The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: First of All ...

Oscar Bustamante/The Root/FMG
Oscar Bustamante/The Root/FMG

Happy Clapback Day! Yes, we’re making it a day of the week. The name “Friday” wasn’t imaginative enough. Plus, it has nothing to do with frying. If they only served fried chicken and french fries, then I’d be cool with the name, but I think the last day before the weekend should be reserved for clapping back.


I’m not just talking about how we here at The Root respond to the hateful tweets, emails or comments; I’m talking about you, too. Why not use this day to clap back at everyone who fucked with you during the week? Send an anonymous note to Sheila in human resources telling her she needs to use better deodorant, if only for the one day you have team meetings. Scream “Fuck you” to the mailman who left your packages from in the rain.

Let this be a healing day because the end of the week should be a catharsis so that you can empty out your negative energy and absorb something positive. Because next week is going to be shitty, too. Because haters gonna hate and motherfuckers gonna motherfuck.

Because clapping back is self-care.

The following is a Twitter direct message received by staff writer Monique Judge from a reader named Patrick:

Since you “said what you said” I’ll say what I say too: It’s great and makes sense that Lion King has a predominately black cast. However you making it about race and calling people “pasty faces” how does that make things better? How is it not divisive? Racism is not a one way street-and your angry and hatefully-toned blog posts and replies to comments just go to show that. Racism is not an American problem, it’s a human problem and honestly, minorities in America have it pretty damn good. I’m not saying things are perfect, but please go to any country in the world and by comparison you will see how much more tolerant and accepting people are in the US-byfar. Just like you have nothing to be ashamed of for being black, I don’t have any self-loathing tendencies for being white. It’s just a shame that black people can be openly racist and think it’s only an one-way street, because it’s obvously not. And before you reply some angry and race-based argument about how bad being black is in America and how oppressed you are, please save it. If yo want to talk like an adult and not shout insults at people for being different than you, I’m open to that.


Dearest Patrick,

First of all, Monique is racist.

Let’s get that out of the way. I have spoken to our HR department about her calling white people pasty faces. That’s just wrong. If Monique is using Elmer’s glue as a standard, I think her adjectives are offensive, too. I believe your faces have more of a biscuit-dough complexion. The good biscuits, though. Like Pillsbury or something.


Second, I’d like to thank you and all white people who have the hubris to use the “It could be worse” argument. It’s like telling a woman who’s been beaten up and left for dead, “Well, at least he didn’t rape you.”

But I really wanted to get to your main point, Patty. One of the things I’m most confused by is the vast quantity of white people who come to a site about race, read the content and reply, “Why do you have to make everything about race?”


That is literally what Monique is paid to do, Pat. Your complaint is akin to someone asking why ESPN doesn’t focus on politics more often. Why does everything have to be about sports over there?

I am not a technical wizard by any stretch of the imagination, but let me let you in on a bit of advanced computer coding that is hidden in whatever platform you are using to read this: If you look at the top of your screen, there is a small symbol of an arrow pointing left. That is called the “back button.” If you click on it, miraculously you won’t be forced to read Monique’s words. Also, If Monique’s words make you uncomfortable, then good. It’s the job of everyone here to make white people uncomfortable. All white people. Uncomfortable enough to do something. Anything.


Some will not feel uncomfortable at all. They will think to themselves, “I’m not racist, I don’t participate in racism, so I’m not offended by any of this because they’re not talking about me.”

Some of them, in their discomfort, will say, “Fuck The Root.

Some of them will say, “Fuck this system; I need to do something about it.”

And some, unfortunately, will feel so uncomfortable about their own subconscious racism that in hopes of absolution, they will take the time to direct-message a writer about how black people complain too much about racism as they, themselves, are whining about a motherfucking Disney movie.


This week, news fellow Anne Branigin wrote this story:


After the article appeared, Anne received a boatload of communications. The following letter is representative of them all.

From: ABQ
To: Anne Branigin

Why dont you go in as hard on punk hillary the aristocratic bitch that used bubba to imprison millions of poor mostly black men. Or her advocacy of private prisons. And to later imply who blacks should vote for. How about shutting the fuck up bitch.

