The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Reverse Clapbacks

Illustration for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Reverse Clapbacks
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante

Answering emails, tweets and DMs from pissed-off readers can take a huge toll on a person’s psyche, but what about me? Who’s there for me when I need a response? Who can I run to, to fill this empty space with laughter? Who can I run to, when I need love?

Advertisement

Our readers, that’s who.

Today, I’ve selected a few emails that answered some of my burning questions about how white people could stop racism.

Advertisement

This Mailbag is about self-care.


Dear readers,

I wrote an article this week called “George Floyd Is Dead Because America Is a Racist Country.”

The fact that systemic racism exists is not up for debate. The data shows it exists in the criminal justice system, in education, in employment practices, in the financial industry and in every measurable segment of American life.

After writing the piece, I wondered what kind of solutions white people would offer to fix this. Perhaps the easiest solution would be to try to end systemic racism in America. Then, white people could easily show that they are on the side of right and good for the first time since they stepped foot on this continent.

Advertisement

But that is a monumental task that involves accepting that they live in a racist country. Are white people willing to do that?

Of course, a dumb person would tell me to “Go back to Africa,” which would be akin to a climatologist saying: “If you’re so worried about global warming, why don’t you just move to another planet?” The only reason someone would tell a Black person to leave the country they helped build is that they preferred racism and white supremacy to Black people’s existence.

Advertisement

What kind of person would make such a suggestion?

A racist person, that’s who.

So what kind of solutions would you offer?

From: Who Cares
To: Michael Harriot

Just a few comments: That drugged up worthless piece of shit (Floyd) was again committing a crime deserved death. Niggers roam the streets like wild animals killing and should be put down like a rabbet dog There are planes and boats leaving this country everyday use one. FUCK YOU and all worthless niggers that roam this planet.

From: Michael
To: Michael Harriot

If America is a racist country, why not consider leaving the racist country?

Blacks perform economically better in US than any other country in the world. This isn’t about racism, this is about promoting a white liberal ideology, using the plight of black people, to fundamentally alter the systems of the US. Be honest about your white liberal driven agenda. You’re being used. George Floyd is being used by globalist authoritarian elites.

From: Jonathan
To: Michael
Subject: Leave the country coward

Really tired of scumbags like you trying to divide America with your race baiting bullshit. You are a faggot, a coward, and a fucking pedophile. Please do the world a favor and kill yourself scumbag

Advertisement

Dear readers,

Sometimes people don’t believe me when I talk about racism.

White people assume racism and white supremacy are only exhibited through hate. When I focus on systemic issues, they dismiss them because, in white people’s minds, that doesn’t prove their version of racism exists. Knowing that people don’t often publicly share their racial animus, they can easily claim it doesn’t exist.

Advertisement

If only there was a way for me to prove that these people are all around us, working as teachers, police officers, judges and politicians, they might understand what I mean. It’s easy to deny that white people are racist when your definition of racism is a person screaming the n-word while admitting that they want to wipe you off the face of the Earth.

What do you think?

From: Sarah
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: I love Black cock

Nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger nog. You’re a disease


Dear readers,

I’m beginning to doubt myself.

At first, I thought racism was caused by white people, but now I’m not so sure. I often receive letters from white people explaining that white supremacy is caused by Black people doing the same things that white people do but suffering worse consequences.

Advertisement

For instance, no one suggests that passing counterfeit money should be legal, they simply imply that George Floyd shouldn’t have died because of it. No one argues that Black people should be able to resist arrest, just that it isn’t a capital offense. No one thinks that cops shouldn’t be able to perform traffic stops, just that they shouldn’t be able to disproportionately stop Black drivers.

And what about the Black people who have done nothing wrong? Should Philando Castile not have the right to legally carry a weapon? Should Trayvon Martin not be allowed to walk in his own neighborhood without being stopped by a white man? Should Botham Jean not have been in his own home?

Advertisement

If racism didn’t kill George Floyd, what did?

But let’s say all of these people are wrong. Let’s say the 95 percent of Black people who don’t commit a crime should bear the burden of the 5 percent who do. Then shouldn’t the vast majority of white people accept the responsibility of white supremacy, even if a small number of white people are racist? Doesn’t that make racism the fault of all white people? Shouldn’t white people get their houses in order?

