The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: ’Tis the Season To Be Racist

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: ’Tis the Season To Be Racist
Image: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/FMG)
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.

While the Clapback Mailbag sometimes feels negative, I actually get excited opening the tweets, emails, comments and messages to see what gifts The Root’s readers have bestowed upon us. And even though I enjoy it, there has always been something missing.


You see, the Clapback Mailbag is not about receiving racist and pointed commentary; it’s about giving. It’s about giving back to the readers. It’s about sharing. And so, I finally figured out what we need to celebrate each Friday of gift-giving:

We need a Clapback carol.

I wrote one to the tune of the second-greatest Christmas song ever made, “This Christmas,” by Donny Hathaway. (Sorry, but the Temptations’ “Silent Night” still reigns supreme.)

Wanna hear it? Here it goes:

Send Anne a racist note 
Criticize Monique’s posts ... Again. THIS FRIDAY! 
Genetta says the mailbag’s too long 
Angela says I spelled something wrong ... Again. THIS FRIDAY! 

Throw all the grammar out the dooooor 
But I’m the real racist, you should knooooow! 

And this mailbag will be ... 
A very special clapback for me 
Bum ba da da da bum bum bum bum bum (You actually have to sing that part)
fuck that guy, fuck that guy now... 
Bum ba da da da bum bum bum bum bum 
You said the n-word, why can’t I, now? 

(Second verse) 
Not all white people 
Just the ones I seem to know ... are raaacist. THIS FRIDAY! 
I play the race card all the time 
I don’t talk about black on black crime ... ever. THIS FRIDAY! 

We’ve been waiting for it all day ... 
Let’s see what racists have to saaay. 

And this mailbag will be 
Full of delicious clapbacks, you’ll see! 
Bum ba da da da bum bum bum bum bum 
Shake a fist, shake a fist, now. 
Bum ba da da da bum bum bum bum bum 
So racist, so racist, wow! 

Merry Clap-mas, from The Root!

This first Twitter direct message refers to this post. Or maybe this one. But probably this one:

From: MaxMcDo

To: Michael Harriot

I joined Twitter just to call you out. For you to call people who support republicans “white supremacists” is really uneducated and childish. Sadly you don’t know the truth about this country. I Read a very poor article you wrote about Candace Owens. You said she would stab Kanye West in the heart with a KKK cross. Lol KKK was created by people who supported democrats. There were people in politics from the Democratic Party that were/are members of the KKK. So how could Candace Owens who is a conservative republican stab Kanye West with a KKK cross when she is a republican? Also Jim Crow was a Democrat. John Wilkes booth who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. The confederates in the civil war were Democrats.

Why do you think African Americans fled the south? For a better life and more equal opportunity. Which party ran the north? Republicans! Donald trump has improved the life of African Americans more than any other president. Also, last time I checked when did people call someone racist when they don’t even know them?

I’m a proud conservative republican. Am I racist? I have friends from many different backgrounds and races. My girlfriend is black and is from inner city Chicago. You probably think every white cop is bad and only cops of color are good. (White people double any race in police involved killings).Actually heard that with my own ears from some African Americans. Democrats are socialists. They love socialism. You know who else was a socialist who did some of the exact same things the Democrats are doing now? Hitler. Dems buy votes. Hand out freebies. Never have seen anyone’s life who come from poverty improve under democratic policies. Poor people vote Democrat and are still poor! They must like high taxes. There are good democrats out there but people like yourself make them look very very bad. I could say more but you won’t care. You can believe what you want and think what’s best for the country in your opinion. That’s what makes America great is that everyone can voice their own opinion. But when dems attack republicans for voicing theirs something is wrong with that. Sad to see the media do the same. Look up antifa. Nazi germany had their own antifa too.


Hi, Max:

First, in the spirit of Clapback Season, I’d like to offer an apology to you. I’d like to say not all Republicans are white supremacists. There are many, like you, who are just dumb.


That’s not a pejorative. Even the Washington Post and Pew Research agree that the GOP is composed of mostly uneducated white people. Because you’re dumber than me, I understand you don’t know the history of the Democratic and Republican parties. I advise you to read it here. I promise it’s not a difficult read, although I do mention a few polysyllabic terms you, as a dummy, might not be familiar with, such as “Constitution” and “historical facts.”

But I’d like to ask a few other questions raised by your letter. I’ve numbered them so they would be easier to understand. Feel free to drag your finger across the computer screen as you read.

  1. You know Jim Crow wasn’t a person, right? He was a fictional character created for minstrel shows. I know there was a lot of voter fraud back then, but I don’t think they let fictional characters vote, so I doubt if Jim Crow was registered as a Democrat. Or maybe you meant to say that Thomas Dartmouth Rice, the white man who created the Jim Crow character, was a Democrat.

