The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: We Forgot to Mention...

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: We Forgot to Mention...
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/G-O)

Today’s mailbag consists of people who called us out about our egregious errors. The writers at The Root often use statistics and facts to back up our point but, according to the emails, tweets, DMs and comments received this week, we left out a few very salient points.


Thankfully, we can correct our mistakes every Friday in our Clapback Mailbag.

I honestly don’t know if people were angry at our article about Rashida Tlaib’s comments on Detroit’s use of facial recognition technology or the data that we included in the article.

From: Greg S.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Rasheeda Talib is a racist and so are you

I read your blog about Rasheeda Talib and you left out the fact that the same research pu cited also says that black people cant tell white people apart because people generally have trouble distinguishing outside their race.

This is a lie of ommission. It proves you and your maggazine are willing to cherrypick fcats as it suits you. It is obvious that you hate whites and will use anything you can to destroy white people.

Dear Greg,

You are correct. I failed to mention that most research shows that black people have trouble telling white people apart. Because Detroit is 80 percent black, “Talib Kweli” and I both ignored the fact that black people might misidentify the 9.5 percent of whites who live in the city. We totally forgot to mention all those cases where white people are locked up on mistaken identity. I still can’t tell the difference between Kate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Claire Danes. And if I saw Dane Cook commit a crime, I’d pray that Ryan Reynolds wasn’t in the police lineup because they’re basically the same person.


In fact, black people regularly use the cross-race effect in their everyday interactions with white people. Allow me to cite a few specific case studies.

On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott was stopped by a white police officer. Because Scott probably has trouble telling white people apart, he might have assumed officer Michael Slager was one of the white police cops who disproportionately kill black citizens. Or Scott may have simply thought that Slager was one of those lying motherfuckers who manufacture evidence. But when Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in the back, made it look like Scott had attacked him and filled out a false police report, Scott turned out to be right on both counts.


...And dead.

In 2016, 57 percent of white voters cast a ballot for Trump. Studies show that those voters were motivated by racism (or, as scientists call it: “Racial resentment”). Because of this, even an esteemed wypipologist like myself has problems discerning between non-racists and bigots. So, instead of asking random individuals who they voted for, I use scientifically proven, research-based nomenclature when I refer to the large percentages of Americans who see black people as unpatriotic, untrustworthy, more threatening, lazier and less intelligent:

I call them “white people.”

But Greg, I will admit that I am jealous of white people. I don’t find anything about whiteness especially attractive but I will admit that there is one sliver of white supremacy that I particularly envy:

You get to live in an actual land of make-believe.

Unlike Tlaib or me, white people don’t have to believe in facts or logic. You get to live in a fairy-tale world where you have the option of accepting truth and evidence. Despite the fact that every single state that seceded from the Union mentioned slavery and that the creator of the Confederate flag called it the “white man’s flag,” as late as 2015, an astonishing number of white people still believed the Civil War was about “state’s rights” and only 46 percent of Southerners hold a negative view of the Confederate flag.


Black people and white people work the same number of hours per week, but one-third of white people and 42 percent of Republicans believe that racial gaps in income, housing and education are because black people don’t work as hard as whites. You get to clutch your purses and assume us to be criminals even though 95 percent of black people weren’t arrested for a crime last year.

In spite of the overwhelming legal rulings, government data and academic studies proving that financial institutions discriminate against black borrowers, most white people don’t believe it is true, according to Pew Research. That same Pew poll also shows that the majority of white Americans don’t believe blacks face discrimination in employment, voting or medical treatment.


Even with crystal clear video footage of a police officer with his arm squeezing a man’s neck, they will swear it wasn’t a chokehold—even when a chokehold expert calls it “the definition of a chokehold.” With all of the discrimination in schools, the criminal justice system, politics and society, most white people insist that America has gone far enough—or even too far—in making sure black people receive equal treatment.

Either most white people are hate-filled liars who don’t give a damn about people with black skin or they live in a segregated universe where whiteness is more important truth and facts. Perhaps this why they call it “white supremacy.”


Or maybe I just can’t tell them apart.

And now I present the Hotepiest letter we have ever received. It concerns an article about Olympian Allyson Felix and explains how the Jews run The Root, BET and apparently write all of Cardi B and Kendrick Lamar’s rap lyrics.


