The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: The Racism Vaccine

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: The Racism Vaccine
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/GMG)

Today’s mailbag only contains two pieces of mail. I just wanted to point that out up front before someone asks for their money back.


It’s not because we’re running low on hate mail. It’s because we are running low on new kinds of hate mail. In the two years that we have been responding to emails, tweets, DMs and comments, we have addressed a lot of topics. Since we don’t get any original racist thoughts, we can only assume one thing:

We cured racism.

This doesn’t mean that racism no longer exists because, unfortunately, stupid people still exist. For example, even though scientists developed a vaccine for measles, there are still a few idiots who refuse to get their kids vaccinated for fear they might end up with the government-concocted superbug called Wypipoburculis. Similarly, The Clapback Mailbag has figured out a cure for racism, but we still get letters addressing the same four or five topics.

We know the cure, but it’s up to you to make sure your friends and neighbors read The Root, and immunize themselves against racism.

And, of course ...

You’re welcome.

I really had to think back to remember what this first letter is referring to. The subject line didn’t jar my memory until someone reminded me of this:

From: Libertarian Wally
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: The clip clearly shows that the man is being attacked by a pack of foam-mouthed Black girls and that he is defending himself


The Rott is supposed to be a black sight, right? But yet, every article I read from you is addressing white people who you want to call racist. Just onece I’d like to see you address the following facts:

[*Note: The next part of this letter was obviously cut and pasted into the email. I know this because I, too, have recieved and extended version of the same email] 

The FACTS – a concept well beyond the grasp of Multikultis – surrounding Afro-Americans are far worse than what ultra-naïve “racists” think in their darkest nightmares

A Black-written NY Times article sums up the stupendously shocking situation: “What we have here are symptoms of a depressing cultural illness [sadly, it’s not just cultural], frequently fatal, that has spread unchecked through much of black America. The [Black] people who are laid low by this illness don’t snitch on criminals, seldom marry, frequently abandon their children [over 77 percent of Afro-American children are born to unmarried mothers ], refer to themselves in the vilest terms (n*ggers, wh*res, etc.), spend extraordinary amounts of time kicking back in correctional institutions and generally wallow in the deepest depths of degradation their irresponsible selves can find. […] If white people were doing to black people what black people are doing to black people, there would be rioting from coast to coast.”

That Colin Kaepernick’s Black father abandoned his pregnant White mother exemplifies only the tip of the top of ever-worsening Afro-American self-destruction – moronically blamed on long-suffering Whitey by Black agitproppers and their White lap doggies.

The following facts make a mockery of the Fake News Media, who have never met a multicultural lie they didn’t like:

1) More than 77 percent of Afro-American children are born out of wedlock and are pretty much “growing up” in single-parent households.

2) MOST Black males are unable to get through super-simple high school and are largely unemployable. For starters, Black youngsters have no interest in learning, concluded Oprah after many visits to inner-city schools.

3) HALF of young Afro-American men are in prison, just out of prison or on their way to prison.

4) Each year, around 7,000 Afro-American men are slaughtered at the hands of overwhelmingly Black thugs, and the Black-on-Black butchery is only getting worse. That comes courtesy of Schmobama – the Prez of Antifa America – whose horror hometown has seen the mass-murder of over 35,000 people, overwhelmingly Blacks, in the past 50 years. Countrywide, 300,000 Afro-American men have been murdered by their Black bros since 1980. Go back further in time, and you may well hit the HALF A MILLION mark for Black-on-Black mass murder.

5) The FACTS expose Kaepernick and other klutzy kneelers as pathological liars: In 2016, the US police fatally shot 16 unarmed Black men – or 0.2 percent of all Black male lives lost to homicide in that year. If there is a bias in police shootings, it works in favor of Blacks and against Whites, says crime expert Heather Mac Donald.

6) In rare moments of media honesty, PBS revealed that nearly HALF of young Black men in Chicago are not in school or work, while The Atlantic added that “52 percent of African American men in New Orleans are not working.” I’m betting the fine farm that the total truth is even more terrifying.

Michael, instead of speaking to white people, why don’t you ever speak to “your people” who bring down the rest of our society with their violence and ignorance. Just once I’d like to see you do that.

Dear Wally

Even though every single fact you stated is wrong, I agree with almost everything you say. As such, I decided to take you up on your offer and compose a speech to Black America to fix all of our problems. Since your letter prompted this idea, I thought it would only be fair to give you a sneak peek at my first draft:

Friends, negroes and all 43,840,436 black countrymen, lend me your ears:

To all my thugs, killers, robbers, rapists, violent criminals and deadbeats ...

