Oscar Bustamante/GMG/The Root

Some debate has emerged about The Root’s Clapback Mailbag that should be settled by the readers. Since this is for you, (partially) by you, we need you to decide on a jingle for our Friday mailbag.

Two people on The Root (amazingly, independent of each other) revealed that they read it humming the name to the tune of the Beatles “Good Day Sunshine”; here’s the link. I had to Google that shit, too. Another staffer admits she does the “Let’s go Auburn!” [clap clap clap clap] cheer when she opens the mailbag. Before I begin, I rap, “Ain’t no clapback like a mailbag clapback ’cause a mailbag clapback gon’ hurt!” But I’m old school ...


Anyway, Yesha Callahan, deputy managing editor, insists that I write an opening for this every week. Now let’s read some mail!

From: Scott

Subject: dishonest columnist

Jason Johnson spewed lies and hate about Toys R Us and the Republican Party. He should be ashamed of himself.


Thanks for the tip, Scott. You bring up an interesting point that we should discuss. We at The Root are often accused of lying. It never turns out to be true.


The reason for this is that we have a staff of copy editors, all black women, who are known for not ever—and I will use the professional, inside-industry term here—“letting shit slide.” They won’t allow half-stepping or slipping, Scott.

Last Friday evening, while I was supposed to be headed to a party, I had to engage in a lengthy discussion about which percentage of the population fell below a 74 IQ because one of the editors felt that the info I used (from Time magazine, mind you) was too high. She was right.

They are that detailed, Scott. Sometimes (and I swear this is true) they will change something I write, and I will tell them that the statement was supposed to be a joke. And they will say, “But it is not true ... and it is not that funny. They are usually right.


I only point this out to say that I read Jason Johnson’s piece, and while you may disagree with some of his opinions, I would suggest to any reader who thinks Jason—or any writer here—is blatantly lying, we don’t mind you sending a letter. We just ask that you answer one question:

Where is the lie?

Damn, I wish I had a clapping emoji for that last sentence.

Nah, Teresa would probably delete it anyway and send me a message explaining, “But Michael, no one was actually clapping.”


From: joaks
Subject: Obutthole
To: Anne Brangin



Now.... I’M waiting..... tic...toc....tic....toc. ..

Yeah....there it is.. I JUST HEARD YOU DROP THAT RACE CARD...



Dear Joaks,

Nigga, what?

Name: Rbye
Subject: Black white

Black lives matter haha. Im half black and white. And find tjat phrase extremely offensive. Nigger


And in a follow-up email, Rbye wrote:

Get over it. Us whites yes you can say white are not all the same as you blacks are not all the same. If you really believe all the nonsense you write wow you have got to be the most racist i know. I am mixed black mom white dad. And all this racism today is total bs! Does it exist yes. But everything i read feom you i just shake my head like wow what did the white man do to you for you to hate him soooo much?? Wheres the love today. Its all about greed and you owe me. It seems you have a lot to learn about life. I really think that you dont believe everything you write and just do it mostly for fame or money. I grew up very poor and was picked on by black kids everyday for hanging around white kids. Sorry i just had more in common with them. The blacks all wanted to cut class smoke weed and just didnt care. Im not about that. Anyway i continu to read ur racist comments on a daily basis and hope one day you actually find love. Good luck my black man. White/black man out.

You say you’re black, Rbye, but I don’t believe you—you need more people.

But I would like to thank you, Rbye, for one thing: I’ve always wondered why racists have terrible grammar. I always thought hate was a birth defect that prevents the ability to love, unite or use punctuation marks. I thought racists were allergic to commas and capital letters, but now I understand: You were beaten up and picked on by black people in school! It makes so much sense now. It explains why you can’t understand history, English, or even the simple science of stuff like genetics and climate change.


Thank you, Rbye! You are a revelation!

Next is a series of Twitter direct messages that may be the greatest Clapback Mailbag messages of all time. They are from one single person named Jason.


