The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Children's Stories

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Children's Stories
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante

Once upon a time, not long ago
When you didn’t have to wear a mask to the grocery store
Before an orange Klansman became president
Caucasians were behaving like they had some sense.
There were some white people who were misled
to believe we gave a fuck when they just said:
“I don’t understand why you’re so mad
Because we sold your ancestors and hate your ass.”
Even when George Floyd told them he couldn’t breathe,
they kept kneeling on his neck. It’s like they have a disease.
They kill another and another and a sister and a brother.
Even shot Breonna as she slept, under the covers.
But when we call for justice, they start acting erratic
They sent soldiers to Portland and just started kidnapping.
Even when they charged the cops and say “why’d you kill him?”
We know the prosecutors are gonna still acquit ‘em.
Even if we peacefully protest the cops
They’ll still call us “rioters” every time we march.
Watching all of this, you’d start to figure:
“Why be nonviolent in a violent system?”
But the corrupt Attorney General William H. Barr
looked at the footage and guess what he saw?
Angry negroes! So he called Fox News
who don’t know the meaning of the justice or truth.
They said: “Law and Order! Hurry up, Trump!”
Donald was hiding in the basement like a goddamned punk.
Then he cold dashed to a church down the block
and held a Bible in the air for a photo op.
This made Evangelicals happy
Because white Jesus doesn’t believe that Black Lives Matter.
Deep in their hearts, they know they are wrong
so they write us letters saying we should “move on.”
They claim they don’t have a racist bone in their bodies
while living in a country that racism founded.
Anyone with good sense knows they’re lying
So this is the way I begin each Friday
answering their emails, DMs and tweets.
Even the comment section can get this heat.
Sometimes it’s funny, so you can just laugh
When I roast their ass in the Clapback Mailbag
This lede might be too much but all I’m just sayin’:
Arrest the motherfuckers who killed Breonna Taylor

Good night.

First, I’d like to clear some things up about the Root:

To: The Root
From: Pistol Pete

Are y’all going to run a story about Cannon Hinnant or does that not fit your narrative?


Writer’s note: Cannon Hinnant is a 5-year-old boy who was shot by a Black man.

From: James
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Homophobia

I am a big fan of your work but I notice that you and The roots seem to have an agenda to promote gays and trannies as acceptable lifestyle. This is not a part of the black lives matter movement and lumping it all together does not work.

I am not homophobic because a phobia is a fear. I am not afraid of gay people but as a true Israelite I cannot condone the lifestyle. Do you think those gay white people care about us? We need to focus on our people amd stop pushing this liberal agenda.

Dear homophobes, racists and trolls,

First, I’d like to clear up James’ stupid argument about the words “transphobia” or “homophobia.” Even though your parsing of the definition of a “phobia” is correct, you’re only talking about the full word.


However, when I was about 8 years old, I learned that a suffix not only changes the meaning of the derivative word, but a word can actually change the meaning of a suffix. For example, a bibliophile likes books. Cinephiles love movies. But audiophiles don’t just like audio—they like high-quality sound recordings. See, the derivative word changed the meaning of the suffix. But, according to James’ logic, kindergarten teachers, pediatricians or anyone who is fond of children should simply be called a “pedophile,” right?

Also, there’s this:

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Children's Stories

Anyway, I just wanted to clear that up.

The Root has often been accused of perpetuating a “narrative” or having “an agenda,” which is absolutely true.


While the individual importance of the agendas vary (Jezebel has a feminist agenda, Earther’s agenda is the environment and Deadspin’s agenda is sticking know what? Let’s move on), when we signed our employment papers to work at G/O Media, we agreed to push this agenda on the public. I may get in trouble for this, but I’m going to share the official ranking of The Root’s agenda.

10. Pro-Oprah agenda: I can’t talk about this one because it’s supposed to be hidden. I’ll just share this:


I wonder how he found out?

Someone must be leaking info.

9. Anti-Kardashian: I still can’t figure this one out.

I don’t know why we won’t give Kim ‘nem good coverage when there’s a story about them using their unmistakable talent to create culturally significant art. One time, during an editorial meeting, I asked if we could start a push to nominate Kim K. for a Nobel Peace Prize and everyone just laughed.


I think this is Monique Judge’s fault.

She’s a hater.

8. Anti-cop agenda: This has nothing to do with the disproportionate number of Black people killed by police. We pay no attention to the fact that white people are more likely to use drugs while Black people are more likely to be arrested for them. We don’t care about the mass incarceration statistics, the police rapes, the unequal bail fees or the brutal videos of cops beating people. We even reject the positive stories about good police officers who stand up against their fellow cops to fight injustice.


I think that’s our policy.

I’ll confirm that as soon as I find one of those “good cop” stories.

7. The feminist agenda: The majority of our staff are women so they be making us treat them like equals and shit.


6. The Democratic narrative: We actually had to train for this agenda during a three-day retreat on the Democratic plantation. I’d recommend it, but it’s hard to get an invite. Apparently 84 percent of Black people, 63 percent of Hispanics, 65 percent of Asian Americans, 66 percent of Muslims, 69 percent of Buddhists, and 61 percent of Hindus are all on the Democratic plantation.

I didn’t see any white people there.

5. The anti-white narrative: This is the easiest of all the agendas. All we have to do is say the words “white people” and we’ve fulfilled our anti-white quota.


4. The trans agenda: Every time we write about a Black trans woman being killed, we are apparently pushing the trans agenda on people. In my opinion, it seems like this “narrative” would stop people from killing trans women. Plus, if Black Lives actually matter, then aren’t Black trans women and men included?

Now, I actually agree that you don’t have to “accept their lifestyle,” because no trans person I’ve ever met ever expressed a desire to be “accepted” into the ideology of the imbecilic clubhouses that causes people to make this stupid, exclusionary argument.