Fuck y’all.

Now, I know that very few of you own boats, planes and international shipping companies. I am also aware that black people use illegal drugs less often than whites, but are incarcerated at three times the rate of whites, so I wasn’t talking about the 342,513 black people arrested in 2017 for drug abuse violations, according to the FBI’s latest statistics. I also don’t give a fuck about prostitution, gambling and “commercialized vice,” so I don’t mean “fuck you” to those people. White people are the clear leaders in forgery and embezzlement and, while I don’t condone it, I don’t think you’re “bringing down the race,” so ... I wasn’t saying “fuck y’all.” In fact, I didn’t mean “fuck you” to any perpetrator of a victimless or nonviolent crime.

Specifically, I’m talking to the remaining 1,161,651 black people who were arrested in 2017 for murder, taking something from someone, any other violent crime, a sex offense or a property crime.

Hold up ...

About one-third of those arrests were for multiple crimes. Those FBI numbers account for the number of people arrested, not convicted. Another 8 percent are of those people eventually found not guilty or have charges dismissed. We can’t statistically account for the number of people who are wrongly convicted, so I won’t include that number, even though I acknowledge you. So, to the 712, 479 black people who are “bringing down our society”...

Fuck you.

Now, to the other 43,127,957 black people, or 98.6 percent of the black population, we need to focus on how we can lift ourselves up as a race.

We know that black people have higher unemployment. We know that black people are disproportionately killed by police. We know black people are paid less than white people with the same education and experience. We know that majority black schools are underfunded. We know that black people receive longer sentences. We know that black people receive higher money bails. We know that black students are punished more harshly than white kids.

Now, knowing all of this, our first step is to identify where the problem lies. As I see it, there can only be two sources of our problem. This is not an either/or answer. The truth is, the problems of Black America aren’t unilateral, but I’ve brought you here today to decide where we need to focus our attention. Our problems either stem from:

1. The 1.4 percent of black people who are out there violently, robbing, killing, raping and stealing, or:

2. The white people who would have you believe that most black people are out there violently robbing, killing, raping and stealing.

I know it’s a hard choice. Let’s say that we cut that 1.4 percent down to .7 percent. Do you think white people will stop believing black people are violent? If the black graduation rate rises, do you think white people will think we’re as smart and as capable as they are? Do you think that making up the tiny, infinitesimal gaps in test scores will translate to equal employment and equal pay?

Should we focus on black kids at underfunded schools or the people who underfund the schools? Should we concentrate on the tiny number of people who are disproportionately incarcerated, or should we concentrate on the reasons for the disparities in arrest rates, bail and sentencing? Should we concentrate on the banks who won’t give loans to qualified borrowers, or should we focus on making qualified black borrowers more qualified? Should we try to get black workers more education and experience than their white counterparts and hope that will close the wage and employment gap?

How does one become more equal?

Well, black people did exactly what you suggest. We are more educated than ever before. We have been committing fewer crimes. We have been working harder. So what happened?

In 1969, the year after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, the black unemployment rate was 6.9 percent (compared to 3.2 percent white unemployment), and about 7 percent of the black male population had college degrees compared to 18 percent of white males, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

50 years later, in January 2019, 22 percent of the black population has college degrees (compared to 36 percent of whites). Yet, the black unemployment rate is the same (6.6 percent black unemployment; 3.4 percent white unemployment). The black incarceration rate is dropping faster while the white incarceration rate is rising, but the disparities still exist in the criminal justice system.

What gives?

See, there has never, ever, ever—in the history of this country—been a single iota of empirical, scientific or sociological evidence that black people educating themselves, working harder and staying out of trouble will bring about equality or eliminate racism. While the problems that create crime, poverty and educational disparities are myriad, black people have always found a way to lessen them.

And even doing all of that, the results are the same: 98 percent of black people don’t commit crime, but white people want to talk about black-on-black crime. Most black people graduate high school. Most black people work for a living. Black fathers are in the lives of their children more often than white fathers.

No matter how much you try to obfuscate it, logic, history and evidence show that there is only one real solution to the problems of black America, because there is really only one common denominator in every iota of inequality in America:

White people.

Thank you for coming. God Bless, Good Night.

After our story on Lisa Bonet’s red carpet Oscar eyeroll, I received a lot of email from people who wanted to inform me that Ashley Graham can’t be racist because she is married to a black man.


From: Stace
To: Michael Harriot

Ashley Graham is married to a black man. He even has facial hair. It is hard to accuse someone of racism if the love of their life is racist.

