The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Maybe America Isn't Racist

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Clapback MailbagEach Friday, we select the best (or worst) emails, tweets, DMs and comments from our readers and respond to them in the The Root's Clapback Mailbag.

Michael Harriot is on assignment this week. Before he left, he asked someone to fill in for today’s mailbag but everyone on staff was really busy, so The Root hired me as a one-time freelance writer to fill in. Honestly, I was surprised to get the call. After all of the insults and draggings I’ve received from writers here, I thought they hated me. Perhaps The Root is trying to appear as if they are fair and balanced.


Anyway, I’ve never done this before so I thought I’d introduce myself before I do this mailbag thing. I’m much older than any of the writers here and I’m one of the few white contributors in the history of this site.

Hello, I’m America and this is the Clapback Mailbag.

I think this letter may be about this article on 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant

From: Steve M
To: Michael Harriot

Why do black fighting each other in Columbus even call the cops if the cops are so bad? That cop shot one girl to save another from being stabbed, it seems to me.

Had one black girl stabbed another black girl, well then , it would hardly make the news because it’s just “black people acting like black people”. I’m talking about the THOUSANDS of shootings among blacks only in Chicago last year. I’m talking about seven year old Jaslyn Adams being shot and murdered by another black in Chicago the other day. I’m talking about 100+ carjackings in DC this year, including one where black girls murdered Mohammad Anwar.

It’s to the point where I say Jaslyn Adams is a tragedy but THANK GOD the police weren’t around. Because there is no winning in that situation. I seriously question if police should intervene in black only violence. And the blacks back me up, they say the police are bad.

These blacks in Ohio should have been left to themselves, let them kill each other or whatever. What we need is careful education to instruct white people to avoid black people at all costs in every phase of life. It’s simply not worth it.

You think a “new day” is starting with this racial narrative of yours. I argue that each incident reinforces in people’s minds how black live and behave, and they are horrified, and they redouble their efforts to make sure they avoid black people at all costs.

Segregated living will not end because of your narrative. It will be extended.

Until the blacks show they can form decent societies on their own, they are doomed to be looked at as an inferior people. No one wants to live among blacks because they see how they live and behave.

The problem in Columbus and black communities in general is not the cops acting wrongly. It’s the incredible rate of crime committed by blacks.

But you keep trying.

Dear Steve,

As a fan of Michael Harriot (in spite of his repeated defamation of my character), I know that he has written repeatedly about the notion of Black on Black crime, including the last Mailbag. However, I would like to address some of your other statements, including your claim that “each incident reinforces in people’s minds how black live and behave, and they are horrified, and they redouble their efforts to make sure they avoid black people at all costs.”

If Michael were writing this, he would probably condemn you as a racist. Instead, I’d like to congratulate you for making a well-reasoned argument. In fact, by explaining how white people don’t want to live around Blacks because they’re inferior, you have simultaneously proven your (that police, and white people in general, don’t want to live around inferior Black people) while simultaneously proving Michael’s point (that police, and white people in general, are generally racist by default).

Steve, I’ve been around for a long time, so when you say that Black Americans are “doomed to be looked at as an inferior people,” and explain how “[n]o one wants to live among blacks because they see how they live and behave,” you are echoing a sentiment that has been around since before I emancipated myself from my British mom.

I can remember Thomas Jefferson saying in his fourteenth query in Notes on the State of Virginia that “blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” When contemplating what to do with emancipated Blacks, Jefferson posited that the only way to keep the white race’s “dignity and beauty” was, “when freed, [enslaved Africans] is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.

When Jefferson wrote that in 1780, less than 2 percent of my Black population was free. Not only had he likely never met a Black person whose life wasn’t affected by the institution of slavery, but he had definitely never met a Black person in the entire country whose life wasn’t affected by slavery and the inherent belief of Black inferiority. Until this day, every single negative connotation of Black people held by you, Jefferson and this whole nation, is colored by the lens of white supremacy. Even what white people know of Africa is tinted by white people’s introduction of colonization, human trafficking and a system of race-based chattel slavery that never existed on this planet until white people dreamed it up.