  2. Adam Sandler is a Republican. But Jim Caviezel, who played the starring role in The Passion of the Christ, is a Democrat. Morgan Freeman, who starred in Bruce Almighty, is also a Democrat. Then there are George Clooney, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale. So, according to your logic, Jesus, God, and Batman are Democrats, but the devil is a Republican.
  3. Wait ... I can’t call someone racist unless I know them? B-b-but you just called Democrats racists. And socialists. You called Hitler a socialist, too. Wait ... Did you know Hitler? This explains a lot.
  4. Shouldn’t you learn how to do math? You are correct when you say the number of white people killed by police is double the number of black people. But when I was six, I learned these mathematics techniques called multiplication and division. See, when you divide the white population percentage (76.6) by the percentage of black people in the U.S. (13.4), it means there are five times as many white people in the U.S. than there are black people, which means black people are killed at a higher rate than whites.
  5. What does your black girlfriend have to do with anything? Although I don’t believe you have a girlfriend of any kind, why does this excuse continue to be a thing? You can have a black girlfriend and still be racist. I’ve heard of black girl magic, but are the walls of her vagina lined with a magical anti-racism potion? Many slavemasters had sex with their female slaves (in other words, raped them). Does that mean slavery wasn’t racist?
  6. Why don’t you read more? I realize you have to take the things people tell you at face value because damn near everyone you will ever meet in life is smarter than you are, but allow me to tell you about this secret tool called Google. Before regurgitating dumb shit you heard, you can actually look it up. You should read about Antifa in Nazi Germany. They were organized to literally fight fascists like Hitler. You think that’s bad? Oh, I forgot, you know him personally.

Before I began this response, I didn’t know the name of the man who created Jim Crow. When you mentioned Jim Crow, I thought your fact sounded stupid, so I looked it up. You think I know how to spell “Caviezel?” Fuck no.

You see, not being dumb doesn’t require knowing a lot of things. It simply requires knowing what you don’t know. And you don’t know a lot of shit, Max, which is probably why you’re a proud, conservative Republican.


But unlike others, I don’t think poor, uneducated Republicans vote against their own interests. I completely understand why you vote for the party of white supremacy. I don’t know you, so I won’t say that you’re racist.

But you’re dumb.

And if I was a dumb white man who couldn’t do rudimentary math and mouthed words when I read them, I’d vote for the Republican party, too.


Whiteness is all you have, Max.

Good luck with that.

From: D. Duke
To: Michael Harriot

I’m having a little Caucasian soiree at my plantation, and I require the chicken frying, melon fetching services of at least 10 lower primates. I thought of you first because of your delicious wit regarding race relations. Please don’t say ‘no!’


I can’t make it, but I know a guy.

Tweet @MaxMcDo48555399. His “girlfriend” might be down to come.

I actually shortened this letter, but it refers to a piece that was a Clapback at an article in the Federalist, so technically this is a Clapback squared.


From: Janice D.
To: Michael Harriot

Hi. Hope your Thanksgiving-Eve has been wonderful. I read your article “Americans Don’t Disagree About What Racism Is... White People Do”, this morning. I would love to tell you, this article has fascinated me completely! I have been contemplating your position, the pro, as well as the con, and imagined the various conversations that it has inspired across our nation.

I can’t help but wonder who this piece was intended for, the team, or the opposition? Regardless, the article does not leave the reader passive. You masterfully manipulate whatever audience into an emotional state. But that is only the tip of my fascination. You present the 2 definitions as either/or’s, then choose the one that fits your purpose as the only true one.

Why one or the other? If we truly want to understand the essence of this evil, shouldn’t the whole of it be understood? Doesn’t basic psychology explain that behavior rarely exists all on its own? Behavior is the product of a thought nurtured- first the thought that evolves into an idea, that evolves into a belief, that then manifests into an action, that after practice becomes a behavior...

The other part of your essay that has me deeply contemplating your words is how casually you divide our humanity into “us” an “them”, black and white. I am truly at odds with this. I have spent the most of my life observing people, collectively and individually. And what I have learned is that each and everyone of us has experiences that connect us to all sorts of different people. Likewise, we each have experiences that make us quite unique. The view you take in your article is that there are black people and there are white people. Blacks are like this and whites are like that. Us and them.