From: Herman B.
To: The Root
Subject: The Undeniable Facts of american Reality

Pagan Negress you pretend to support Motherhood when your cooning genocidal publication avidly supports baby-murder...

In america more than half of the Negro babies are not born but murdered. Your publication also compares opposition to sodomites — filthy abominable abusers of the human disposal system — with racism against Negroes. In so doing you devalue and trivialize and show the utmost contempt to the unparalleled suffering of Negroes throughout american history. By doing this you promote the ‘values’ of the very supremacists that you pretend to oppose.

To place condemnation or rejection of perverts who abuse the human disposal system on a par with racism — and remember the victims of racism can’t change their ethnicity/DNA — is so absurd that even ultra-liberal Negroes have been reported to go bonkers whenever such comparisons are made. Even Negro racists such as the intellectual Dr. Umar Johnson have pointed out that sodomite activity represents ‘white culture values’ and that historically no African society has ever accepted and ratified such activity. He also says the same of abortion. He claims that white culture’s heavy promotion of sodomy and abortion mainly within and or utilizing Negro populations is a white supremacist eugenics conspiracy to destroy the Negro family and eradicate the remnants of Negro influence.

The chief executive of your publication is the white man James Spanfeller the head of G/O Media Inc. It is his values — including Negro genocide via abortion etc — that you represent. You work for white man views: “without posting the jobs publicly, Spanfeller, 62, hired a stable of white men to fill executive positions overseeing nearly every facet of the company. Six of these hires were Spanfeller’s colleagues from his previous jobs at Forbes, Playboy, and Ziff Davis.” ).

Interestingly BET — both print and television — is owned by Jews (i.e white men). The anti-Catholic racist intellectual Louis Farrakhan exposed in his book The Secret Relationship Between Blacks And Jews — using Jewish sources and historians — that the Jews were the ones who brought the Negroes from Africa. That the Jews owned the slave ships and slave auctions. That the slave auctions were always closed on the Jewish sabbath - Friday noon to Saturday noon. That Jews were the leading and most vocal racists — he even quoted their disgusting racist tirades from their media publications. That some 98% of the slaves were owned by the Jews while 2% were owned by other whites. That Jews were at the top of the economic rung.

That Catholics were at the very bottom of the economic rung — right below the Negroes (this is VERY INTERESTING — and he presented actual historical economic data to prove this). The Jews owe radical reparations to the Negroes. Jewish historians have openly bragged about the dominant Jewish role in the slave trade. The Jews also own every major hip hop company and determine what lyrics they desire (which includes denigrating Negroes by using the slang form of the word Negro).

Sadly the NAACP was founded by Jews: “several rich and powerful Jews, among them prominent leaders of the U.S. Zionist movement, co-founded, led and financed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.”


Gotdammit, Herman!

You ruined my entire point about how white people are delusional!

I was just about to blast you for this letter. I was going to point out how you must be the person we have to fight when we have defeated all of the low-level Hoteps. I was just about to say that you probably believe the white man created deodorant to oppress the Asiatic black man’s natural scent because he knows white women are attracted to the odor of “knowledge of self” mixed with Egyptian musk. I planned to wager that you refer to pork as “swine,” call women “Queen” and complain how today’s women won’t submit to a true king who is starting up a very lucrative black soap and body all-natural butter startup company.


It was going to be hilarious!

Then Maiysha showed up to work wearing a custom-made t-shirt that said: “Pagan Negress,” so...


Never mind.

Finally, a lot of readers were mad about the article on Harvard’s use of white privilege in admitting athletes, donors, legacies and children of employees (ALDC).


Here is one of the letters and one Twitter DM:

From: Grant X.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Harvard

I read your article about Harvard and the study. You left out the fact that Asian-Americans and blacks are overrepresented at Harvard. If it wasn’t for affirmative action, 95 percent of black people wouldn’t be admitted.

From: Lee
To: Michael Harriot

If you’re against racism, explain why you aren’t angry at how the school excludes Asians because of their race.


Dear Lee and Grant,

I want to break down this idea of merit for you in ways that you can easily understand.


First, let’s agree that there are probably a lot of super-smart people at Harvard. I bet some of them even know that schools in majority-black districts are underfunded compared to majority-white school districts. I would imagine that the people in Harvard’s admissions department are aware that black K-12 students don’t have access to advanced courses. I’m sure they understand that the SAT is biased towards students whose parents have higher incomes and are more educated and Asian Americans have the highest median incomes and levels of educational attainment in America. Harvard might have even seen the studies that show SAT scores don’t really mean shit beyond the first year of college.