As far as your assertion that African Americans are “doomed to be looked at as inferior people until they prove they can form decent societies on their own,” I would ask that you explain what you mean by “decent society.” A society like the European ones who raided an entire continent when they ran out of people to rape and pillage? Do you mean one like Jamestown, whose colonizers were so inept at nation-building they had to depend on the welfare of natives and the work of enslaved Africans after the savage white people cannibalized their own “decent society?” The decent society of the Nazis? The barbarians? The Roman warmongers? The Greeks who came to Africa to learn math and science. The Catholic crusaders who got their asses kicked by the Moors and sacrificed their children? All the other more advanced cultures who had the means and the technology but left white people alone because they had no need to wreak havoc around the globe like the uncivilized Europeans?

Which ones are you referring to? I’d like to know, because I have never seen a “decent” white society. And, trust me, I would know. After all...


I’m America.

I don’t know what this is about but apparently some white people think Michael is racist:


Subject: Sad

Why is it completely fine to be unapologetically racist if you are not white?

From: Larry
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Wypipo


Having been a white folk longer than you have been a black folk,I am more of an expert than you.Born up North outside of Detroit.Didn’t know there were seperate bathrooms until later in life.Grew up and played all sports with black folk.Golden gloves with black folk.Best friend in Vietnam was so black he was blue.You’ve heard that before I’m sure.Since I am white folk I must be racist.But I am selective.I am not some punk-ass liberal hiding behind my George Floyd banner.I don’t like most white folk either.So you can shove your philosophy about white folk up your black-ass.Have a nice day “homeboy”.


Dear fellas,

Thank you for your concern.

I am aware that white people detest the term “wypipologist.” But, after talking with Michael, I would like to reveal something that I discovered about the term.


For centuries, colleges offered the study of societies and human interaction in a field called “sociology.” But most academic institutions only concentrated on studying white people. There were, of course, universities and institutions that studied Black History, but nothing offered a look at current non-white social conditions in me or around the globe.

In the 1960s, academic institutions began offering courses in these specialized areas – not separate from sociology – but because the study of sociology didn’t include Black and brown people. Chicano studies, for instance, became popular on the West Coast and in the Southwest. Colleges also introduced Black studies, Afro-American studies and Africana studies programs. These programs looked critically at Black people in the African diaspora.


But if you studied Black people to understand white supremacy and its effect on me, you’d leave out the Native Americans, Hispanic, immigrants etc. So, the only way to understand racism in a broad view is to study the people who invented, perpetuate and maintain white supremacy...

White people.

I asked Michael why he chose the term “wypipology” if it is so offensive, and he looked at me as if I had asked him why he always started with the letter A when he recited the alphabet. Instead of answering, he pulled up a number of institutions that focus on Black people. Most of the Afro-American programs studied Black people through sociology, history or even science. Africana studies centers Black people in their narrative, but in 1987, Temple introduced a Ph.D. program that centered the study of Black people as its own discipline and how they relate to the world in general. Harriot wants to do the same with white people. And while it may seem like a joke, he devised a name after Temple’s program...


The Department of Africology.

Should he be offended?

There was a lot of pushback on Michael Harriot’s piece Maybe America is Racist” as well as “Daunte and the Debt Collectors.”

From: Jon
To: Michael Harriot

Your article doesn’t mention Floyd and Wright enjoyed robbing women at gun point and both resisted arrest. You don’t have the stats of black men who resist arrest odds of being shot vs blacks who cooperate with the police. Live by the gun die by the gun.

They shouldn’t of been killed but they were criminals who wanted to do the crime but not the time. 6 foot 4 and does a home invasion on a pregnant woman but cries like a baby for his mom when he’s not the one in power with a gun. If they weren’t criminals who resisted arrest we wouldn’t know who they were and they would be alive. It’s hard for me to feel sympathy for punks who rob anyone yet alone woman at gun point.

I have been robbed at gun point by a black man I had never knew. Also jumped by a group of blacks on three different occasions. None of these people knew me or even my name. I was alone and they felt power in numbers. No other race has ever done anything like this to me but I still treat all people I meet the same.

I’m a nice person and have friends of all sorts and a interracial wife and children. I didn’t agree with your article. Hopefully you can see my point of view too. I don’t expect you to respond and if I was black I would have resentment towards white people and the police but the fought a war to end slavery and many white Americans like myself families didn’t move to the USA until the 1900s. I believe all people are capable of being wonderful or evil.