Maybe you are looking for racism too much. Was news that slow or do you just hate white people?


I guess it’s time for my nigger story.

Every black person has a “nigger” story. This is mine.

Growing up, I had two really good white friends, Trey and Mark. I could exaggerate this tale and call them my “best friends,” but they were not. I do not think they would call me their “best friend.” If anything, I was the proverbial black friend. Both their fathers were attorneys, and they lived relatively close to each other and attended the same high schools. If Trey and Mark don’t consider themselves best friends, the only other candidate would be Brett, who was close to both of them.


Trey and I were inseparable simply because we had a class together our freshman year and discovered we liked a lot of the same things, including old school hip-hop. (Unfortunately, Trey still likes a lot of the same shit. The last time I saw him, which was at our class reunion, he whispered in my ear: “Kurtis Blow would still kill all these rappers.”) Throughout our four years of high school, we became really close. We went to concerts together. I’ve eaten dinner with his family. I still consider him to be a legitimate friend.

Mark and I had all our honors classes through high school, so we became similarly close, but we weren’t as tight as Trey and me. I really didn’t fuck with Brett that much except for when I was with Trey or Mark and the one year Brett and I played on the same city league basketball team.


Brett, Trey and Mark were also members of the Key Club, a semi-prestigious high school service organization. One of the reasons that it was prestigious was that it had never had any black members, mostly because the only way to get into the Key Club was to have three members vouch for you. No one was supposed to know who “vouched” for you, but I’m pretty sure Trey and Mark convinced Brett to vouch for me and somehow, I became a member of the Key Club, although I can’t recall anything we ever did.

Near the end of our senior year, after our last Key Club meeting, I started walking home. I would have usually asked Mark or Trey for a ride, but they both rode with Brett on this night and—again—I didn’t really fuck with him like that. Even still, they offered me a ride. I hopped in the back seat, and either tray or Mark gave Brett directions to my house—down Eighth street, past Lincoln Village and make a right. Lincoln Village wasn’t just an apartment complex near my house; Lincoln Village was where a lot of my friends lived. It was literally built on top of an old black cemetery. It was all black. You could get drugs there.


Lincoln Village was the projects.

As we passed through Lincoln Village, someone on Eighth street, which was always occupied by enterprising young dope boys, saw a sports car filled with white dudes and, probably assuming they were shopping for crack, ran out into the street, causing Brett to slam on his breaks. In an instant, everyone in the car lurched forward and Brett screamed just one word:


In any decent nigger story, this would be the point where I jumped out of the car and fought Brett. Even a mediocre nigger story would feature a non-violent but intense confrontation. At least there should be an argument. But not this nigger story.


I didn’t say shit.

We rode the final two blocks to my house in silence. No one said anything. Not Brett. Not Mark. Not even Trey.


My nigger story is trash because, as a 16-year-old, I wasn’t as outspoken or as contemplative as I am now. In fact, I was kinda sad about it even though I have never told this story. I haven’t been keeping it a secret or anything, nor have I forgotten it. It was just a thing that happened.

Trey, Mark and Brett are all lawyers now. Being that they are still in South Carolina, I’d bet that they are all Republicans. I don’t even know if, at that age, I think they should have spoken up for me or said something to their friend. My only point here is that people can have a black friend or a black lover and still do or say racist shit.


I always wish I would have said something. I don’t know if I was stunned or docile. It was a long time ago and, aside from a being a good ending for my nigger story, I don’t know what it would have done. I now know that pointing out an incident of racism isn’t an act of aggression or even a horrible accusation.

I swear on everything I love that I still consider Mark and Trey to be real friends, even if we rarely even speak to each other. And we almost never speak to each other.


But every now and then, I will even get a message from Brett. It might be a screenshot of something of mine that he read. It might be a happy birthday shout-out. I just think he was a teenager who said some racist shit. I even ran into him a few years ago at a tailgate when his college alma mater was playing mine. He insisted that I stay and drink a beer with him and he introduced me to his wife and his college buddies.

In 2015, I received a message from Brett on my Facebook page. It just said:

“I know this is long overdue, but I said something racist to you a long time ago and I need to say I’m sorry.”


I’ll always remember the night Brett said the n-word because that was when I first realized that I, too, was a nigger. But, in my mind, I don’t consider Brett to be an evil racist. I don’t hate him or any white person.

How could I?

Some of my best friends are white.

I’m sure they’ll vouch for me.

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


Probably Redundant Comment

The hair style?

He even has facial hair everybody! That means he’s EXTRA black. That’s like her being married to 3 black men without facial hair.

Very hair obsessed letters this week.