Advertisement

If the majority of Black people aren’t criminals but still bear the responsibility for all the other negro scoundrels, then doesn’t that make America a racist country? If white people don’t bear the responsibility for their fellow Caucasians, then doesn’t that disparity in how we treat white people prove that America is a racist country?

Could it possibly be true that all the generations of Black people who ever lived in America were dumb, lowlife scoundrels who couldn’t understand that their own actions cause white people to fuck them over?

Advertisement

Or could it be that white people, who have fucked over every generation of Black people in America, can continue to blame Black people because America is a racist country?

From: Gary
To: Michael Harriot

Your article is insane, maybe blacks need to get their house in order before you start blaming all their problems on whites. What a terrible attitude and take on life you have, it’s very disturbing.

From: Andrew
To: Michael Harriot

Floyd is dead because he was a criminal. If he didn’t try to pass that counterfeit 20 dollar bill he alive. you may have grown up in a racist family but i didn’t. at what point to blacks take responsibility for there action? what don’t you write a store on the inner cities and how there are a war zone blacks killing black . when was the last time a school or community center was build. you need to hold the Dems responsible for the conditions of the inner cites. You’re an ass hole

From: Ross
To Michael Harriot

How about doing some real research instead of using lies and half truths, and your hatred and bigotry. America’s racial problem is 75% caused by Blacks - not due to their skin colour, but their entitled, bigoted, loud, obnoxious, arrogant and violent BEHAVIOUR!!! Simple as that. If you understood statitics you would recognise Whites as the least racist people and Blacks the most - many studies support this. Do you realise Whites are shot and killed by police at twice the Black rate while committing a crime? Of course not, you ignorant hypocrite.

Advertisement

Dear readers,

Those letters weren’t good enough.

I need something totally unhinged. Maybe something that agrees with every point I make but still denies racism. I need it to be batshit crazy. I need it to be racist but it also needs to insist that I’m the real racist.

Advertisement

While you’re at it, can someone blame racism on:

  • Obama
  • The Democrats
  • Liberals
  • Black criminality
  • Black people being lazy
  • The race card
  • Black people pointing out racism

Come on guys, I want something crazy as fuck that tells me to take responsibility for the actions of all Black people while not accepting any of the responsibility for white people’s actions. Also, just for good measure, could it tell me to leave the country as if white people own it?

Advertisement

I know we’ve already talked about that part, but white people telling Black people to leave the country while complaining about what’s wrong with the country is one of my favorite things.

Also, if you can misspell a bunch of words, that would be cool.

From: Carl B
To: Michael Harriot

Well, let me say this about that:

“Today, you will likely read, see and hear reminiscences about Floyd’s death. There will be stories about legislation, police brutality and the criminal justice system, but none of that killed George Floyd. He was not called the n-word. He wasn’t targeted by a white supremacist mob. He was not lynched. A man killed George Floyd. Racism killed George Floyd.”

BULLSHIT! Pushing the EASY button, again, eh Mike?

Let’s see...passing counterfeit currency? Believe that’s a misdemeanor. Worthy of killing someone? No. All pumped up on drugs and/or alcohol? Worthy of killing someone? No again. However, if good Ole George got back behind the wheel of his car...HE MIGHT HAVE KILLED SOMEONE ELSE! But let’s not talk about that...’cause that doesn’t fit (like so many of your kind writing about this) YOUR NARRATIVE! And by your own accounting, Ole George led a model life...free of drugs and other habits. NOT! But let’s not dwell on that...’cause once again...THAT doesn’t fit your narrative!

The police did their job. Perhaps the result was extreme. Perhaps they did someone else a favor and saved THEIR life. But if someone else were killed as a result of Ole George driving off to whatever his next destination was...would you still be writing about a racist America? I think not! Again...doesn’t fit your narrative. But then, “you guys” don’t like to dwell on the facts leading up to this incident. Btw...if the a person can say...”I can’t breathe”, then he must be getting air into his lungs to speak. No, I’ll bet you never considered that. Was too easy to blame the white cop. And what if instead of Derek Chauvin...it was a black cop? What then? You wouldn’t have a story to write about.

