Image: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/GMG)

I know it’s late. I was doing stuff.

Also, before we get into this week’s shenanigans, I wanted to let you guys know that if you see a picture on my yearbook page of me doing something stupid in college, it was actually me. So before the National Enquirer blackmails me, I am going to reveal it to the public. The caption probably defines my entire life:

Screenshot: Birmingham News

And no, I will not resign from the answering our emails tweets and messages every Friday. You’re stuck with me.

Anyway, here’s this week’s mailbag:


The first letter concerns the article about Liam Neeson:

From: Terb
To: Michael

First let me say that I am a fan of some of your work even if I disagree with most of it. I like to look at all sides of issues and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think you are a very fine writer, despite our differences of opion.t I read your article on Liam Neeson and his admission on GMA. I certainly find it disturbing as you do. However, do you think that being outraged about Liam Neeson or about people who wear blackface who are unaware of its implications serves your purpose.

If there is widespread racism everywhere, shouldn’t the approach be to eliminate the worse parts of it? I’m not saying you should ignore small acts of racism, but if everything is amplified at the same volume, then don’t you think people are likely to start tuning you out? If you equate blackface and racist thoughts to slavery, how can you ever expect anyone to take you seriously or seriously contemplate your points.

We may disagree on a lot of subjects but as a “wypipo” as you say, I would suggest many might be willing to listen if you used a little more tact and tempered your arguments.

Look forward to reading more of your work.

Terb

Dear white man,

First, let me say that I am a fan of some of your work even if I agree with most of it. I like to look at all sides of issues and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think you were a very fine whitesplainer, despite our difference of opinion. I read your letter and I must compliment you on your ability to overlook the fact that the first line of the Liam Neeson piece literally says: “Before we begin, let me assure you that no one is outraged.” I find it as amusing as you do.

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However, do you think that any black person would ever take advice from a white person about how we should think of, talk about or react to racism? Since the first day a Caucasian foot sank into the sand of a North American shore, white people have only cared about the survival and domination of white people.

There is simply no historical, empirical or even anecdotal evidence to suggest that a black person should ever even remotely consider the whims or musings that fall out of a white person’s mouth when it comes to race.

I’m not saying every white person is wrong about race. I’m saying that when I consider the slaughter of the native Americans, the triangular trade, the Indian peace treaties, the fugitive slave law, Jim Crow, redlining, school segregation, police brutality, the criminal justice system, the American education system, employment opportunity, gentrification, the US banking system, voter suppression, the entertainment industry, sports, the distribution of grocery stores, health care and any other tiny sliver of things that white people have been able to touch with their hands, see with their eyes or conquer with brute force, they have always and invariably said: “fuck everyone else.

Given enough tries, a dog could get a perfect score on the SAT but that doesn’t mean I should let a golden retriever tutor me in calculus. What would make me or anyone else believe that white people are more apt to consider our grievances if we simply adjusted our tone? Is there any example of white people ever feeling goodwill toward any group of non-white people? I know what you’re going to say: The civil rights movement.

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Martin Luther King Jr. postulated that white people might be willing to change if he embarked on one of the most famous examples of forgiveness and a beautiful display of faith in humanity. He believed that peace and humility could change white minds. Do you know what happened when he offered absolute unwavering love to white America in the face of hate?

They shot that motherfucker in the face.

If I could conjugate my verbiage into the white passive tense and become the wypipo whisperer, I doubt it would change anything. Like my homeboy told me the day after they announced the George Zimmerman verdict:

“If they gon’ kill you anyway...”

“Might as well fight.”


I don’t know what this is in reference to:

From Laura
To: Michael Harriot

I don’t know what kind of hate you have for white people but I repored you to the authorities. You think you kn ow everything but If you was white you’d be put in jail for racism or somoene would file a class acting lawsuit against your newspaper. You should try being white for a day. Being white dont necesarily make me racist.

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Dearest Laura,

Wait... You can go to jail for racism? Oh shit! I’m going to go over to the Federal Bureau of Racism and fill out some warrants right now! Is that what this whole Robert Mueller thing is about?

As to your other point about what would happen if I was white, I must tell you:

I’d make a terrible white person, even if I only did it for a day.

