The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: Apologetically Black Friday

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: Apologetically Black Friday
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/FMG)

A few days ago, during a meeting, I asked The Root staff for more mailbag material. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be hate mail,” I said. “It could be anything worth responding to.”


In my head, I was sure that readers had reached out to our writers for a number of reasons. Maybe they tweeted to discuss a certain point in greater detail. Perhaps they DM’d to respectfully disagree with something one of us wrote. “It can’t all be hate mail,” I hypothesized.

Nope. It’s mostly hate.

Here are some:

The first two letters concern the staff at The Root asking a necessary question: Are we a bunch of racists who hate white people?

From: A white guy
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Why do you hate white people?

Is that a requirement for working at The Root along with disregarding the facts or selectively interpreting them?

And this:

From: David

To: The Root Staf
Subject: The Root gone blind oblivious

I see a lot of disregarding of truths facts in history.

The Barbary Slavery Trade which millions of European whites were enslaved by Arabic and African Muslims long before North America slavery era and that’s how so many Caucasians settled in South Africa and today whites are hunted or forced out of their farmlands.

The Civil War y’all forgotten about seemingly half the nation damn near of whites fighting to end slavery not towards just black folks but all in America.

I see this and contemplating on ringing notices to public agencies such as yours.

Often to often a cop killing unjustifiably a black man is not always a white cop ... The officer often is Asian or Latino or Hispanic even and still pointed it’s white mans fault.

The last roughly 7 years Caucasians have far or easily outnumbered being killed by law enforcement agencies in the USA nation but that isn’t mentioned or acknowledged. I could go on .... But I’m patient.

Respectfully yours

Dearest Mr. white guy and David,

First, I would like to apologize for the misconception that we hate all white people. I searched the archives for evidence of us saying “all white people,” and I could not find a single sentence, but I’m sure there must be at least one, because you feel like we say it. That’s the important thing.

I would like to say that The Root does not require anyone to hate white people. It’s not even in the “relevant experience” section of my résumé, and I removed it from my LinkedIn profile. However, during a recent impromptu survey, the staff realized that I have the most white friends of anyone working here. Therefore, by the “I have a black friend” laws of white people, I am the least racist person at The Root..

[Editor’s note: Michael is a liar. —Deputy Managing Editor Yesha Callahan]

Second, I would like to apologize on behalf of the staff at The Root for our historical inaccuracies. Everything you wrote is right.


Far too often, we writers here omit important details to further our own agendas. I would like to take this opportunity to correct some of those important details.

While white people absolutely were slaves at various points in history, it is our fault for not clarifying our point by using the term “slave” instead of “chattel slavery,” “race-based slavery” or, more accurately, “American white people slavery.”


While some Europeans were enslaved in South Africa, most of the slaves came from India, Portugal and other parts of Africa, meaning that South African slavery was not race-based. You also forgot to mention that slavery didn’t exist in South Africa until the Dutch colonized the country in 1652. 

The Barbary slave trade began when the Romans introduced the concept, and it was also not race-based. North African Barbary pirates enslaved Africans, whites and anyone else. Also, because of Muslim laws, they granted freedom to any child born to a slave woman and a free man, and generally regarded the slaves as people.


Yep, even in your best “white people were slaves too” examples, it was white people in America who did it best.

Also, while the South definitely fought the Civil War to keep slavery, the North didn’t fight to end slavery. The North fought to maintain the Union. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation only ended slavery in the Confederate States of America, not the United States.


And no one at The Root has ever suggested that police don’t kill white people. We say they kill black people disproportionately. For example, black people make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, But in 2017, 35 percent of the people killed by police who were unarmed and not attacking were black.


And if you say, “But black people commit more crime ... ,” I’d point to the 2015 study that shows no relationship between crime rates and racial bias when it comes to police killings, or the 2016 report (pdf) that shows black residents were more often victims of police violence even when researchers adjusted for criminality.

David, the truth is that there is only one group of people on earth who enslaved an entire race of people, encoded said slavery into their laws, subjected offspring of said slaves to perpetual slavery, traded them like baseball cards, caged them in segregated communities like farm animals and were willing to die to keep doing so.


There is no place else in the world where you can determine, statistically, the person who likely earns less money, went to worse schools, is more likely to be incarcerated, will have a longer jail sentence and is more likely to be killed by the people who enforce the law, simply by looking at the color of that person’s skin.

Open your eyes, David. No one here is blind enough to say that all white people did this, but white people did this. In fact, none of us hate white people. We hate racist white people.


Most of all, we hate people who continue to ignore the unique brand of American injustice by sitting back, enjoying their privilege and twisting the facts to make them fit their bullshit narrative.

I don’t hate white people.

I hate people like you, David.

But you are correct. When we talk about mediocre whiteness, prejudice and potato salad, we often forget about the exceptionalism of white American bigotry that outshines every form of racism that ever existed.


For that, we apologize.

And ladies and gentlemen, we have a new candidate for the nuttiest, whitest email ever. However, I will not respond to John (because he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who listens to logic). I will, instead, respond to Anne.

To: Anne Branigin
From: John K.
Subject: The wave of protests

I sometimes read your articles when I wanna get a chuckle. It never fails to amaze me The degree to which the Facists in academia throughout our institutions of learning in this country have warped your young people’s brains. To the point to where you’re not even in a parallel universe to us anymore. you are a society of complete reprobates. Spouting this marxist dialectic everywhere as if marxism has some track record of success. Look at Venazuala that is the end of Marxism. Because and.... that’s what this is all about. I don’t blame you because you have never been taught anything else. This is about the destruction of Christianity and Judaism this is about changing our society from a Christian dominated society into a pagan dominated society.