Apparently, I don’t understand this agenda shit at all.

3. The gay agenda: Studies show that reading about homosexuals doing shit like eating, breathing and being actual human beings can actually change a person’s sexual preference. Personally, I don’t subscribe to this ideology because, if it were true, wouldn’t reading the 99.9 percent of news articles about straight people eradicate homosexuality from the face of the earth? But every time I ask this question, Umar Johnson just ignores my emails.


2. The anti-straight Black male agenda: Everyone knows we hate Black men, which is why 58 percent of our articles this past month has been about Black men, 82 percent of which have been positive (yep, I counted). It’s also why we had a site called Very Smart Brothas a whole year before we started our women’s vertical, The Glow Up. Even our Facebook followers note our disdain for black men:

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Children's Stories
Screenshot: Facebook
Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Children's Stories
Screenshot: Facebook

This has really caused damage to our gay agenda.

1. Black supremacy: This is our No. 1 agenda. We are supposed to use reverse racism and make everyone hate white people, white males especially.


None of our agendas seem to work very well. White people are still doing pretty well; there is still Democratic infighting we haven’t received a single confirmed gay-to-straight conversion in months.

But when I ask my boss about the failures of our agenda, she keeps repeating the same line:

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” — Fannie Lou Hamer.

This next (admittedly long) response is for people who took issue with our tweet saying Donald Trump is a racist.


Dear Twitterers,

First, let me once again explain the difference between racism and white supremacy. The explanation is in the article and I have written about it many times.


You know what? I’m gonna just cut and paste it here so...Oh, wait.


Well, that was easy.

Never mind.

Finally, here’s a few responses about The Root’s “pro-pussy” agenda. Also, you should know that this first email is from a totally different Pete.


From: Pete
To: Michael Harriot

If you wonder why your culture lags behind, its because you value tripe like this instead of famil values. Blame the erosion of Christian values instead of raycism and you might not be a victim all youre life.

From: Sarah
To: Michael Harriot

Have you ever thought about what we’re teaching your children? Would you want your daughter to this filth?


Dear Pete and Sarah,

When I was 11, I started an interstate crime ring.

Back in the day, when record companies would advertise their products in magazines, I would order six cassette tapes for 99 cents and I would never pay them back! I did it with multiple record companies and even had the cassettes sent to my aunts and cousins’ house to throw the postal investigators off the scent.


I had every comedy album Richard Pryor ever made. I had Flip Wilson’s whole catalog and all of Redd Foxx’s tapes. I had Prince’s sexually explicit music, Michael Jackson’s gyration-inducing hits and all of the nasty heathen songs that you could ever dream of. While this is technically mail fraud, I was forced to do this because my mom wouldn’t let me listen to that heathen music because she, like you, knew the effect it would have on me and my chances of getting into God’s kingdom.

But that was only the beginning of my evil lawlessness. I eventually talked my grandmother into buying me a Walkman by convincing her that I could use them to listen to the sermons that she recorded at church. (Yes, my grandmother recorded all of our church services.) She would play her recorded sermons on our floor model hi-fi stereo as the sounds of Jesus wafted through the entire house. She was so happy that I was now a preacherphile (see what I did there?) that she even allowed me to listen to my walkman in church because the only thing better than the Holy Ghost was more Holy Ghost.


Well, one day, I walked into the house and she was sitting in her yellow rocking chair that we called her “throne” with all of my tapes in her lap.

“Mikey, what is this?” she asked as she took one of my tapes, inserted it into the tape player on the floor model television and pressed the “play” button.


Y’all...I don’t know if she cued up the tape for dramatic effect or if this was the handiwork of the good Lord himself but I remember the exact Richard Pryor line that blared out of those speakers:

“She said: ‘Freeze! First thing I gotta do is show you where the pussy at.’”

Aside from when Reva Shayne was killed for the fifth time on The Guiding Light, I have never seen my grandmother so hurt and angry at the same time. And she sat there, in all her disappointment, staring at me as Richard Pryor continued to describe his nymphomaniac monkey breaking its virginity and asked me if this was what I had been listening to in church. She knew I would tell her the truth because she knew I had been raised right. She also knew that I loved her more than anything in this world and I knew she was a child of God.


I paused for a second, knowing that the mighty God we served had already known my transgressions and no sin goes unpunished. As a pure servant of God, my grandmother could snuff out a lie better than any lie detector. So I thought about my answer before I opened my mouth.

“Nah, grandma,” I said with a straight face. “I was listening to Bishop preach.”

“Ok,” she responded to my lie. “Just don’t listen to that music in church.”

That’s the end of the story.

Unlike Pryor, I never set myself on fire or freebased cocaine. I didn’t dress in women’s clothes like Flip Wilson nor did I ever meet a girl named Nikki in a hotel lobby masturbating to a magazine. I never said “fuck” in front of her, nor did I ever tell a girl “don’t stop ‘til you get enough.” After listening to Biggie, I never had suicidal thoughts or rob a player for the Utah Jazz, nor did I request to prove my nastiness to my girlfriend in an attempt to call her “Miss Jackson.”


And somehow, Jesus never punished me for listening to “Darling Nikki” during the altar call.

Even though I let all of those artists play directly into my ears, my real life was as uninfluenced by that music as I was by the repeated pleas from my choir to “get right with God.” I have always assumed I was able to resist temptation and separate song lyrics from reality because the actual human beings around me probably had influenced my decision-making more than the lessons gleaned in three-and-a-half minutes of music.


But now I know the truth:

Apparently, I had never heard about wet ass pussy.

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


Murry Chang

You mean Tipper Gore’s crusade against foul language in music DIDN’T save America?