“Still, George Floyd is dead because he was a Black man in America. And if America was not a racist country, George Floyd would be alive.”

Okay Mike...how many times are you going to beat this like a dead horse? Won’t bring George back. And if you’re right about racism in America...you’re not going to change that either. Certainly, not after getting paid to pound out a few words to be published.

“If we were better people, he might still be living and breathing.”

You’re up to #3 now.

“If America was not a racist country, George Floyd would be alive.”

That makes the 4th time.

“Had George Floyd done nothing but be white, he would have been living in the second-highest ranked state for opportunity, according to U.S. News.

Now you’re making assumptions. Not cool. And there’s no way to prove your last statement. Let’s just call this 5 times now. Do I hear 6?

“George Floyd could not outrun the color of his skin. He could not escape racism. George Floyd could not survive this white supremacist lynch mob called America.”

Maybe not. But then, Ole George could have turned himself around and tried to be a model citizen...instead of blaming everyone else for his lot in life...JUST AS YOU”RE DOING NOW!

After more than a year, I’m tired of hearing all the rhetoric about racism...systemic or otherwise. I’m tired of the you and your fellow black people crying about how poor you have it. I’m tired of YOU PEOPLE playing the “race card” whenever it suits YOUR AGENDA! Hate to tell you...I gave at the office long ago. I bare no black guilt...not now, not ever. Because you and your kind just don’t appreciate that.

For more then 55 years, white America has been supporting black America. Not only millions of dollar...but billions and more likely TRILLIONS of dollars. These were programs for black housing, education, welfare, health care...oh, let’s not forget free phones, free computers, free cable and internet. And the worst part...it’s not and never is...enough! Lucky for you, I can’t tell the IRS where to allocate my tax dollars. If you and your kind want respect...learn to act respectably! If you and your kind want to be trusted...learn to act responsibly. But above all else, man up and stop pointing the finger at everybody else and claim they are responsible for your lot in life!

Want to know where racism in America starts Mike? Go home and look inthe mirror. One of the more racist people in this country will be looking right back at YOU! Call it frustration...call it jealousy... call it whatever you want...why do you feel the rest of America owes you and other blacks something...OR...why does everything else need to be bought down to the black level? You don’t see/hear about white mobs out destroying public or private property. You don’t see/hear about white people tearing down statues or paintings of America’s historical figures (right or wrong). So you tell me...WHY is that you and your kind need to tear down something others worked hard for? Oh wait...maybe THAT’s the operative word here...WORK! I worked hard to get where I am today. I don’t take kindly to giving away my hard effort to someone that refuses to put forth ANY effort...equal or otherwise. Why can’t you and your people do the same? Uh, should we mark that as...laziness? Of course, our illustrious government hasn’t helped here. They took pity on all those poor black souls and showered them with benefits and welfare...which it turns out...was worth MORE than having to work. And once on the government payout system...why buck that? Keep voting those fat bastards into office so the flow of benefits continues! Guess what? The whites are jealous now.

Well, thanks to one of our previous presidents, he said that all whites are racists. Talk about calling the kettle black. Oboma and his wife WERE the biggest racists during his tenure in office. He was the “The Great Divider”! He certainly didn’t do anything to bring peoples together. But he’s not the only one. There’s people like Aunt Maxy Waters. Yeah, this woman is a racist to the core. Someone ought to take this big mouth out behind the capitol building and slap the black off of her. And now, you’re following in Oboma’s foot steps. Time for you to take off your Oboma rose-colored hope ‘n change glasses with the side blinders and see the world for what it is. If America is racist...it turned out that way at your hands. Instead of being the cause of the problem...try something different...try being part of the solution. Newsflash...calling America racist is NOT the solution! You know, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you don’t like America...you’re welcome to leave.

I do my best to try and treat others as I’d like them to treat me. However, if you’re going to treat me like dirt and accuse me of things I’m not responsible for (my color notwithstanding)...I’m going to come out swinging. I have not and don’t consider myself to be a racist. Thanks to people like you and your anointed Oboma...I’M WILLING TO LEARN! But above all else, quit phuquing blaming others, whites in particular, for your own failings. Get it? No, I don’t think you’re capable of understanding that.

