Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt

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Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt
Illustration: Oscar Bustamante

I don’t care.

Although I am curious by nature, I generally don’t care what people do or say. I relate to the rest of the world as if they were planning a gender reveal party, an orgy or a prayer meeting at an Episcopalian church—I’m not interested but do you. However, I find myself immensely intrigued by salty people.

You know who I’m talking about. Salty people are discomfited by other people’s sexuality, gender, habits or even the way they dress. Whenever I encounter homophobes, transphobes, Bible-thumpers or generally salty people, I immediately think: “I gotta watch this motherfucker. They’re a little too concerned.


Ironically, the people who resist seasoning are all-time world champion of saltiness.

That’s why the Clapback Mailbag exists.

Let’s start off with just a dash of salt:

Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt
Screenshot: Twitter
Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt
Screenshot: Twitter
Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt
Screenshot: Twitter

At first I wanted to clap back at these people for how wrong they are, but then, I received this DM from someone who explained the saltiness perfectly:

From: Lara
To: Michael Harriot

If he was biracial, then shouldn’t you have mentioned that? Does it really matter if the first comedian was black or white at all? Don’t you think mentioning race is the reason we need BHM?

I think everyone deserves credit without making it a racial thing.

Dear Lara, Pffft and Curt:

Your objections puzzle me. Tell me what you think happened:

  1. I created this story out of thin air.
  2. I ignored the contributions of white people.
  3. I found this unknown Black person who scholars called the “first stand-up comedian” in at least six books about the history of vaudeville, theater and comedy and wrote an article about him.

Charlie Case is Black. He is a historical figure (Which is probably why he’s in books). I wrote an article about a real man for a series on Black people during Black History Month. And here’s what happened next:

You made it about race.

Suppose, for instance, my son was the most famous painter in the world and made millions of dollars from his art. Let’s say my daughter taught him how to paint but was a relatively unknown art teacher who never received any acclaim. If my son came home and say my daughter’s artwork on the refrigerator, why would he be offended?


That’s what I can’t understand about white people. You have all the money in the world. You get all the credit for your creations. Not only do you own all the museums and art dealerships, you get to determine what is art. And still, that is not enough.

But I figured out why that is.

It’s because you know.

You know that somewhere, in a public school or on a suburban refrigerator, there is a greater artist than you. And you know that you stole their work. It’s not that you are worried that you won’t receive credit or will lose all of your money and power. You’re mad for an entirely different reason.


Because you want it all.

That’s how you turned your mediocre works into money and power. That’s why you’re world-famous. Because you take other people’s creations and make them yours. You’re so worried about being exposed as just another motherfucker who paints that you would rather no one has access to paintbrushes.


I get it now. You’re mad because you know what you are:

An art thief.

And then there was this:

From: William C.
To: Danielle Belton
Subject: “Terrell Jermaine Starr” article regarding 3 visits to the hosital for a balc man who dies untreated

What a piece of trash and by inference the publication that carried it.

Bill C.

Dear Bill,

You’re a racist.

But how did you get that way? Racism doesn’t spontaneously manifest itself. You must have been raised that way. So, by inference, your mama’s a racist. But how did she get that way? She must have been raised by a racist too. And I assume that someone must have had sex with her to produce you, which means your grandmothers and your grandfathers were racists.


And, if four racists weren’t called out for their racism, by inference it must mean that they were surrounded by racists, so your hometown is racist. But why did the people of a state allow this town to be so racist? Could it be that your entire state is racist? And if one state is an oasis of racism, it must mean that America is racist. Of course, Black people have been saying this about this country for years, but very little has changed.

Which, by inference, must mean that all the white people are racist.

You said it, not me.

Instead of focusing on your mama’s racist ass, I would like to know how to cure racism. The only possible way we can undo all this racism is to stop the racists from reproducing. While it might be too late for your hatin’-ass mama, you can help, Bill.


Now, I would never suggest that anyone stop having sex and birth control is not foolproof. But if someone were to teach you how to stop being racist, then your non-racist procreations would make the world a better place. But, of course, I can’t guarantee that you are capable of reproducing. However, we know that your mother is. So maybe if both of you used this anti-racist fertility method, we could eliminate racism.

Instead of insulting you, I am calling on all not racist people to help you and the matriarch of your family in bearing non-racist offspring.


So, by inference, fuck you and your racist mama.

I received these two emails concerning voter suppression in Georgia:

From: L S
To: Michael Harriot

Nigga please. No one is trying to supress the negro vote. Shut your race baiting pussy mouth

From: Joshua
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Regarding your most recent article in The Root

I don’t know if you will read this message, but if you do I hope it finds you well and in good health. As you can probably tell from my email address I am from Georgia. Your article about the Georgia legistlation doing what Georgia does and suppresses black voter rights happened to pop up in the Yahoo feed and I was intrigued to open it. I am largely unfamiliar with your work so I decided to briefly scan just so I was a little better prepared to contact you. You certainly do have a way with words, you paint quite vivid pictures that tend to dance around in your head while you read your articles. I don’t have any social media because I find it unhealthy for anyone’s mental health but I do not judge those who have it. I just felt that an email would better describe the words I wish to share with you. I have no issues with the proposed legislation of the Georgia senate and I will not get down into the weeds with the discussion of each individual bill. It is not difficult for anyone in the state to obtain identification, and ID is required for an endless list of activities now. If you do not have an ID of any sort, there is only one person to blame now with the infinite information provided to us by the internet. I would hate it in the future if for some reason these changes were not passed and the integrity of the election came into doubt. I want the elections to be without a shadow of a doubt secure. I also don’t want any vote to be suppressed.

