The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: The Gray Area

Oscar Bustamante/GMG/The Root
Oscar Bustamante/GMG/The Root
Clapback MailbagEach Friday, we select the best (or worst) emails, tweets, DMs and comments from our readers and respond to them in the The Root's Clapback Mailbag.

I want to dedicate this mailbag to my hangover. I think someone slipped a headache into my drink last night at The Root 100 gala. It’s either a hangover or I have sudden-onset brain cancer. That’s not a thing, is it?


Or maybe it was Social Media Editor Corey Townsend screaming the lyrics to Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” at me. Can I call the police? I’m pretty sure that’s a hate crime. Or terrorism. Or white supremacy.

Anyway, there are many people who doubt the veracity of some of the mailbag letters because they apparently don’t think people could be so shitty in real life. There are some who think the hate letters, emails and tweets we receive are from people who are trolling because they want to be featured in the mailbag. Some people even think we fabricate the letters and this whole “mailbag” thing is a ruse.

Nah, nigga. This shit is real.

In fact, this week, instead of hate mail, let’s just look at some actual comments from the site.


This is an actual comment “Madril” left on a story about a café that refused to give candy to black kids on Halloween:

Some of you will take this the wrong way because AA or Black Americans have been conditioned to be the victim in America. It is understandable that the psychological damage due to slavery, Jim Crow and Segregation still pervades the mind of many African Americans. Moreover, the Black Elites who are taking their cues from the White Liberal Elite and Democratic Leadership are also continuing to push the premise of Black Victimization and White Supremacy. The reality is that the cafe has the right not to give Black kids candy. It is their cafe. The same way you have the right to open a cage next door that will compete against this “racist cafe.” Or the right not to shop at that cafe. The only way to gain your respect is to build your own and stop complaining about racism. The fact is there are no government institutions in the USA in 2017 that will block African American or Black Americans from starting a competing cafe or any other business for that matter. Yes there are individual people who are racists, but that will never change.What needs to change is the victim attitude and playing the race card. The race card is lame and no one is listening or cares cause our community is not respected. America is the greatest country for economic opportunity and mobility. Plan and work harder and smarter.



I don’t know how to tell you this in a tactful way, so I will just go ahead and say it because you aren’t aware of the truth behind this statement:

White people are evil.

After reading your bullshit reasoned explanation, I was hesitant about making such a broad generalization. I even deleted and rewrote the sentence a few times. Then I realized that someone had to tell Madril. Maybe it should be me.


Before you get upset about me painting white people with such a broad brush, I want you to know that I don’t think all white people are evil. According to my rough calculations, the percentage of evil white people is about the same as the ratio of poisonous snakes or venomous spiders to their respective populations overall. Now, I could take a course in herpetology and learn how to differentiate the killer snakes from the harmless ones, but just to be safe, I don’t fuck with snakes.

I know you don’t want to think your people are evil, Madril. Neither do I. At first I tried to convince myself that maybe it was just Madril. Maybe Satan ejaculated into a shitbag of a human being who just happened to be ovulating, and 13 months later, out popped Madril (I think there is a longer gestation period for tiny pieces of toilet asswipe clotted with dried remnants of day-old diarrhea manifested in human form. I’m pretty sure I read that in a medical journal), but then I thought, “Nah ... it’s white people.”


It’s not your fault, Madril. You were enabled by your evil peers. I doubt that you are even aware of your evilness. In fact, I’m pretty sure of it. I’m not shocked that you actually sat down and wrote a letter that used free-market economics to rationalize literally taking candy from babies—any evil individual could do that. But you sent it to someone, Madril! The fact that you released it into the wild for all the world to see is proof that your people have normalized it until you are unaware of how vile you are.

Even though you are a trash human being, don’t despair. There is always room in this world for demons like you. I mean, it was your people who came up with the idea to combine two of the most despicable activities and ruin the world by simultaneously raping and pillaging. You used white-peopleing economics to justify colonization, genocide and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, so why not use it to explain how you fucked over babies who just wanted to trick-or-treat?