Another thing I want to , explain something to you .The people that protest are mostly people who either don’t have jobs and live off the government or their people who work for government and can get time off to protest. Won’t be long and you’ll see real grassroots protests people that work take off Work and come out to protest. For the time being the vast majority of the population is working and since Donald Trump got elected a lot more are getting jobs.

Of course you wouldn’t hear about that because you don’t really have any interest to find out the truth. And There’s another thing you don’t really realize because if you did you would be afraid as I am I’m very afraid. Because when the rule of law breaks down, no one is safe If you knew anything about history you would realize that. We have the Justice department attacking a truly elected president of the United States to try and unseat him from power. That’s called a Coup d’etah. And it is in my opinion we don’t even have a constitutional representative Republic anymore. we live in a I’m gonna give it the term a “Corptocratcy” where the corporations control everything everything we see, everything we consume, everything that we need the corporations control. So they really don’t need to get us to vote for anything. they just pull strings here and there and they get things done and the whole scheme of government is a complete play. A drama! that has no meaning on government or foreign policy or domestic policy.

It’s being run by the UN and the council on foreign relations the committee of 300 and the Bilderberg group. But they have no control over DJT. Now of course I’m sure you’re laughing right now but you don’t want even investigate any of that because that blows your whole narrative completely apart. If you want to expand your mind I suggest you read the writings of a doctor Dennis Cuddy. He is a phD of natural history from Duke University I don’t know how old the guy is but hes written extensively on world government and the plan to instituted in the United States. You and your ilk are part of the plan. They’re driving us towards war, I want you to look on your computer and get images of Aleppo in Syria that’s what the major American cities are gonna look like in the not too distant future.

You been taught that white privledge a (marxist Hegelian dialectic term meant to divide us)is the problem in your life. What they mean is that Christianity is the problem in your life because Christianity is the antithesis of marxism. Christianity is the antithesis of marxism because Christianity teaches an individual personal relationship with God and that we are all responsible for our own behavior. Where as marxism teaches the collective. There is no personal responsibility and it’s always somebody else’s fault. See you are a victim not just your average victim you are a victim of whiteness which breed your hatred towards white people. It’s very obvious that you are a racist. It makes no difference what color your skin is. What it comes down to is that because of your reprobate mind you can neither see nor hear the truth.

So Anne you see and you’re doomed there is nothing for you but money so eat and drink and live it up because when you die you’re gonna roll wish that you were a Christian


Gotdammit, Anne, what the fuck did you write? John is right, we’re doomed!

You screwed up and somehow this guy has figured out everything!

Listen, Anne, I know you’re one of those academic types who like facts and knowledge, but lately you’ve been doing too much. I’m not opposed to you and your fancy degrees trying to learn things, but you’re going to expose our entire Marxist plot if you keep doing shit like earning this award that came across my Twitter feed.


How the hell are we supposed to destroy Christianity and America if you’re spending your time learning shit?


I don’t think the Illuminati is going to approve your application if you keep supporting this effort to overthrow Donald Trump! Plus, you might upset some of the fake, unemployed protesters paid by George Soros if they find out you have a job! How are you going to fix this before they find out that they’re not actual victims?

At least this guy didn’t say anything about the Jews, which surprised me. They always figure out a way to make this the fault of the Jews. But now that you’ve been taking glamour shots with Annie Leibovitz, I’m sure someone is going to discover that we are down with the Jews. You better hope this blows over before white Jesus finds out!


Once Jesus returns and explains why he let slave masters throw our ancestors’ bodies into the ocean; tells us why he thought it was cool for us to be oppressed for 500 years; apologizes for not blocking bullets on Memphis balconies and Audubon ballrooms; explains why Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin ended up as bloody corpses while white people continue to escape earthly punishment; rationalizes why he allowed America to use his name in our enslavement, torture and bondage; and finally tells us what’s up with Donald Trump’s hair and Ted Cruz’s face, he’s going to turn to you and say:

“Why were you so mean to white people, Anne?”

You better apologize to Jesus before John tattles to the Lord and Savior and blows up our spot!


Respectfully yours,

And as promised, we end with something positive. Here are some Twitter DMs from people who read our story on having black friends:

From: hastagasaurus:

I really appreciated you 7 rules for white people with black friends. I needed to hear 7. I’ve been fucking up for a while on that front especially. Thanks for the heads up.

From: Christo

Hey my middle name is Bryan—hopefully that doesn’t count in your theory! MY theory is that white people who try too hard to be “one of the good ones” may not necessarily become a “bad one” but they can sure as hell become annoying and grating. Trying too hard comes in many forms, too, whether you’re trying to act “black” or trying to show just how “woke” you are or whatever. Just be yourself and don’t be an asshole, right? Anyway, I enjoy your stuff. (Shit, am I trying too hard now? This is fucking complicated, man) haha Have a good weekend!

From: EverNeverAlways

I don’t consider myself racist, but I don’t have black friends. I had some in college and I know that doesn’t matter. That goes for most of the white people I know. I never thought about this until I read your 7 rules for white people with black friends.

That got me to thinking. You know how easy it is to be racist if you don’t know how it affects people. If it never touches you in any way? Why would I be concerned about black lives matter if I don’t now any black people.

I think this why racism is plentiful. Most of us don’t try to work against it bc it doesn’t affect anyone we know. We know it’s wrong but we rarely see the results because we are separated from it.

No, I, not asking you to be my black friend. I don’t know why I wrote this except to say that the people at the Root are changing some people’s minds and making them think. Stephen C. keeps me on my toes by showing politics from a black perspective. Breanna is my favorite because she always writes about something I never heard about. You guys should keep doing it. It is working.

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


hocuspocusoctopus says wash your damn hands

Christianity teaches an individual personal relationship with God and that we are all responsible for our own behavior.

Someone has been going to the church of Bitch, I Got Mine International.