Oscar Bustamante/GMG/The Root

Yesterday, after discovering that the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Channing Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, Winston Churchill and Jesus H. Christ for a half-eaten bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, in a failed attempt to make a joke, I suggested that I was leaving The Root:

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It was a joke, but the responses were both overwhelming and clapback-worthy. Some people took it seriously.

Others took the opportunity to dance on my nonexistent grave and let me know what wypipo think about me.

From: Justin T.
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Bye, nigger

Good riddance! We are tired of reading your low crying about “whypipo” every day. Maybe they are tired of you entitled worthless low IQ violent sexually aggressive fucking apes and we refuse to take the blame for your terrible culture and behavior anymore. Fuck you nigger

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But at least it provided me with an opening for this week’s mailbag. Let us begin.


Our first two pieces of correspondence come from the comments section on the article about Mansa Musa I:

From: Rev

Hillarious stuff. Reads like a joke from The Onion.

All written on white man’s technology, while you’re safe under the roof designed by white men, built by white men, and you crawl back to your sad little existence, carrying that sad little excuse for a paycheck, signed by a white man.

You want to experience all of the wonders and technology of a culture who’s biggest contribution to the world was using their own as cattle? Knock yourself out, boy. I hear Liberia is LOVELY this time of year. What better place to enjoy the hard work and innovation of black people?

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And this one, from Midland:

“Mansa Musa, for centuries the Mali kingdom made Western Europe look like a collection of shithole countries.”

As long as you are incapable of seeing great civilisations except by how they compare to Europe, you are still caught in the eurocentric trap.

Also as you are not European, that is not self deprecation on your part, but weirdly aggressive xenophobia. If a European boastfully remarked at how much of a shithole xy or z non-European country was compared to a contemporary European country, you would rightfully note that person to be an idiot, so why do you ruin a very informative article by boorishly doing the same?

“Instead of conquering through war, he expanded his empire through annexation”

Because the violent conquering had already taken place and annexation is not a peaceful act anyway.

Why do you feel the need to sanitise a powerful empire? Imperialism is not universally bad in all situations, it has been the human way for millenia.

“While Europe was slowly emerging from the famine, war, disease and mass poverty that killed 1 in every 10 Europeans between 1315 and 1316, Musa was building universities, mosques and city centers throughout the empire of Mali.”

You sound almost gleeful.

Western Europe also had universities, grand cathedrals and great market centres at this time. One of the reasons famine broke out was because countries like England had boomed since 1200 and by 1300 had a population estimated at between 5-6 million with more land cultivated than even in 1900.

The Mali Empire’s achievements at that time were clearly superior, but there is no need to denigrate other civilisations in a typically American fashion.

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Slow clap.

Just when I thought I’d seen the complete spectrum of white fragility, you come up with an entirely new category. I can only applaud your brilliance at the creative ways you find to be butt-hurt. To find a way to be offended about 14th-century historical facts is trailblazing. I honor you, sirs.

I love when anyone, including Rev, refers to anything as “the white man’s” because it is indicative of the overarching intercontinental Caucasian pillaging mindset that has weaved its way through history. You motherfuckers will colonize anything! This may be presumptuous of me, but I’m willing to bet all the money in my white man’s paycheck that—aside from his method of associating himself with Steve Jobs’ computers and Al Gore’s internet—Rev hasn’t invented a damn thing.

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But you know what I’m gonna do, Rev? I’m going to concede your point. If I am using the white man’s technology and you are a white man, I’m going to allow you to share credit for it. Using the transitive property, I’m also going to give you shared credit for all white things. So Rev is responsible for Taylor Swift songs, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the rape of Africa, the presidency of Donald Trump and the destruction of the entire planet.

Which leads me to Midland.

Midland, if you feel that I disparaged European countries, I apologize. But as you can see, it’s not my fault. I know you are probably somewhere wrapped in a blanket, quietly weeping at how I denigrated your ancestral home team, but now you see: I be using the white man’s things sometimes. According to Rev, it’s your fault. Why don’t you people take responsibility for your actions?

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As for my part in this, I am willing to share in some of the blame. I recognize that since my people invented math, science, astronomy and agriculture before your people came over to Africa to study, steal and use it for atomic bomb-making, genocide and ravaging the earth, I am partially responsible for your salty, fuckboy tears of sorrow.