One love

From: Vincent P
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Wright killing

Message: So, a young black male is being placed under arrest, not being threatened, everything calm. But he jumped back into his car because he didn’t want to be killed by police?. Nice try, pure speculation, no evidence regardless of any past cases.

From: Tomas C
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Daunte and the Debt Collectors: How the Cops Became Robbers

Message: It is comments like yours, articles like yours, that are getting black kids killed. You make it seem OK to black kids to break the law as long as you are black. As long as you are black you do not have to have respect for the police or any authority.

Victimless crimes also include tax evasion, right? Smuggling weed into the USA, right? No matter how many Latinos die in drug wars, weed is just so cool, right? No harm in smoking weed. Instead of your poor oppressed black folk bullshit, maybe you ought to try to teach black kids to obey the law, cooperate with police, don’t resist, don’t jump in a car to run at high speeds killing pedestrians, don’t ride around thuggy with a pistol, like he did before, hence the warrant for his arrest.

This kid would be alive today if someone like you, instead of calling for lawlessness, would instead tell your people to stop trying to be gangstas and just cooperate with cops. Floyd would be alive; Daunte would be alive. So many would be alive if you just stopped telling your whole race that you are collectively hunted in fear of your lives and instead that if you cooperate with authority, which is required in a civilized society, that you go to jail, you make bail and you go home. Fight, resist, run, and you gonna get shot with something, or you gonna get beat, but for sure something bad is gonna happen, and when people get excited and start fighting, shit like this happens. Keep printing articles like this one, and black kids will for sure keep dying and it will be your fault.


Dear Jon, Tomas and Vincent P.

You make some good points. Floyd was convicted of aggravated robbery nearly seven years ago and Wright was accused of robbery. As a country and an idea, I condemn all forms of crime.


However, there’s this thing some white people wrote for me a long time ago called a Constitution. All of my life, I’ve been told that it was the most important part of me. It governs how I respond to everything...

Except Black people.

For some reason, the three of you don’t seem to recognize the part where George Floyd served his time for a crime he committed. That’s the entire point of the law. You pay your debt to society and that’s it. It’s the literal meaning of taking responsibility for one’s actions. So, in my eyes, Floyd should have been considered as innocent as any other American. But for some reason, police can’t seem to do that. I wonder what it is about him that makes cops feel that way?


As far as I’m concerned, Daunte Wright didn’t commit a robbery of any kind. See, I also have this thing where I consider people innocent until they’re proven guilty – not by a cop on the side of the road, but in a court of law. I wonder why you can’t give the presumption of innocence while saying I’m “speculating” about the cop who shot him?

According to that Constitution thingy, Derek Chauvin killed an innocent man who was handcuffed on the ground and had committed no crime. According to that “law and order” shit I keep hearing about, Daunte Wright was an innocent man. According to the definition of “justice,” if someone kills an innocent man, whether intentional or by mistake, they should face the consequences. That’s all people are asking.


But I wonder why you are so willing to grant cops the benefit of the doubt when they kill Black people? I wonder why Daunte was a “robber” but the cop is not a killer? I wonder why George was “dangerous” if he paid his debt to society but Chauvin was a valiant cop even though he had shot two people and killed one?

I wonder why I keep hearing the same complaints from Black people generation after generation, year after year? I wonder why white people are so willing to dismiss these complaints after 400 years of evidence? Either the vast majority of all the Black people who ever lived in the history of myself are all telling the same lie, or this country is racist as fuck!


Oh shit! What if I’m just another white racist?

That’s a rhetorical question. It’s not like I’m gonna change or nothing. After all...


I’m America.

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


The Thugnificent Pangaean

I can remember Thomas Jefferson saying in his fourteenth query in Notes on the State of Virginia that “blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” When contemplating what to do with emancipated Blacks, Jefferson posited that the only way to keep the white race’s “dignity and beauty” was, “when freed, [enslaved Africans] is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.

This makes sense, since TJ definitely banged enslaved Africans mistresses, despite their (sic) inferior physical endowments.


240 years later, and US white supremacists can’t keep their story straight, even if the world is openly laughing at their BS.