So go out there and keep shitting on toddlers, Madril. Keep on tricking. Keep on injecting poison into the world.

Make your people proud.

This comment from “SweetJamesJones” is from The Root staffer Danielle Young’s (I don’t know her title, but I think it’s either “dope person” or “executive in charge of making fun of that one time Michael Harriot had on too much lip balm”) brave article this week about her experience with famous men:

As a guy, I just want to say that this is tough. I want to be clear that the guys who did this stuff was wrong, but men are left in a Catch-22. I’m sure I will be eviscerated, but here goes the reasoning.

First, a lot of women love that type of attention. They feel it is complimentary, and it makes them feel wanted. Maybe all women are uncomfortable and not saying anything, but that’s highly unlikely.

Secondly, men have to pursue women, but there are no guidelines to doing so. All women have a different tolerance for flirting and contact. If a guy never makes an advance, he never gets a woman. If he comes in weak and respectful, some women will hate that. If he comes on strong, some women will see it as harrassment.

As a guy, I’m perplexed as to what to do as some women would feel uncomfortable if you simply ask them on a date. Instead of simply calling out these guys, can people actually come up with clear direction on how guys should act.

Finally, Weinstein and others were clearly wrong. I am not defending that, but this seems like they simply found you attractive and wanted a chance. Its in a grey area.



You know how I just eviscerated Madril a few seconds ago? Well, after careful consideration, in light of the revelations about Jesse Jackson, John Singleton, Harvey Weinstein, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and, now, Louis C.K., I think I need to say this:

Men are trash.

I know women say that shit all the time as if it were a joke, but they have no idea the percentage of men who are shit bags who should be tossed on the trash heap of humanity. We ain’t shit. None of us. Myself included.


Yep, I ain’t shit, either, SweetJamesJones. If I wasn’t a piece of human garbage, my knuckles would be bleeding from punching motherfuckers like you in their fuckboy mouths. When I read about people like Bill Cosby, R. Kelly or Harvey Weinstein, I’m not even shocked, because every man knows multiple other nonfamous men who do the same thing (minus the asking women if they can masturbate in front of them. That’s strictly a white-boy thing). But we don’t say shit because we aren’t shit.

So you’re saying men don’t know where to draw the line for sexual harassment because some women like it? What kind of idiotic statement is that? There is a small minority of people who like everything, SweetShitJones. I know a woman who likes ketchup on her eggs, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an atrocity. I once saw heard about a documentary on this streaming site called Pornhub about a man who became sexually excited from women defecating on him. He liked it. So would it be OK if a woman shit in your mouth without asking you, SweetJamesJones?


James, you say there are no guidelines to pursuing women. But there are. I’ll tell you where the line is:

Stop. Being. White. People.

Sexism is just like racism, James. Only white people and toxic motherfuckers like you think in those selfish terms of not giving a damn about how anyone feels as long as you can ejaculate at the end of the encounter. You can’t rape and enslave whole human beings because you want to have an orgasm or own a plantation, James. That’s evil, man. There is just no other way to say it.


You know what the fucked-up thing is, James?

I believe you don’t know where the line is. I believe you were being sincere. I believe Madril was being sincere. Madril doesn’t feel like he hates black people, and you don’t believe you hate women. At least Madril is just taking literal candy.


But just as Madril believes racism is a byproduct of normal society, you believe sexual harassment is a byproduct of your inherent male right to stick your dick into a moist hole—all other humans be damned. The line is you, James. You are already across it because you think there is actually a line where you can almost sexually harass someone, but not quite!

Goddamn, man, what the fuck is wrong with you?

What the fuck is wrong with us?

We ain’t shit.

Damn, damn, damn, James.

I’m out.

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



That SweetJamesJones comment is just so much misogyny and insanity to unpack. Couldn’t believe it when I read it (figure of speech). And then the follow ups...