I apologize.


The two recent articles on Boyce Watkins stirred up a lot of controversy about a lot of things. Two things, in particular, made their way to the mailbag. The first is from some of Watkins’ adherents:

Facebook via Jeremy Mychael

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Facebook via Michael Harriot
Facebook via Michael Harriot

In the past year, I have come to understand a valuable truth about myself and one of my greatest weaknesses. Some may even call it an obsession. It is this:

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I can’t stand to see anyone take advantage of black people.

It makes me genuinely upset, and sometimes in my furor, I attack people. When I berate white people for their participation in white supremacy, some of the people who age like buttermilk left in the back seat of a Buick on a summer day (see ... there I go again) believe that it means I hate all white people. When I call out preachers who use the Bible as a means of spreading white people’s messaging while stuffing their pockets with black people’s hard-earned money, some Jesus worshippers view it as an attack on Christianity.

And, yes, when I impugn the characters of people like Umar Johnson and Boyce Watkins for using the plight of black people to enrich themselves by duping people who have fallen prey to their cult of personality, as well as to trade in homophobia, misogyny and transphobia, some see it as an attack on black people, Pan-Africanism and cultural knowledge.

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I am fine with that.

I realize that some white people believe in whiteness like some Christians believe in their pastors, like some black people believe in anyone who feeds them a fetishized bullshit narrative. Those people have faith. I will never change their minds because they believe in the people, not the ideas.

But I won’t stop trying.

Because—even when they’re black—those people are using blackness as a way to target my people. Johnson and Watkins are no different from Creflo Dollar or the Democratic Party. They mean us no good. They just want power and money.

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In the entire time I’ve written for The Root, I have never had a white person tell me what I could and couldn’t write. In fact, aside from the directive from my black editors that I couldn’t call Ray Lewis a “coon” that one time, I have never been told by anyone what I couldn’t say at The Root. No, we are not black-owned. But we are operated and run by black people and use our platform for black people. But I’m sure that when you’re typing your comments on white-owned Facebook’s platform, Mark Zuckerberg sends you a private message telling you what you can and can’t say.

So while you think you are dissing me for calling out charlatans, con men and people who scream about white supremacy only because they want the opportunity to get rich and control women, gays and transgender people, I actually take it as a compliment.

Fuck those guys.


And, finally, Boyce Watkins.

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Facebook via Boyce Watkins

Before last week, I had never followed Boyce Watkins and was only marginally aware of him. It was members of the Black Business School who pointed out this story to The Root and gave us the specifics, which means that if he feels attacked, he should confront his own customers.

However, I don’t think Watkins is upset with The Root. He is pretending to be upset because his stream of revenue has been threatened. Who else is he going to attack—the white guy and Asian guy who called him a “character” whom they use to sell “hope and emotion” as a “religion” to black people? They’re his business partners. They created and control the “educational product” he sells. Except for the email where he called their comments “rude and culturally insensitive,” he has not distanced himself from the guys who said publicly, We don’t have to educate them.” He remains in bed with people who don’t seem to give a fuck about black people.

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In fact, during this whole ordeal, I gave Watkins the benefit of the doubt, as did some of the members of his organization who spoke with us. We all believed that he was being duped, too. They figured that he probably had no idea that the medicine he was selling to black people was just a placebo. But now I think differently.

Despite the fact that he has not disproven a single fact in the story and, in fact, confirmed them all, Watkins has defended himself by telling his people that he was not given the opportunity to speak on the record:

Facebook via Boyce Watkins

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Facebook via Boyce Watkins

The truth is this:

On Friday, Feb. 2, four days before this story went live, I sent Watkins an email inviting him to speak on the record. I sent a media request to Watkins’ personal page. I sent him a message on Twitter.

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Since then, he has continued to publicly say that he was not contacted, despite the fact that we posted his company’s entire email response to the article. When he made these public statements, the petty part of me posted screenshots of my attempts to contact him:

Michael Harriot
Michael Harriot

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He repeatedly deleted them.

Watkins might not be a con man. He might be serious about helping black people achieve financial freedom. Maybe he believes that working with men who don’t care about black people is the only way he can achieve his goals. But there is one thing you can be sure of:

Boyce Watkins is a liar.