Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: Blame Obama and My Mama

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I’m sorry to announce that there has been a small change made to the mailbag.

In our ongoing effort to evolve this weekly feature, we have decided to include a palate cleanser in each mailbag. You will still get your recommended weekly dosage of hate mail, tweets and comments, but we will also include one funny or positive message just so that you won’t have to walk around all week believing that white people can’t spell.

Although I had to really fight Deputy Managing Editor Yesha Callahan on this (you know she is very racist, and now the Chesterfield County, Va., Police Department has exposed her as “anti-law enforcement”), you guys know me ...


I only want the best for white people.

From: Joe
To: Michael

So explain to me without pointing fingers at the evil white man how Obama improved race relations in AmericaI didn’t even finish your article.

You act like every white man hates every black man. Let me tell you something, you don’t understand how not all white people are racist, just like not all germs are harmful or bad for you. So do you want to give me a better explanation about how Obama improved race relations than me just sitting through an article about uninformed statements about white people waving confederate flags and whispering racist jokes?


Like you, I also believe that former President Barack Obama ruined race relations in America. I have a theory that I like to call the “Obama effect.”


Between my sophomore and junior years in college, I had a job at a paper factory. I was the only black guy in the department where these huge paper tubes were made. I didn’t know shit about paper or pulp, but I have always been pretty swift when it comes to figuring shit out.

The white guys, who had been working in the plant for years, saw me as an interloper and privileged dude who had never worked a hard job in his life. They even nicknamed me “Worm” because I was so skinny that my knees buckled the first time I had to lift one of those tubes.


But after a while, they also noticed that whenever there was a problem, I could help solve it pretty quickly. Soon they made me a “rover”—someone who basically wandered around the floor and helped fix shit. Whenever anything went wrong, they would call for “the Worm.”

Except for one guy.

One guy couldn’t stand to ask for help from me. I suspect it was because he was so racist that he couldn’t accept the fact that a black guy could figure out a problem that he couldn’t. He would ask anyone for help except me, but they would always tell him to “ask Worm.” This motherfucker was so resistant that he started losing his production bonus rather than ask me for help. He would rather be broke.


That’s the Obama effect.

I believe that much of the hate Obama received had nothing to do with politics. It was because these people had never had a black guy telling them what to do, and despite the fact that he fixed the economy, killed America’s greatest enemy and gave millions of Americans health care, they would rather fuck up themselves and the country than admit that he was a decent president.


That’s how Obama ruined race relations. For white people like you, Joe, racism was this country’s secret shame, like a man with a small penis. But Obama’s simple existence pulled down America’s pants and exposed its flaccid inferiority complex to the world.

But Joe, it’s not your fault that you were born that way. And it’s not Obama’s fault that America is this way.


Also, sorry about your penis.

I blame Obama.

From: Dominic
To: Danielle Belton
Subject: How did you get on my mobile

Please remove your dumb ass news source from my phone immediately. Life is full of morons that litter the airwaves, let alone having them show up unannounced and uninvited. Get the hell out of here please, and try to get yourself straightened out. For your own good.


Dear Dominic,

No! You will listen!

The IT department at The Root is privy to a secret database of phone records that listens to your phone calls and reads your text messages to discover the people who need to read our content. You were flagged as a bigot; therefore, we will continue to send articles to your flip phone until you change.


Until we can determine that you are sufficiently unprejudiced, you will have to hear our voices in your head.

Blame Steve Jobs.

And Obama.

From: Jorge
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Hi Mike

It is not difficult to see that your entire life is consumed with being black and centered on race. Your hatrid for whites exudes from every pore. It is quite entertaining to watch, but I feel embarassed for you mostly. You are clearly a sociopath with narcisstic tendencies that thinks the entire world evolves around the struggles of the American black person. Are you struggling Mike? Really? You don’t know struggle Mike. But you like to throw around those old tired words such as inequality, oppressed and racist. Yawn. There are people in today’s world and historically that truly experienced those things, but not you Mike. You don’t know struggle Mike.

The reason you will never attain any respect or credibility is because you only think that you exist. Your selfish and self centered behavior refuses to allow you to notice the hundreds of other races in the world besides your own Mike. But you cannot see it and probably do not care. So, don’t ask yourself why I don’t care it either.

You remind me of the person that Booker T. Washington was describing when he said:

“There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

This is you Mike. You make a living off of preaching hate and fueling the fire of division. Without it, you would be forced to find a new source of income, therefore, you choose to maximize the opportunity. Without this you offer nothing to the world. Is that what scares you Mike? All the skills you posses is being a race baiter? Come on man. You are better than that right?

Get over yourself Mike. You will never win until you get out of the hole you have decided to live in.

There are more races than just black and white Mike. You may want to pull your head out of your rear and notice how the hispanic race is blowing by you ever so quietly with wrecklace abandon, while you whine and complain.



