The Root's Clapback Mailbag: A Visit From St. Clapback

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: A Visit From St. Clapback
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/FMG)

Twas the Friday before Christmas, when all through the site
Not a creature was angry, except for the whites
The mailbag was filled with Caucasians seeing red
About words we had written and stuff that we said


When in my inbox there arose such a clatter
I logged in to my email to see what was the matter
It turns out that white people were really hurt this week
So they composed a lot of emails and sent me some tweets

A man was detained when a bank teller called the cops
And replies to the story really filled up my inbox
But it wasn’t the fact that he was trying to cash his check
It was the insults to white people that made them upset

You’re RACIST! You HATE WHITE PEOPLE! Your jokes made me MAD!
How dare you insult Maroon 5 if you’re just as bad?’
They filled up the grays and sent me DMs on Twitter
Some demanded an apology, others just called me “nigger”

Their grammar, how it stank! Their words were misspelled!
They said: “You’re words were just mean” and “your going to hell!”
But it was par for the course; It didn’t even make me sad
It just let me know it was time for the mailbag

So I ran to the computer and holding back laughter
I read through the comments and started to answer
And you could hear me exclaim as I typed really fast:
Merry Christmas to you all! Please enjoy these clapbacks!

These first three correspondences are in regards to the article on Maroon 5 playing the Super Bowl.


Apparently, there are a lot of white people who like Maroon 5. I had no idea!

From: William W.
To: Michael Harriot

Mr. Harriot:

I recently read an article you wrote that I found to be completely at odds with the message you were expressing. First I dont care about the NFL or Maroon 5. I do care about the responsibilities we have when we choose to share our opinion with the world especially when that message could either bring us together or tear us apart. Really??? Maroon 5 is? “let me find the qoute: Why would the Fenty mogul give that up to play sidekick to a Cloroxed version of Mint Condition?”

So now as humans who should be ignoring race and judging people based on content of character especially if you know how it feels to be judged by your race are lowering yourself and your readers to statements of racism strewn throughout your article such as Cloroxed versions of. Well I believe you have every right to say these things but if you truly are looking for a world where the majority of humans treat each other in a manner that uplifts us all than I would consider starting by being that person . I would remove the word race or any version of it from tour vocabulary and if you have a need to identify people do it by there name. If you want to or have to write an article on the NFL or racist artist who won’t play with white people than you should be more honest and fearless and do so. What you wrote was neither honest or fearless on the contrary. Thank you and sorry for any grammatical errors not my forte.

Sincerely, William

From: Rev. Kermitz Fitzhume
To: Michael Harriot

Your a racist, big lipped black son of a bitch. you people need to be placed back in chains to shut your big flapping lips,you people were given a chance of a lifetime when we removed your chains, but we quickly realized that you people need to be hand feed and taken care of because you people can’t live on your own, you people are like little niggar puppies and you people can’t be trained for anything other than tap dancing or maybe a few tricks,you people will one day be placed back in bondage,god bless.

rev.Kermit Fitzhume CEO and founder of anti niggar inc and author of the best seller book titled YOU PEOPLE. and author of black lives don’t, want and never will matter,

may god bless thee for none of us will.

From: AliHastings
To: Michael Harriot

Why all the white bigotry in your stories? You do realize those are extremely offensive and might I add in very bad taste. Not all white people are racists, even those who support Trump


You know what, guys?

I think I may have gone too far with the white jokes this time. In fact, I’d like to offer my sincere apologies by sharing a funny story with you.


Once upon a time, there was a slave. Or maybe there were 10,000 slaves. Or maybe there were 1.3 million slaves. Or 1o to 12 million slaves between 1555 and 1860. There’s really no way of knowing, because people didn’t really keep records of the human chattel they murdered and tortured. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. In this story, all 12 million slaves will be symbolized by one slave named Toby.

Toby ate a lot of fried chicken and was caught stealing watermelons. And Toby had diabetes. And Toby was violent and thuggish so people sometimes joked about it.


Now the reason Toby had diabetes was that his slavemasters fed him a diet that didn’t allow his pancreas to correctly process insulin. He fried things because he typically didn’t have an oven or a stove so he would just heat rendered fat and eat whatever meat he could find. And watermelon was his only source of many essential vitamins found in fresh fruit.

And Toby hid his intelligence because he knew it was threatening and he was violent because... well... his slave masters taught him to beat anything that didn’t make him happy. His society taught him that he could steal. After all, he was stolen. His country taught him that his life was meaningless, so why would he assign value to anyone else’s?


But they made jokes about him liking fried chicken, his watermelon-eating, his stupidity, his diabetes and... You know what? This story isn’t really funny. Let me try another one.

