Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Same Thing

Each Friday, we clap back at readers' emails, DMs, tweets and messages. We do it because we care.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Same Thing
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante/ The Root, G-O Media

Welcome back to the weekly airing of grievances known as the Clapback Mailbag.

In previous editions of the Mailbag, we’ve spotlighted some of the most popular straw man arguments in white history. We’ve examined the “Whatabouters,” “You’re the Real Racists,” and my favorite, the “not-all-white-people” people.

This week, we’re going to focus on a different kind of bad faith argument I like to call “False Equalizers.” I’m sure you’ve met them before. These people create false equivalencies and quickly run with them, hoping you won’t notice that they pulled a fake rabbit out of their MAGA hats.


For instance...

Our first two correspondences are perfect examples of this phenomenon.

From: Adam
To: Michael Harriot

You racist chump! It’s the blacks who are the most vaccine hesitant spring the country! But you all love wearing masks and listening to your government! You all love the government. That’s prob why your dumb asses and communities have gotten worse over the past 70 years! Always voting democrat and they always fuck you all! When will you learn? But let me guess? WHITE SUPREMACY!! Hahaha when will your people learn to take responsibility for themselves? It’s blacks that are committing all these heinous, violent, random acts against people in all these big cities! FIGURE IT OUT!


Dear Adam and Dr. Oasay,

What if I told you that there wasn’t a vaccine gap?

Whenever anyone mentions how angry white people are about doing what the fuck they are supposed to do, white people love to bring up everything else except what we are talking about. If we discuss CRT, they mention BLM. If you mention BLM, they bring up FBI crime statistics. If you mention criminal justice reform, they bring up rap music.


Although I’ve become accustomed to this, there is a new false equivalence that I’m starting to notice. Whenever we mention anti-vaxxers and mask-defiant whites, they love to bring up the number of people who are unvaccinated. So last week, I went to a great authority about this—in fact, I went to three—Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Sulieman Wazeerud-Din and Dr. Sandra Ford.

Ford and Wazeerud-Din seemed more frustrated about the disparity than Fauci. Because he serves in Atlanta where the vaccine is readily available, Wazeerud-Din was more upset about it. Ford, who practices in an urban area but volunteers in the Black Belt, was upset about the misinformation but she was careful to note the lack of access in poor and rural areas. But it was Fauci who was more enlightening.


“Well, we don’t know if there is a discrepancy,” he explained. “We always knew there would be at first, because the vaccine has been available to white Americans for a much longer time.”

At first, I was shocked. It seemed like he was admitting something terrible. But after he explained the statistics, it made total sense. I just had never thought about it this way.


White people are 6o percent of the population. Black people are 12 percent of the population. But that’s not who the vaccine was available to first. It was available to older Americans. In 2016, white people who are 65-and-older made up 77.3 percent of the country. Black seniors made up only 8.9 percent of the country. At the beginning of the pandemic, the white median age in America was 39.5 and the Black median age was 32.3. The vaccine was rolled out to seniors first, so more white people were vaccinated at the beginning because there are more old white people!

But wait, there’s more.

While white people make up 60 percent of the population, they are only 50 percent of the population under 12. Black people are 14 percent. And who is not eligible for the vaccine? People under twelve.


But the biggest reason there may not be a vaccine gap, as Fauci explained, is that there are states with huge Black populations who don’t share vaccination rates by race, including Texas, California and Alabama. But that’s not why I responded to your letter, Adam. Your letter contained something else that I often think about.

Why is it that whenever anyone mentions white people or racism, you automatically attack “the Democrats?” It’s almost like you don’t believe there’s a difference between a Republican and a racist.


See Adam?

We’re more alike than you know.

This guy was very angry about equivalencies

From: Adesijuola
To: Michael Harriot

Honestly, where do you black people get off when you mention “America” describing the ugliness of white people? Number one no such thing as “America” and this is still part of Africa. Number two, when you discus racism, use the word “white” not “America” bullshit. Using “America” is a way to conceal white people’s evil. “America” did not lynch black people, raped black female slaves, engaged in brutal corporal punishment, engaged in crucifix arson (cross burning), engaged in “white store syndrome” (a white store owner that refused service to a black customer because they got enough white customers spending money), post signs “White Only,” etc. White people did this nonsense.

Again, it is cowardice to write about racism and use “America” because that’s what white people do all the time they use “America” as racist instead of white people the real racist. No such thing as a “racist” or “evil” government, people are racist, evil, etc. Honestly, you’re part of the problem because if you want to condemn, condemn in a proper way, don’t subscribe to white people’s “cowardice” and you think you’re making contribution. Talk is cheap, but at least you can be honest to upset the “cheap.”


Dear Adesijuola,

I agree with you. However, we might be talking about two different things. See, When you say America, you might be talking about the greatest country in the world that offers liberty and justice for all. When I say “America,” I mean white people. It’s easy to confuse the two, so let me try to disambiguate them by pointing out the most distinguishing characteristics of the two.

  • Your America began when Thomas Jefferson wrote: “All men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” My America began when a slaveholding rapist wrote some words that he never believed.
  • Your America is governed by a Constitution that offers—among other things—the right to vote, the right to bear arms and the right to peaceably assemble. My America is still trying to stop Black people from voting. My America kills Black people who bear arms. My America has laws against the right to peaceably assemble.
  • Your America euphemized lynchings as “justice.” My America never outlawed lynching.
  • Like most civilizations in history, your America enslaved people. My America created a unique, intergenerational, race-based form of human trafficking that relegated one group of people to human property because of the color of their skin and then enshrined it into their founding document, unlike every known civilization that existed on the face of the earth.
  • Your America ended slavery. My America never did.
  • Your America is the greatest country on earth. My country ranks in the bottom half of wealth inequality, healthcare, education and overall inequality.
  • Your country doesn’t exist anywhere in this dimension, except in the hearts and minds of white people. My country is a living, breathing thing.

I hope that helps.

And finally:

To: Michael Harriot

Havent you noticed every “race” hates you & your nigger antics. What’s that saying again? If you meet an asshole out there he’s probably an asshole, but if everyone you meet is an asshole then maybe YOURE the asshole. Explain that you greasy monkey shit. Or you’re going to not post this again because you ain’t got an answer with your nigger gorilla brain-let.


Dear Sir or Madam,

I like where you’re going with this. I agree with you, if everyone says the same thing about you, then maybe they’re right.


For instance, what if people hated you worldwide? What if they risked their lives to kill you on every continent on earth? What if people died to rid themselves of people who look like you in Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq and South Africa and North Africa and Brazil and Haiti and Cuba and India and Peru and Hawaii and Australia and every other large landmass in the world?

What if every indigenous population on this planet called you an “oppressor,” and a “colonizer,” including the original Australians, the Apache, Aztecs, the Arawak, the First Nations, the Inuits, the Israelites, the Igbo, the Laotians, the Muscogee, the Mandings, the Navajo, the Negritos, the Mongo, the Mali, the Palestinians, the Polynesians, the Seminole, the Strait Islanders and the Taino? What if they all said you raped their women and pillaged their homelands? What if everything you ever accomplished on this ball of dirt and water came from murder and theft and everyone knew it but you?


Now, if that kind of asshole thought I was an asshole, I’d consider it a compliment because it means I’m in good company. So, in conclusion, there is only one thing I could say when someone like you calls me an “asshole,” a “grease monkey” and a “nigger”:

Thank you so much.

You genuinely made my day.