First of all, I’d abdicate all of my constitutional angry letter-writing duties, shirking off all my duty to change the world by speaking to the manager. Then, my fellow whites would start hating to have me around asking questions like why they say racist shit and where’s the seasoning salt.

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Plus, I’d be called a race traitor because, in this imaginative exercise, I still date black women. I’d probably find myself confused about why the police walked past me without looking or why white women allow their purses to disrespectfully dangle at their sides when I walk past them in dark parking lots. I’d start feeling ignored and depressed.

But then I’d put on some Taylor Swift music and try to find the beat for two or three hours. Once I found it, I would do that seizure dance that white people do at weddings. Then I would try shit like being mediocre and staying employed or getting a lower interest rate with the same credit score as a black man.

Finally, when my white day was almost over, I’d go on the internet and read what a black writer said about race. Given my newfound white skin, it might even make me uncomfortable. But instead of getting really angry and accusing the writer of reverse racism, I’d just quietly examine myself. And if it didn’t apply to me, you know what I’d do next?

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Anything I wanted.

Motherfucker, I’m white.


From: Kim
To: Michael Harriot

Hey, Mike. I am a Root reader and usually a commentor, but I have that up for 2019. I have an idea I’d like to run by you: Blackface Amnesty Day.

Blackface Amnesty Day

Here’s how it would work:

Would take place during Black History Month on an unannounced day so people wouldn’t get their blackfaces out of their system leading up to it, right? Then on Blackface Amnesty Day, anyone who ever did blackface could come out of the closet and admit to it without consequence, be washed clean of their great shame and stupidity.

BUT.

After Blackface Amnesty Day, those who didn’t come out and /or those who continue to commit blackface — ya fucked. The rain of shame and social, financial hellfire on you.

Blackface Amnesty Day would only happen once. Then fuck all those stupid crackers and all their lame excuses.

What do you think?

Dear Kim.

I actually had a similar idea.

I once thought that it would be a good idea to set aside one day, every four years, on February 29. On this day, white people would be allowed to wear blackface, be as racist as they wanted, use the n-word and there would be no judgment and no one would bring it up again. It would kinda be like combining The Purge and the Olympics. I thought that this may help people get the racism out of their system and make the other four years peaceful and happy for people of color.

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But I know what would happen in this fantasy:

The first few years would go well until the greed gene kicked in and people started lobbying for a whole week that would kinda be like Spring Break. Black people would start going on cruises during White Purge Week and it would be like Freaknik for us—a party with no white people.

But then white people would want a whole White Purge Month. And because they’re white, they’d probably want it during Black History Month so Black History Month would become so fraught with danger because white people might kill you if they spot you reading about Frederick Douglas during Whitetember (Yes, they’re going to change the name).

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Then black people, overwhelmed by the growth of White Purge Month, will start thinking that all white people are bad. But white people will be offended and say:

“I was only like that during White Purge Month. You shouldn’t hold it against me. It was a different time. Everyone was like that during that time. I’m different now.”

Soon, black people would become leery of white people, even ones they don’t know, simply because of what they’ve seen white people do during White Purge Month. And whites will insist that they shouldn’t be judged by their past purges or the actions of other white purgers. Plus, how can something be immoral if it is illegal? Every single one of your white friends will insist that they sat quietly in their homes during White Purge Month. And if you doubt them, then you’re the real purgist.

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They’ll accuse you of reverse purgism. They’ll claim that no one is oppressed like purgers are oppressed. And before you know it, white people will have convinced everyone that being criticized for purging is worst than purging.

Someone will likely try to introduce a law outlawing the purge but they will shut down the government unless we allow them to have their Wypipopalooza.

And someone, perhaps a young non-purger who writes online, might ask why so many white people participate in the purge. People might start wondering why, even the ones who claim to be anti-purge, they never seem to speak out to purgers. They never put their shit on the line to try to eliminate purges. But when these anti-purgers refers to them “purgepipo” or calls them cowards for not confronting the purgers in their own community, they will eventually try to purge him.

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I know it sounds far-fetched but I think it could happen. So I came up with an alternative suggestion you can take back to your people:

Stop doing racist shit.