Once there was a man named Jerome... Or Rosetta Tharpe... Robert Johnson. or Melle Mel. Or, let’s just go with Jerome.


And Jerome could sing. And Jerome could dance. And Jerome could paint. And Jerome was funny. No one knew Jerome because someone stole all of Jerome’s talents and gave it to a white man... or woman. Maybe his name was Elvis... or The Rolling Stones... or Madonna, or... you know what? This isn’t really funny. Let’s try another one.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Keisha. Keisha had a big ol’ booty and she twerked all the time. And Keisha was ghetto. Keisha talked loud. Keisha got in fights all the time because Keisha was an angry black woman. She wore long nails and wore a lot of weave, but Keisha was funny!


Now the reason Keisha twerked was that her body had been fetishized and objectified since she was human property. And she talked loud whenever she got the chance because the entire history of her country tried to silence her. And she was always fighting because, besides being objectified, abused, raped and molested at will, the only thing that kept her entire civilization alive was because she carried the children, the men and the entire culture on her back. And sometimes, when she had a spare second to put down that load, she felt like dancing and...

You know what? Maybe I should try one last story. That last one wasn’t really funny.


Once upon a time, there was a boy named Michael. And Michael knew Keisha. And Michael knew Jerome. And Michael knew Toby. But Keisha’s, Jerome’s and Toby’s story didn’t make Michael laugh. Their stories made Michael aware.

But even though Michael knew about these stories, Michael couldn’t do shit about it. So instead of getting mad about it, Michael pointed out how white tongues were privileged enough to enjoy flavorless shit like mayonnaise. Michael saw how they stole Jerome’s essence, so he joked about Maroon 5's music. Michael saw how they treated Keisha and called women Beckys.


And some people thought that it was hilarious when Michael did these jokes, but the truth was, Michael didn’t hate Maroon 5. Michael didn’t even hate white people. Michael loved Keisha. Michael loved Jerome. Michael loved Toby.

And Michael didn’t give a fuck about the feelings of thieves, abusers and killers.


But maybe Michael is wrong. Maybe he should consider the feelings of the men with the swords when he throwing water balloons at them. Maybe he should take the 400 years of oppression, flip it around and ask himself: “Are my jokes too harsh? Am I hurting anyone’s feelings?”

Now that is hilarious.

These next two emails are about the bank tellers who called the police on a black man for trying to cash a check:

From: Ben
To: Michael

Yo. It’s funny man you writing about all these stories where black people are being discriminated.... But your talking shit about white people and making racist remarks about them.. I mean I get it it was wrong the way the gentleman got treated at the bank. But you definitely let your hatred for white people seep through into your story there bud.. I’m all for expressing yourself and opinions.. but not all white people are like that.. just like all black people aren’t drug dealers and gang members. This shits gone way to far. The hatred coming from the black community towards the whites is just sad.. I’m a white guy and I’m fucking homeless. Don’t have shit handed to me. And I struggle everyday.. I bust my ass to make my life better and make this world a better place. But to hear someone just hate white people so openly for being white.. come on man... Not all of us work in front of a computer screen. Not all of us have shit handed to us on a fucking platter. I have no health insurance can’t afford to car.on the road. Ride a bike everywhere have 2 children and my life is fucked up.. and the world is the way it is because instead of trying to change things people dwell on the negative stuff and spew more hatred cause they feel mistreated.. yo everyone gets mistreated... everyone comes from different places and different background but nothing should stop anyone from chasing their dreams and being the person they want to be.. most people are where they are in life because they chose to do nothing about there situation. Man I don’t even know what to say. I’m sure your stories have some truth and some people got mistreated but they way you describe all white people is a little ignorant and your no better than the white people who your claiming are so damn racist.. cause you are too. There’s a lot of hatred in this world man you have a good and an opportunity to express yourself and make a living doing it. I would hope you’d use that spot of do some good in the world and not spew.more hatred

I’m not saying the stories don’t deserve to be seen and heard. But fuck you don’t have to paint every white person as a stuck up yuppy rich ass cracker.. I had alot of things go wrong in my life but if I worry about the next man instead of watching the road I’m on. Then I’m gonna lose sight of what’s important. Don’t let others are control your outlook on life. I don’t even know. I have no I’ll feelings my man I just feel like that story and many others of yours are definitely what’s wrong with this whole race battle. We are tearing America apart from the inside out. It’s time to wake up and stop hating. I wish you the best. I really do. Have a good one