But I want to explain this using a more understandable analogy.

Imagine you were seven feet tall standing in a long line in front of a nightclub. Imagine that the nightclub owner wanted the people in line to have the best nightclub experience ever, so the owner decided to curate a nightclub crowd based on what he perceives would make a good night of dancing.


Now everyone knows that most women prefer tall men, so when the nightclub owner declares that only men over six-feet tall would be allowed to enter, should you be mad if he left you outside? After all, you’re seven feet tall!

Should you get into the nightclub based on the “merit” of your height alone? But what if you can’t dance? What if you didn’t drink and he wants people who spend money at the bar? What if you’re ugly?


No college is concerned with admitting the highest test-scorers. Their goal is to curate a learning environment that ensures future success. Some colleges have rightfully determined that a diverse student body is part of this metric, so you should dismiss the notion that white people get to define “merit” based on the areas in which they excel. Merit is relative and has never been an objective standard.

But I would like to admit that I left something out.

Before writing the above-mentioned article, I contacted the researchers who wrote the study showing 43 percent of white people at Harvard got in through a loophole that mostly benefits white applicants. I was aware that Peter Arciadiacono, one of the researchers who authored the study, was also serving as an expert witness in a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian American students but I wondered why Arciadiacono never replied to my email. It turns out that the article was published minutes after a federal court decided that Harvard’s admission practices weren’t racist against Asian Americans.


I wanted to know three things:

  1. How do ALDC rates compare to affirmative action policies at Harvard?
  2. I know this requires conjecture, but—based on your experience and knowledge, would a black student be more likely or less likely to gain entrance to Harvard than an equally-qualified legacy?
  3. What effect do ALDC admissions have on Harvard’s student body demographics? Specifically, do they make the student body more or less racially diverse?

The day after the trial, Arciadiacono replied that the ALDC policies are more beneficial to whites than affirmative action benefits blacks because according to him: “ALDC admissions rates are much higher than admissions rates for African Americans.”

He went on to explain that blacks don’t even benefit from athletic preferences because “it is white legacies who do best on the athletic rating, followed by legacies of other races.”


The economist then revealed that Harvard’s white privilege policy prevents black students from being admitted to Harvard, writing:

Removing athletic preferences results in no change for African Americans, increases for Asian Americans and Hispanics, and a drop for whites. Removing legacy preferences increases the number of admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, with corresponding drops for whites.


To use another analogy, it’s easy to brag about winning a gold medal in a race when you’re running against someone who has a sack filled with 400 years of discrimination, economic disparities and hate strapped to their back. But you didn’t win that race based on merit. You won it because you were privileged enough not to have to carry that burden.

Still, you can’t just ignore the sack of white supremacy.

Well, I guess you can.

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



perverts who abuse the human disposal system

... Well. I certainly haven’t heard that phrase before, but now I’ve heard it many times. left out the fact that the same research pu cited also says that black people cant tell white people apart

This is a lie of ommission. It proves you and your maggazine are willing to cherrypick fcats as it suits you. It is obvious that you hate whites and will use anything you can to destroy white people.

I’m tired, man. You read the article, and got the point, but missed the point. I would say ‘everyone’ knows about the people not being able to easily discern the identity someone from another race, but that’s probably not true.

We got that. I got that. You got that. The Chinese have a hard time identifying persons that have european DNA from each other. You got it.

The thing is, though, the people that work at Google made their program to identify faces no better than their own abilities. There’s not, IDK, a ‘Black Google’ company, that’s misidentifying white people, and having LEO jack them. Their system positively identifies black people with a high confidence. And it’s not accurate! They realize they have a problem, and they’re using sketchy methods to try to fix it.

I don’t know how much more clear the article could have been. SMH

I suspect that the Chinese facial recognition system(s) probably do a terrible job identifying white people, brown people, black people, pacific islanders, native people of other regions (etc, so on). Although, it’s possible they’re aware of the same dangers you pointed out, and have worked to get a more complete data set of more types of people than just Chinese people. I don’t know, and I don’t really care that much, China is crazy like that, and America like’s to (purport at least) try not to be like that. Why we have rights, and amendments that outline further rights.

Tl;dr - you have a valid point, but missed the point of the article. Lawd, why am I even explaining this? I’m out