversation about covering “____ while black” incidents. A few people on the staff suggested that we should stop giving people who call the cops funny names and making jokes about them. It wasn’t because they wanted to spare the feelings of the cop-calling community. They simply felt as if we were making light of a serious situation. Random white people calling the cops on black people has resulted in numerous deaths—most recently, Dana Fletcher, who was killed in front of his wife and daughter less than two weeks ago. Some of The Root’s staff thought that we should treat incidents of wypipo police summoning with the seriousness it deserves.

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I disagreed.

Unlike you, I am not a “punishment abolitionist” (whatever the fuck that means). I believe you should reap the same fear and humiliation that you sow. I believe that every fuckshit action deserves an equal and opposite reaction of commensurate fuckshittery. I believe in reciprocity. Getback. Justice.

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If, on that day, Lolade Siyonbola had awakened in a startled state and was shot by one of those cops, the police officer would not have been held accountable, nor would you have been charged. No one ever pays the price for what people like you do on a whim of anxiety or apprehension except for the dead, black, bullet-riddled bodies of formerly-alive black people.

I honestly wish I was a talented enough writer that my words truly sparked actual moral outrage or rounded up a real mob.

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Believe me, I’ve tried.

But those motherfuckers keep killing us.

So, because I don’t have the time, opportunity or inclination to help the world by coordinating panel discussions about how smarmy, self-righteous swamptwats feel entitled enough to sic gun-wielding, justice-resistant nigger-murders on napping black women, I do my part by fucking with hefty bags of white privilege like you.

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You see, Sarah, shame is a beautiful thing.

And no, this is not moral outrage. I ain’t even mad at you. Aside from Lolade Siyonbola, no one was probably “outraged” by what you did. I’m just doing the same thing you did as a “civil rights activist”—fighting back.

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And finally, since you wondered what I would do if people like you didn’t exist, the answer, Sarah, is quite simple:

I would be free.


We did two articles on rapper and polysyllabic sayer of things, T.I.:

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To: Michael
From: Sparky

I knew I could count on y’all to jot down you’re liberal thinkpiece on T.I.

How TF is virginity a social constrict? Your actually doing a disservice to girls making them think that being a thot is ok. We need more queens less hoes and scallywags. Is this what you tell your daughter

Y’all feminist agenda is tearing the community apart.


Sent from my iPhone

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Dear Sparky,

Thank you for inspiring me.

Every Friday, when I start working on the Clapback Mailbag, I try to come up with a theme for the week. One day, I’m going to do an entire mailbag where the audience has to guess if the person who wrote the email is racist or Hotep.

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When I first read your DMs, I thought you were a racist pretending to be black. However, I quickly concluded that you are, indeed, a negromaniac. “Scallywag” gave it away. White people don’t use “scallywag” anymore.

I didn’t quite understand what you meant by virginity being a social construct until I reread both articles and saw this tweet:

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I must admit, I don’t know much about virginity or hymens, but I just happened to be sort of an expert at social constructs. When teaching about race and economics, one of the first things I would do is make the students learn the definition of a social construct—“an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society.”

When I would tell them that money is a social construct because we have mutually agreed on the assigned value of the paper, there would invariably be one self-educated person who would try to dazzle the class with his knowledge of the Federal Reserve and explain why we should go back to the gold standard. I would always let them finish and then ask an important question:

Why gold?

A scientist would explain that gold doesn’t corrode, is malleable and it melts easily. An economist would attribute the value of gold to its scarcity. But palladium is rarer and copper is more useful. The reason gold has been seen as valuable throughout history is even more stupid.

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Some people think it’s pretty.

Centuries ago, Africans would regularly exchange salt for gold because salt actually has value. A human body can’t survive without sodium.

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What is virginity? Is a person still a virgin if they have oral sex? Anal? What about masturbation? What if a woman has never had sex but is artificially inseminated and has a child? Are they a virgin?

And that’s why virginity is a social construct. It doesn’t actually mean anything aside from the value we assign it.

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But here’s the thing, Sparky: Guess who gets to dictate these social values?

The motherfuckers with the whips.

They motherfuckers with the most gold were the ones who took it from the gold miners. The same goes for diamonds, money and everything that we think is valuable. There is nothing inherently valuable about a hymen except that men have constructed a society where they can make women’s body parts a rare commodity that is theirs for the taking.

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I don’t even have to get into parenting, psychology sexual politics to explain why, in 2019, everything you said is stupid. When I brought it up at the plenary session to update the feminist agenda, everyone cackled while wagging their scallies.

They took it with a grain of salt.


Finally, Pastor Mark Burns of Kappa Alpha Sigh recently commanded Politics Editor Jason Johnson to pray for Donald Trump.

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Luckily, I have a prayer:

O, all-powerful and omnipotent invisible thing:

Today I come to you, a ripped remnant of flesh, still dripping with the blood of the thing that devoured me.

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Yet it still chews.

I imagine that you are a busy being, beset on all sides by pleas of forgiveness from the men who have chomped at the bits of black bodies and then asked for absolution by calling the mainline and telling white Jesus what they want. And here are we, a tiny, insignificant hunk of a huddled mass still yearning to breathe free, gasping for enough breath to whisper a request, hoping that it will be heard in heaven. If there is anything good and righteous in this world, may this invocation slip through a slit in the Pearly Gates and find itself fluttering to the footstool of the throne on which you sit.

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O Lord, hear our prayer!

We do not come asking for silver and gold. We are not here begging for a miracle of miracles. When you open up the windows of heavens and pour down your blessings we are requesting the one thing:

Proof.

O, gracious, hostile host of hosts!

We, more than any of your children, have awaited your powerful swift sword. We have fought the fight and kept the faith. We believe in your existence. And if you exist, then justice must be real. And if justice is real, we are just asking you to rain down a tiny sprinkle on us. A droplet. A mist.

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Please?

We choose Donald Trump.

We, like you, are longsuffering and abundant in mercy. Because we are a kind and loving people we would never require that you smite him the way walloped us with injustice and oppression. We do not ask for ourselves, or for this world. We request your authority because, well...We don’t want our waiting to be in vain. We need to know that we haven’t been bamboozled.

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Do what you said you would do! 

Visit your iniquity upon his third and fourth generation. Whet your glittering sword. Render vengeance. Make your arrows drunk with blood.

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Fuck. Him. Up. God.

O, unyielding, unmerciful phantasm.

This is not a prayer of anger or hate. It is a prayer of hope. Of faith. For so long, we, your dutiful servants, have sat on the same hands we stretch towards the sun begging for your son’s blessing. We want to believe that you have not sat idly on your thone and watched them stomp our skulls. We want to trust that you have not delighted in the dragging that we have endured in your name. For every throat they slice and every neck they noose, it seems as if they are the ones who you reward.

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Prove us wrong.

Please?

We know you are able. We have seen your work. Your bloody fingerprints are embedded in this neverending nigger pain.

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Oh ye omnipotent, sacred, savage ghost, let us see your wondrous works or, at long last...

Let my people go.

Please?

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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.