From: Karen
To: Michael Harriot

Mr. Harriot,

I read your article on the man, Mr. Paul McCowns, who was treated quite poorly at an Ohio bank. I am from Delaware, Ohio and honestly was very angry. Not only at the unfairness that was shown this man but also at you. Not that I expect you to care but seriously you should. I cannot fault you for being disgusted by this, no one has the right to treat others this way. My anger to you sir is the way you reported this. I hate to tell you but there is no secret white code only seriously judge mental assholes who think they know everything. That is all races sir. That’s right, judging others is what this world is about nowadays. Let’s talk about the fact that we have no manners anymore. Let’s discuss why we don’t take consideration for others anymore. Hate is something that I am all too familiar with. Growing up in this once Rual town of Ohio there were no African American families living in our neighborhood, the time was 1978 when the first family moved in. Awesome people whom my family has loved all these years. Let’s picture for a moment shall we? Old racists men who lived on our street shooting rock salt at us for riding our bikes and calling us hoodlums because my family was from Kentucky, you know, “Hillbillies.” White trash who have no place in their town because all we were good for was Coal mining. My Mother was remarried-whore right? Stupid, uneducated, mmmnnn, deplorables, Oh yes I remember it like yesterday. Well, Kathy and Phillip Rhea moved into our Neighborhood with their 5 children. First day Phil Jr. came to our school we kids at Conger Elementary were elated! No one told us kids not to be friends. His older brother, Gordon, became good friends with my brother, Danny. We spent so much time together it was awesome! Then one day while walking home from school, my brother got jumped by 5 White kids from our street because we were consorting with Black people. Covered in blood from head to toe, my Mother went with my brother to each and every home and cussed the parents out. See, she loved Kathy and Phillip. (Kathy was white btw). My point is, although I am not African American, I do see. I also see 2 wrongs in your article. Mr. McCowns only wrong was patroning a Bank with jerks for employees. Your wrong is allowing them to win. If you give evil a foothold it will never heal. It makes me cringe when I am told I don’t understand. The hell I don’t! I am a Finish carpenter who is not wanted on the job site. Let’s move to Texas-some REAL asshole men who haven’t caught up yet, even worse with comments about what a woman’s place should be. Yeah dude, I feel you. Please be careful to not let your anger make you just like them. Don’t become the thing you claim to fight for the need to feel your right-you’re the savior of nothing now.(David Draman, Disturbed). Sorry but there is no White code, White phone numbers or such. Just really STUPID Liberals who justify their actions to hurt others. Yeah, Globalism? Really? Socialism? Just hold out your right hand to take the mark. He’s coming you know-like Scripture says, my people love it this way. Aren’t we better than this? Who decided? I sure didn’t, wasn’t even asked. You know who else hates? I could tell you a lot about what I’ve learned here in Texas. Hispanics really don’t like Americans at all. Not Black, not white, not Americans. Try going to a predominantly Hispanic grocery. Fun times in there dude! It’s not going to get better if we keep going like this. Only worse and the more we let the Establishment divide us the sooner we usher in what’s coming. I for one am not going down like this. Neither should you. Sorry I sent this to tips, I couldn’t find an email address for you.


Damn, guys

I think you left out some parts in your emails.

Ben. I’m sorry that you are homeless and struggling. I can’t imagine what that must be like. However, I must point out that you excluded a few details from your email.


You left out the part where, as a homeless man, you had a business call the police on you because of the way you looked. In your non-racist, benevolent, fair-mindedness, you neglected to explain how you being poor, homeless and without health insurance has anything to do with race. Unless, of course, in your egalitarian altruism, you equate black with poverty struggle. I’m sure that’s not it, right?

Karen, You just glossed over the part about how you got to live in a white neighborhood until one black family moved in. I know color doesn’t matter to you, but don’t you think it’s funny that you remember the exact year that your white utopia was sullied with a nice black family? Don’t you find it odd that you remember the names of the black people you met 40 years ago? Don’t you find it weird that you vividly recall the two incidents of prejudice you remember in your entire life?


Also, both of you forgot to pull the quote where I said: “all white people are racist.” But since I brought it up, let me explain exactly what kind of white people I was referring to.

I was talking about the kind of white people who believe they know what blackness looks like. The kind of people who would see a man walk into a bank and assume criminal intent are the same kind of people who would explain how poverty and homelessness were kinda like being black. I was referring to the kind of person who thinks a joke about white people staring at computer screens is like saying “all black people” are “drug dealers and gang members.”


I was talking about the kind of white person who thinks the blanket statement about white people are unfair and then turns around and says:

“You know who else hates? I could tell you a lot about what I’ve learned here in Texas. Hispanics really don’t like Americans at all. Not Black, not white, not Americans. Try going to a predominantly Hispanic grocery. Fun times in there dude!”


That’s what racism looks like.

Not all white people.

Just you.

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



Try going to a predominantly Hispanic grocery. Fun times in there dude!

Karen knows racism, everyone. Karen has lived that shit!!!