What could your snow white ass come in and tell us collectively whats for our good. Im a bernie or bust voter that voted for trump cause i hated hillary and wanted an end to globalization. 8 years obama had an opportunity to adress criminal justice reform. 8 YEARS!!!!!

bottom line before you go out and denounce the only person with guts to advocate for the belitttled and downtrodden do a little inbiased research your self. As a real black person, not some bitch with a platform to talk, i think that hes a ok with me. How about asking a black person before writimg about what we need pr who we feel is that person to advocate for it. It sure wasnt cunt ass hillary


Dear ABQ,

First of all ... I asked Monique, and she told me that Anne isn’t pasty white or “snow white.” Anne confirmed that while she has seen seven dwarfs, she has never lived with seven of them. Or a prince.


But I thank you for your letter. I want to explain how this anti-Bernie bias works.

Every morning, the writers at The Root compile a list of stories we will write about. Some of them are assigned to us. Some of them are newsworthy events. Some of them are our own ideas. Then we spend the rest of the day reporting, writing about or covering an issue.


None of us here at The Root are sitting around waiting for a story about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton to surface so that we can bash either candidate. While we care about politics and how they affect minorities, when it comes to Bernie vs. Hillary, or Chrisette Michelle or most other divisive issues, we try to adhere to a strict journalistic policy known as “not giving a fuck.”

Anne isn’t sitting around the office rocking back and forth like she’s in a double Dutch competition waiting for a story so she can bash Bernie. She wrote about a quote that Bernie actually said. If you have an issue with what he said or how it was received, you should write an angry email to Bernie Sanders.


You should also be aware of one other thing about Bernie Sanders (whom—in the spirit of full disclosure—I confess I voted for in the primaries):

He motherfucking lost.

I wanted him to win. A lot of black and brown people wanted him to win. But he got his ass whipped. Very few people think that Hillary Clinton is a friend to black people or even unworthy of being called a “cunt ass.” (Although I do question your blackness for using that word. It’s just not a thing for us.)


When we write a story that reflects how actual people feel, it’s not meant to be an attack. It just is. Some black and brown people just weren’t down with Bernie like that. Deal with it.

Or not.

We don’t give a fuck.

From: Greg T.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: You’re obsession with white people

Why are you so racist against white people. I think you are a good writer, but you take every opportunity to down white people. Your anti-white jokes aren’t even funny anymore. Some white people don’t care about race. It is people like you who are so obsessed with everything white people do or say who keep racism alive. Just like some white people need to get to know black people, you need to get to know some non-racist whites. Most white people are good people who want the same thing in life like everybody black. Sure there are some racists, but they are a small minority of white people. You need to stop focusing on them and find some non-racist white friends. Or maybe you can’t because your the one whose the racist.



First of all ... what anti-white jokes? I was being serious. Every single time.

I’m glad you sent this. I have often been accused of being a racist. So often, in fact, that I decided to be proactive about it. The following is a letter that I hand out to anyone who accuses me of racism:

Dear Sir or Madam;

This letter certifies that the holder, Michael Harriot, can’t be racist. We have verified that he, indeed, has at least one white friend, which exempts him from all claims of reverse racism, regular racism, anti-whiteness or hatred of Caucasians.


The undersigned signatories hereby vouch for Mr. Harriot that they are his white friends, and he has never complained about their dance skills, demeaned their potato salad or asked them why they kiss their dogs in the mouth.


B. Quick
N. Mask
M. Gamms
P. Cavallari
J. Blackburn
S. Soper
K. Tveit
G. Bradshaw
J. Patnoudes
A. Koffman
J. Brown
C. Matthews
J. Nielsen
M. Major

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



Im a bernie or bust voter that voted for trump cause i hated hillary and wanted an end to globalization.

So much self-hate and stupid to unpack in one fucking sentence. Your hate of Hillary made you quickly abandon everything that Sanders (reportedly) stood for, do a complete 180 and vote for TRUMP? To end globalization? Behind the man who hasn’t made a thing in this country since his kids were born???

The writer of that letter is one dumb MFer.