The Root's Clapback Mailbag: The Cleaning Solution

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Illustration: Oscar Bustamante

I was a shitty brother.

I never abused my sisters. I just subjected them to years of mental abuse and torture. Perhaps the greatest example of my emotional terrorism was my stance on the bathroom.


Before my mother returned home from work every day, she required us to clean the entire house. My sisters and I were each responsible for our own rooms but we created a system for cleaning the bathroom. Essentially, we all took turns. My mother didn’t know about our system, nor did she care. All she cared about was that the house was clean when she came home.

One day, everyone was finished cleaning their respective rooms but the bathroom was still uncleaned and it was my turn to clean it.

“Mikey, the bathroom ain’t clean yet,” said my oldest sister, Sean.

“I know,” I replied.

“Mama will be home in 15 minutes,” my youngest sister Comelita reminded me.

“I know,” I replied.

“So when are you going to clean it?” they both asked.

“I’m not,” I answered calmly. “I don’t feel like doing it. In fact, I’ve decided to remove myself from the rotation. I’m not going to clean the bathroom anymore.”

“But if you don’t do it, we all get in trouble!” Sean said.

“I know,” I responded, while laying on the couch. “She’ll be really mad. We’ll be in a lot of trouble.”


“That’s not fair!” screamed Comelita.

“I know,” I muttered. “We’re all gonna be on punishment... Unless one of you cleans the bathroom.”


And so they did. But, what I didn’t count on, was that they would snitch to my mother.

“So, the bathroom isn’t clean?” she asked, after they recounted the entire ordeal to her as soon as she got home.


“Yes” they replied.

“So who cleaned it, then?” asked my mother.

“Me and Comelita,” answered my Sean. “We didn’t want to get in trouble.”

“Well, if it’s clean,” said my mom, “Then why do I care?”

And that’s what this week’s mailbag is about.

There were many people who believe I defended Nick Cannon’s bigoted comments or didn’t vilify him enough.


From: Ezra
To: Michael Harriot

Hi Mike,

I’ve been reading your writing and enjoying your twitter for some time. But I’m also a Jewish guy, and it struck me to see you defend Nick Cannon like you did. To be clear, I want those son-of-a-bitch cops who killed Breonna Taylor and George Floyd to go away for a long time. But I’m also happy to see Cannon canceled.

Things can get tense sometimes between Black people and Jews. I grew up around many of both. We are the two most reliable Democratic voting blocs. Mostly we get along, but fact is there is a substantial amount of racism among Jews and antisemitism among Blacks. The only people this serves are the white supremacists.

I don’t mean to equate the Jewish and Black experience in America today. It’s not the same by a long shot. But mostly, we’re on the same side. The last thing we need is to promote conspiracy theories and hatred between our groups.



From: weshleysnipes
To: Michael Harriot

I feel like this argument is a deflection. Everything in it is correct- however, Viacom didn’t (or at lease didn’t say) they fired him because of the anti-white shit. It was because of the antisemitism. And that isn’t just words, that’s stuff that actively hurts and provokes violence against Jewish people.

You quote the anti-white stuff he said but don’t quote the antisemitic things he said. That’s the big issue and framing it with the anti-white quotes and then just peppering in “making comments many classified as derogatory, racist and anti-Semitic” as background seems kind of disingenuous.

From: Skibo91
To: Michael Harriot

He cosigned the statement that “Jews are wicked” and responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on around the globe” and expressed concern that the Jews have so much power that “they” turn into “Illuminati, the Zionists, and the Rothschilds”.

Saying that “many classified [the statements as] anti-Semitic” is not just disingenuous, it’s Trump level bullshit.

From: Gaby
To: Michael Harriot

Hi Michael, I’m such an admirer of your work and have followed you for a long time. I am furious that Breonna Taylor’s murderers still walk free. I also believe that Nick Cannon’s words and ideas and avid support for Louis Farrakhan were extremely harmful, especially given his immense platform. I can support those two beliefs at the same time. I wish we lived in a country that arrested the cops who killed Breonna Taylor at the scene of the crime. I will continue to fight for their arrest. I believe people should face consequences for murdering Black women and I believe that people should face consequences for spewing anti-semitism. I’m saddened that you found Nick’s firing to be problematic to the lack of justice we’ve seen for Breonna Taylor.


Dear everyone

I know there’s no excuse for this and I accept the responsibility for my actions. I also have a confession to make:

I didn’t watch the entire Nick Cannon podcast.

I only watched the short clip that everyone was commenting on and I didn’t see anything anti-Semitic in that particular clip. It has now come to my attention that he made other remarks that were anti-Jewish and had I seen that clip...


OK, I wouldn’t have seen that clip because I would never watch an entire Nick Cannon podcast. I feel like you’re asking a lot. It’s obvious that you don’t care about me or my mental health if you ask me to watch an entire hour of Nick Cannon philosophizing about...Well, anything. I also don’t watch episodes of Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump press conferences or sermons of any kind. I can’t take it. And here is why:

I believe all religions are stupid, bigoted and promote violence.