On Sept. 26 at 3:34 p.m., he wrote this:

I hear we whites our so awful all the time why don’t you move where you will have a good life where black people run gov. #starvation machetes and I will move where whites do

I didn’t respond because nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, irks a racist more than ignoring them. At 3:39 p.m., he added this:

Oh you want to exploit the white culture with it’s technology, law and health care where a black man can make millions but still act like a spoiled brat #cultural appropiation, Liberia here I come

I’ll wait for your response

Come on, Jason. Why would you take credit for any of that? You haven’t made a law or built a computer. You can’t even build a grammatically correct sentence! But he’s white, so ... at 3:50 p.m., he added this:

Oh remember when the great black mandela took over, things got way better ha why dont you move weré you can be happy #one ticket going to liberia


Is Mandela supposed to be my uncle or something? When white people tell you to go back to Africa, why do they always choose the shitty countries, but they get to go back to the good ones? No one ever tells you to go to Burkina Faso or Namibia and suggests that they go back to Bosnia or Chechnya. Fun fact: I’ve lived in England. It’s pretty shitty. I see why white people left. Also, is anyone besides me confused with Jason’s arbitrary use of hashtags? He continued at 4:06 p.m.:

One more thing and then i await response there’s a reason africans dont like African americans because they lack perspective you could be in Rwanda then how would life be

At 5:55 p.m., I responded, “Nothing brightens my day like a healthy dose of ‘Go Back to Africa.’ Thanks for allowing me in your country all these years!”


At 5:58 p.m., he responded:

Once again missing point I will take my cracker ass back to england which one of us is going to be giving up more#perspective

No Jason, don’t go! We were having so much fun!

At 11:06 p.m., he wrote this:

I’m still waiting for answer who would be worse off staying in our ancestral homelands me in western europe or you in africa there im done with my cracker harassment you’ll never answer cause you would have to be grateful for once#needs to whine, always Liberia, drop the mic


I want to tell Jason that there is no place that “his people” haven’t ruined. Even Antarctica. Then I remembered someone telling me about this place called “heaven” (there can’t be white people there, right?), but I was interrupted by Jason at 11:18 p.m.:

I would had had the magna carta you would have had starvation, warlords and machetes there now enough of my cracker harassment, really this time, cause you’ll never answer previous question maybe one day you’ll educate yourself in historical context and be grateful. #cant think abstractly, Liberians will trade places with you, no nation is perfect

“Had had.” It hurts my stomach, too. Not the racism. The grammar. I have a friend who told me that her boyfriend cheated on her, but they remained friends. One day, he asked her to edit his résumé and she agreed. To get back in her good graces, he created a full résumé and cover letter on his qualifications to be her boyfriend and why she should get back with him. She asked me what she should do. I suggested that she take a red pen, make all the corrections and give it back to him without comment.


That’s what I want to do with Jason, but at 12:54 a.m., he wrote this:

I’m still waiting for response who would be better off without america never existing western european me or African you#too funny, never answer, intellectual dishonesty, gratitude not a black trait requires abstract thinking, appropriating white culture food supply, technology, health care, government by law

The next day, I imagine Jason masturbated to a photo of the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee (or an episode of Dukes of Hazzard). And he must not have a job, because at 11:15 a.m., he wrote this:

Ive decided to keep texting you until I get an answer or blocked which country ran by blacks would be better for you , between western european me and African you who would be worse off in our homelands if america didn’t exist #black gratitude a myth requires abstract thinking


He cut and pasted the same message at 7:32 p.m., and then at 1:33 a.m. he sent me a LeBron James tweet. (Bruh, don’t ask me. I’m guessing crystal meth. Or toxic whiteness. Either one.) He wrote:

Please stop exploiting my white culture and appropriating it by using medicine we created, technology we invented, an economy we structured, bitching using the laws we constructed like constitution, #please answer or publish my harassment in the root #gratitude requires abstract thinking the black mind can’t do


Then, at 1:48 a.m. (yes, this motherfucker has been at it for four days! I don’t even think this is a real person anymore. I’m starting to think this is one of those Russian bots that stole the election. I kinda admire how they programmed hate into their algorithm and even got the nuances of the racist’s tendency to lack grammatical skills), Jason wrote this:

Ive decided to make you a hobby, this country as is much yours as it is mine, I truly believe that, but if we’re both on a boat sent back to our ancestral homelands whose life will suffer more, please answer, so I can get a new hobby

OK, Jason. Here’s my response:

Jason, the epitome of racism and privilege is white people thinking they own enough of this country to suggest anyone go anywhere or that they created any medicine, technology or civilization when the truth is that they are just compilers of knowledge from their historic need to wander the earth raping, killing and stealing from black, brown and yellow people. Here’s what I would choose, Jason ...


Damn it, I’m out of time!

See you next week!

(Walks off singing.) “Ain’t no clapback like a mailbag clapback ... ”