When Jorge received no reply, he sent another message:

To: Michael Harriot
From: Jorge
Subject: Hi Mike


And this Twitter DM came from Brent:

From: Brent

Hello, I read one of your stories today and loved the way you over exaggerated it to make the readers feel your hatred. Yes some white people are definitely messed up and horribly racist but the only way the world will change for the better is to stop trying to create sides. I’ve seen messed up stories made up by both sides. Don’t be that guy. Your better then that.


Dearest Jorge and Brent:

I would like to fill you in on how I came to hate the whites:

It has been mentioned a few times in the comments sections that I was homeschooled until the age of 11. I was raised by a mother who was a combination of flower power hippie and Black Panther (not the T’Challa one; the other kind). I lived in a black neighborhood. I had black friends. Although she taught me a lot about black people through osmosis and the huge collection of books in our home (I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X at age 7, and after reading the science fiction novel Soul of the Robot, I figured that Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice couldn’t be much different), she never really talked about white people at all.


When I finally went to public school, I was supposed to be placed in the fifth grade but was skipped to the seventh. For the rest of my academic career, I was surrounded by white kids.

Although white supremacy is inescapable in America, unlike most people, I had never spent any significant time around the whites. I was a black person who had never held any reverence, fear or respect for white people. Even after joining them in a scholastic setting, from high school through college, I never really met any white people who were especially smart or gifted. Being raised in a Caucasian-free bubble allowed me to view white people objectively, even more so than an immigrant would.


Because of this, I had many white friends, many of whom I am still close to. In fact, I’d probably say I have more white friends than the average black person. Some of them are probably reading this right now. Almost all of them will tell you that I sometimes speak about race, politics and our differences without a filter.

I say all of that to say this:

When you read some of the things that I write, I know that my commentary often comes off as angry or belligerent, and I even understand why it seems that way:

White people aren’t used to anyone talking to them that way.

Most people fashion conversations about anything in such a manner that they will be effective at changing the person’s mind and get him or her to understand their viewpoint. As such, most conversations about race are tailored to appease white sensibilities. In a land built and sustained by white supremacy, the default setting is to discuss race in a way that caters to the sensibilities of the majority.


Fortunately—or, in your case, unfortunately—my upbringing was not entrenched in that way of thinking. I do not hate white people. I am simply unencumbered by the need to sidestep their sensibilities to make my point. White people are not my enemy. White people are not my friends. White people are not special to me. They are just people.

So when I write in this unapologetic, unfiltered way, it often offends the whites because they are not accustomed to being spoken to in such a manner. Because most of them are used to people—especially minorities—tiptoeing around their sensitivities to make a point, they interpret truth as anger.


That is white privilege.

Yes, I write about race. It’s my job. Aside from that, I don’t really think about white people that much. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I am not obsessed with race, any more than a carpenter is obsessed with wood. If you’d like to believe that I walk around with a chip on my shoulder looking for ways to be offended by racism, I apologize.


Jorge, I enjoyed your quote from Booker T. Washington. For most of his career, he was at odds with W.E.B. Du Bois on how they viewed America’s race problem. Du Bois said of Washington, regarding the passage that you previously quoted:

His doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro’s shoulders and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic spectators; when in fact the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs.


In all of your diatribe, you neglected to point out that racism does exist. If, by chance, it disappeared from the face of the earth, I would be happy to lose my job. I would even be delighted if racism withered away to a microscopic speck of bigotry undetectable to the human eye.

That hypothetical, tiny little bit of bigotry is also the size of the fuck I give about what you think of me.


I get it from my mama.

Be well.

And finally, as promised, a bit of positive mail to end this week’s mailbag:

From: MJ
To: Michael Harriot

Good Morning Michael!

I don’t usually use twitter to DM someone, but I didn’t really know how else to get this message to you. I just wanted to say thank you, and the rest of the staff at The Root. I am a queer white guy living in Texas, and this website is one of my favorites- it’s pretty much constantly opened in a tab on my browser at all times. This site has given me a view of the world from a much different perspective than that which I was raised in a predominately white area of NC.

That perspective has allowed for me to see the world, and specifically this country, in a much different light, and that is mostly due to the writing that you,Brianna, Stephen, Yesha, Monique, Damon and so many others submit on a daily basis. From the incredible pain that is shared from some of these stories, to the wry humor and hot takes in other. I am thankful to be able to access this site and am continuously trying to share it with others to perhaps open their eyes in the same ways that mine have been. Of course, I am always excited to see a new article that is connected to Queerness and the intersectionality of it with the other subjects of writing on The Root, but I will never EVER tire of the list of names you have for that Orange Faced Fuck Muppet currently sitting in the Oval Office.

So, in summation, a sincerest “Thank You” for all of the hard work that you and your team do, and I wish you all peace and love.