And I have to ask, do you truly hold this rigid a view of our humanity? If so, how? Don’t we enjoy layers of commonalities? Interests. Talents. Loves. Fears. Joys. Repulsions. Dreams. I will not deny the truth that there are many whites who have done some unspeakable things. But, for all the horrible whites there haven been that have committed unforgivable acts against others, there have also been unforgivable acts committed by every other race. And if we are going to micro-examine all the evils committed, shouldn’t we also give the time to consider all the righteous acts of each? It is easy to point our fingers at the whites who enslaved and benefitted from that evil, or those who have created a system meant to keep blacks out of the mainstream of societal success. But with the ease of pointing out the sins, shouldn’t it also be easy to point out the courage of those who stood against the wrongs? Why doesn’t anyone speak openly about the whites who risked their’s and their family’s life and well-being to bring an end to slavery, as well as the injustices that have continued since?

There are multiple ways to categorize the human race. Black /white, male/female, old/young, tall/short, well sighted/ poorly sighted, rich/poor, us/them. One category that I think is often over looked, but has more truth to it, is pessimist /optimist. And maybe this is why you and your article have captivated me as much as it has. Your intelligence is undeniable. Your talent is evident. Your voice is clear. People listen. I listened. You are a man of such gifts and yet your perspective is limited in scope to focus only on the worst of one particular race. Why not widen your scope and see that all humanity is guilty of these same atrocities, or even change the lens all together?

Try observing humanity in its truest- the evil with good. Consider this truth: We are humans first. Please help us to connect, heal and create something better. If you actually took the time to read, thank-you. I do hope the best for you and your family. I look forward to what you write next. Sincerely, and with warm regards,

Janice D.

Dear Janice,

I appreciate your letter. You really sound sincere, so I only want to ask you one question:

Can I come to Whitekanda?

Seriously, I often receive letters like this from Caucasians who sound earnest and well-meaning as fuck. They describe this Utopian place of peace and equality that we could all live in if we would only open our eyes and hearts to the commonality that lives deep inside us all. And I can’t li e... I wanna come.


It’s gotta be better than where I live.

You see, Janice, whenever I hear someone talk about how I’m being divisive and how we shouldn’t separate the world into “us” versus “them,” I’ve noticed that it’s always one of “them.” It’s always one of the citizens in your wonderful paradise. It’s never us.


I’d really like to relocate to the land of “them.” “Them” don’t have to see their son’s handsomeness and wonder if he still looks like a target to some of “them.” “Them” never make police officers fear for their lives. “Them” can commit a mass murder and be called an “all-American kid.”

In the serene suburbs of Themopolis, women can talk back to cops without worrying about being found hanging in their jail cell. “Them” boys can wear hoodies and buy Skittles without being gunned down. You can wear short dresses without devaluing property. Judges in Themland give fair trials and sentences. Selling CDs and loose cigarettes don’t warrant a death sentence in Themark. The school funding is always good in “them” school districts. They count votes. The unemployment rate is low. They even allow people to do shit like barbecue in parks, sit in Starbucks and reach for their wallets.


But the best thing about living in the wonderful world of Wypipostan is the privilege of selective amnesia. There, everything is forgiven if you are registered as a “them.”

Whenever people point out the repeated fuckshit that “Thems” have done, you respond by talking about the small number of good deeds you have performed. For instance, the millions of people who owned, benefited from and lived in silence during slavery are counterbalanced by a handful of abolitionists. An entire country that supported segregation and Jim Crow laws are negated by a couple of white allies. In this melanin-less Shangri-la, a teaspoon of good absolves a shit-ton of bad.


So maybe I should try “widening my scope” as a pathway to living in complete Caucasian oblivion. Every time I try observing “humanity at its truest,” as you suggested, I only end up seeing reality.

I see one group of people which has been marginalized, tortured and oppressed since they arrived in this country. I see one group of people which has traveled around the globe on a neverending quest to slit throats and take land. I see statistics, math, history, archaeology and every discipline that ever existed telling me the enemy of global peace and harmony is “them.”


I am an “us.”

On Thanksgiving night, in my city—a “them” city—with bucolic lawns and red brick mailboxes encircled by lavender flowers, the police killed a 21-year-old boy. For nothing. For existing. For being.


When “us” protested, no one was protesting “them.” They weren’t protesting cops or white people. They were protesting a killer. But the people of my city, the “thems,” showed their racist parts.

Here is one of the public comments I saw calling for the mayor to resign while asking the cops to attack people exercising their constitutional rights:

Illustration for article titled The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: ’Tis the Season To Be Racist
Screenshot: Facebook

To be clear, I don’t want to be one of “them.”

I just want to see what it’s like to live there. To see if the puddles of black blood look like oases. To see if inflicting pain feels like dancing with a slice of watermelon in your hand. To see if evil feels like a warm blanket or if whiteness feels like a suit of armor. I’d really like to go ...


Just so I could burn that motherfucker down.


An “Us”

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


kidelo (i have a tiktok)

This whole Clapback:

And you lead off with the best one:

Whiteness is all you have, Max.

That’s going to burn for a long time.