I am 32, married with two kids and a third due any day now. I know I have a good life and am incredibly blessed. I also know that not everyone has it as good as I do. You can count me naive in a certain sense. There is a lot that I do not know about in the world (public education haha). There is also a lot that I do know. I love to work with my hands whether it be carpentry, athletics, or growing food in the garden to feed my family. There is a lot that I could define myself as: husband, father, gardener, brother, Christian, conservative, American. I know that last one seems to be controversial nowadays. But white does not really define me, white does not mean anything. There are so many people from different countries that fall under the white umbrella but could have virtually nothing in common. The same goes for the Black identity as well. It’s not fair to lump all black cultures under one label and say that it covers everything. There is not enough depth simply by implying that I am identified by the color of my skin. I also would not define myself as a republican either because it has become abundantly clear that the republicans do not care about people either. I say let the politicians roll around in their own filth.

I know there is a lot of tainted history in this county but saying that white supremacy is everywhere and that anything the conservative citizens of this country do is supporting it is very poor rhetoric, especially for a poet and a wordsmith such as yourself. It is disingenuous to lump people into a group that you do not like, and label them bad when you have had no contact with them nor have you heard what they are actually saying. We hear a lot about echo chambers now and not getting out and talking to people anymore. We are not enemies, we are neighbors with likes and dislikes. I imagine that we probably have more in common than we do not. I would encourage you to open a dialogue with someone you do not know from somewhere you have never been and learn about them. We each have history that will never make it to a history book. The only way we share it is through speech and fellowship.

I apologize for the length of the message but I do hope the substance conveys my feeling. Also the article about Punk Ass Tony Phil was hilarious! God Bless you sir.

From: Logan L.
To: Michael harriot

How is monthly removal of dead voters from voter rolls “ voter suppression”??? Why are you so scared or fair election process and want to find anyway you can to cheat the system? Voter ID is not voter suppression its to PREVENT FRAUD!!!


Dear Logan, Joshua and LS,

I, too am concerned about voter fraud and election security.

I don’t want dead people voting. I want to ensure the identity of the person who says they are voting. I don’t want people moving from another state to vote in an election. Although no one has ever proven a single incident of widespread voter fraud, I have come up with a few ideas to ensure this would never happen.

  1. Free voter ID: To verify identity, why not let people register at the place people get ID? Wait, Georgia already does that. However, the Republicans in the Georgia legislature are trying to end that practice with their new bill.
  2. Have longer election periods: If the polls were less crowded, then poll workers would have more time to verify the identity of voters. Plus, this would create fewer people who needed those dastardly absentee ballots. But the GOP is against this, too.
  3. Automatic voter registration: Anyone over 18 is automatically registered. But how will we know where they live? How about doing it when you get your ID? What? That’s one of the things the GOP is trying to change? Damn!
  4. Dropbox locations: Since we have that universal ID thing, what if we made a secure box—kinda like a mailbox—for absentee voters? Your voter registration would have a unique ID that could be verified on your mail-in ballot! Surely this is an original idea. What’s that? That’s how Georgia already does it? Fuck, man, this is hard!
  5. Hand-marked paper ballots: I don’t trust those voting machines, either. We need a way to re-check those suspicious ballots. What if we filled out ballots by hand? Shit, I forgot that the Georgia legislature had the opportunity to do that and Republicans refused to buy those election systems.
  6. Objective elections observers: Instead of people, let’s use cameras. I know it would cost a lot of money but it would be worth it. Especially if they live-streamed the vote count. Most states already do this, but why is the GOP trying to end this unless they would like to obstruct elections?
  7. Allow more people to vote: End felony disenfranchisement and purges. You know the easiest way to stop election fraud? Let more people into the process. It’s easy for someone to rig 10 votes. It’s damn near impossible to rig 100 million votes. More voters mean more secure elections. How can you have illegal voters if no one is illegal?

Neither you nor your GOP friends are concerned with secure elections. You’re more concerned with winning. Also, you’re dumb.

If you weren’t dumb, you wouldn’t have sent me these emails arguing for things that already exist. If you were smart, you might have noticed that the other side has been pushing for these measures for years.


Guys, I’ve just laid out every method that elections experts suggest would make our elections more secure. And in every case, Republicans are fighting against these practices. There is only one reason for that:

They want fewer people to vote.

To cleanse your salty palate, I will leave you with one comment that I received this week:

Image for article titled The Root's Clapback Mailbag: Unseasoned Salt
Screenshot: Facebook

That’s why we have the Clapback Mailbag.