I was reluctant to include Yakub’s history in this article because, as insane as it sounds, the belief that an evil scientist created white people in a cave in the Caucus mountains is as insane as the belief that humans were created in a botanical garden near the suburbs of Eden. I don’t believe that the white man is the Devil any more than I believe the Devil was a choir director who was kicked out of heaven by God’s bouncers.


If you believe in the tenets of the Hebrew Israelites, you have to believe that the “fake jews” are evil people who control the banks, the media and the world. If you believe in the tenets of Judaism, you have to believe that “the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” The man who rescued the Jews from slavery also gave these specific instructions to the chosen people of God:

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;

And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:

Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.


I believe what Nick Cannon said was dangerous because I believe all religion is dangerous.

To be clear, Nick’s words were anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish. I wasn’t defending him. I wasn’t even excusing his words. I was intentionally avoiding the religious aspect of his rant because I was reluctant to wade into the morass of a conversation about religion and distract from a conversation about race. I do think Nick’s words could inspire hate against a certain group of people as much as any pastor, zealot or politician’s words could be used to inspire hate against a group of people. That’s what religion does.


If we ascribe the good aspects of religion to people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, then we must also acknowledge that hate and bigotry is buried in the tenets of all religions.

Even Jesus went on a rant on his podcast during the “Sermon on the Mount” episode. Now, most people quote the “meek shall inherit the earth part” and never ask where the non-meek people would go. But I know. We can’t forget that Jesus read the laws of the prophet Moses and said:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.


I’m sure he didn’t get canceled, But I confess...

I didn’t read the whole thing.

And sometimes I promote racism myself:


So here’s the thing:

I’ve never made a rap video or used crack cocaine but I am a “black voter.” I am part of the “black community.” So I don’t object when people say “black people vote for Democrats” because I know the large percentage of black people did. Even though I voted for Lenora B. Fulani in the 1992 election, I don’t say “not all black people” when someone points out that Bill Clinton won the black vote.


But if I said “white people voted for Trump,” a white person always gets offended even though the majority of white voters voted for Trump. If I said that white people like cocaine and meth, white people would think that was racist even though white people are twice as likely to use cocaine during their lives as black people. A white person is three times more likely to use crystal meth than a black person is to commit a crime. I couldn’t find the statistics but I bet that most black people have never made a rap video.

So why are you upset when I point out these facts?

I know why.

Because you’re not used to it.

One of the privileges that whiteness affords is being an individual. You only have to answer for your actions. Now, many would say that this is a good thing that should be extended to all races.


I don’t.

I wouldn’t care if white people see me as a thugged-out, fatherless scoundrel who should work on fixing black-on-black crime if white people accepted the responsibility of racism, white supremacy and all the harmful things that white people do. I’d be willing to go oversee the production of all hip-hop music if white people agreed to tear down all Confederate flags.


I’d broker an agreement between the Crips and the Bloods if white people stopped Mitch McConnell and Brian Kemp. I’d make every black father marry their child’s mother if white people stopped white woman from calling the cops on black people. I promise I would enroll all the dope boys in college if you made the education system fair. I’d stop black-on-black violence if you equalized the criminal justice system.

But instead of accepting responsibility for their actions, white people would rather blame everyone else for America’s problems as if they didn’t build this system, write the laws, enforce the rules and mete out punishment. They never take ownership of their actions but if a black person marches, protests, or fights against the system they built, all of a sudden it’s black people collectively who are ruining “their country.”


That is the privilege of individuality.

White people don’t have to clean up the mess they created.

And that’s why white people don’t care.


Foxstar loves Bashcraft

That’s because you didn’t call him a nigger at least thirty times and threaten to kill him personally and shit on his body. And if you had, there would -still- be folks who think you went easy on him. I knew from the jump when you posted the article that no matter how forcefully you denounced him, it would not be enough.

I was the elder child, but I couldn’t do that to my sister. She had enough to deal with growing up, with me being a brooding teen and all. Well that and she never forgets a slight done to her.

They only care when they are reminded that them and their bastard forefathers created this mess.

It’s like salt in the wounds, every time anyone on the Root and elsewhere points at white folks and reminds them “You had a part to play in this”, we see the grey trolls squirm their oily asses from under their bridges and start bitching about how unfair it is and how the Root never reports on black on white crime or CHICAGO, or whatever bullshit talking point they picked up from the Blaze, Breitbart or that oxy popping soon to be dead asshole who made his fortune allowing white folks to scream over the airways for many years.

Outside of that, as long as they can continue to think the worst of them is better then a self made bootstraps whipping rich black man, they don’t care. And that’s why the underlining moral rot in America’s bones will remain and spread.