Good luck in your life. Based on your writings...you’re going to need it. Carl B.

Advertisement

Damn, this Clapback Mailbag was a failure.

I guess white people can’t admit when they’re wrong. Or maybe I’m still pushing my anti-white agenda. If only there was someone who was affected by my hatred of white people that could explain why facts are important.

Advertisement

Probably not.

White people hate The Root.

From: Eleanor
To: Michael Harriot

Dear Mr. Harriot, I’m going to make my mea culpa here: I’m a moron. I’ve been a longtime fan of your writings, enjoying your biting humor and wit. Despite that, I thought your view of my fellow whites was too pessimistic. I said to myself, “Well, he’s dealt with racist white people being racist to him his entire life, so of course he’s going to be pessimistic.” Turns out, I don’t know shit.

What causes me to say this is your recent article, “It Turns Out, All Those ‘Woke’ White Allies Were Lying”. See, I thought that you were just a bit too pessimistic about whites. The problem was that I was way too optimistic. I now officially retire the “at least most of us white people mean well” crap. It seems that right now, maybe a plurality of white people have complete, partial, or performative support for BLM. I have no idea what amount goes in what group; if we’re lucky, at least a majority of that plurality has at least a bit of genuine support for black rights.

But I’m not going to nail down any guesses as to what those numbers are. I should stop pretending to know shit, and actually listen to people (like you) who ACTUALLY know shit. AKA, black people. I honestly wish I could go back to my fantasyland of believing in my fellow whites, and perhaps I will despite this new understanding. To be honest, seeing how deluded and arrogant I am has shaken my trust in my rationality as well, so I can’t say that I fully trust myself to maintain this more reasonable outlook. Regardless, I am sorry to have doubted you whatsoever, and I will, as always, continue to read your fine work. Thank you.

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

DISCUSSION

thedamesgotmoxie
LaRockyMay!

I have mentioned this before and I will keep mentioning it; I, unbeknownst to me once tried to pay for some Altoids with a fake twenty.

I was meeting co-workers, our clients and contractors after work for drinks and I only had plastic on me, so I grabbed some “mad money” from the ATM to buy some mints and pay for my cab ride home.

When I attempted to pay for the mints with some of the cash, the clerk told me the bill was fake. I was incredulous of course, I had just gotten the money from the ATM! Surely there are safeguards in place that allows ATM’s to recognize fake money (answer: not always).

The clerk pulled a real twenty from the till and had me feel each one (there was a marked difference), he then used the counterfeiting pen and yup....fake.

And you know what the clerk did? He gave it back to me. I kinda had to plead with him to let me use a credit card even though I was below the store’s minimum (y’all, I’m really into some Altoids ).

I should mention that at the time I was working for a company that was contracted to manage the critical facilities for a well-known bank and the ATM I used was that of said client.

I met up with the group, told them what happened...and lawd a mercy...all hell done broke loose...calls were made up and down the chain within both companies, to the Secret Service, the SFPD and the FBI; all ATM’s were shut down. In short, it was a bit of a mess...OK it was a huge fucking mess.

The next day the we met with corporate security, the Secret Service, SFPD and the FBI; and you know what the folks from these agencies did to me? Well I tell you they didn’t do: they didn’t put their fucking knees on my neck.

As a matter of fact, it became a running joke; every time I would see one of those folks, I would kid them about giving me my money and they would tease me about not having it on them. AND then they had “reimbursing RockyMay!” ceremony when I was reimbursed.

And I don’t mean to diss George Floyd or his partners, but counterfeiting is a REEEEALLY sophisticated operation, quite frankly it’s fascinating; the equipment and tools are fucking expensive as hell, and a sophisticated level of expertise is needed in the enterprise.

All you reading this should be aware that there’s more than a pretty good chance that at least once in your lifetimes you have unknowingly received counterfeit money and and unwittingly used it. What happened to George Floyd could happen to you; in this instance the color may not protect you.

NO ONE deserves to die over fake money or a busted brake light or an expired registration, etc..