The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: White Friday

Oscar Bustamante/FMG/The Root
Oscar Bustamante/FMG/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.

In the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to offer a kinder, gentler Clapback Mailbag this week. Instead of clapping back at the people who send emails, tweets and direct messages, we would like to thank our haters, because without them, where would we be?


As you sit back munching on your leftover dressing and sweet-potato-pie sandwich (don’t judge me; I’m just trying to eliminate waste by recycling), remember that whatever you do in life, if you don’t have haters, you’re doing it wrong.

Let us commence with the clapping:

Our first correspondences this week refer to a story we recently published about Nazi furries. The community of furries (not to be confused with the furry community—people with an excessive amount of back hair) was very upset about our post on the trend of alt-right anthropomorphic cosplayers.


From: Buddy
To: The Root Tips

First off spreading lies about something you have little to no information about, and using a photo completely out of context, On of the suiters is a partially deaf gay man, there is just as much Nazi propaganda in the furry community and there is in a loaf of bread. This is why only certain news outlets grow enough to recognised, they don’t lie nor spread rumor to get attenchen.

Dear Furries:

First, allow me to thank you for reaching out to me. I am delighted to share this open dialogue with you and your community. I hope The Root can become a place where people of all costumes can come together and exist in unity, no matter their fur or made-up species.


Second, I would like to say that, as an equal opportunity site, we would never limit people from doing what they believe. As such, I want to clarify our belief that the phenomenon of “white-people shit” is not limited to people of the Caucasian persuasion. Yes, a nonwhite gay man can, indeed, participate in white-people shit.

Contrary to popular belief, the term was not coined to besmirch the activities enjoyed by taupe Americans. It was meant to praise their imagination, unfettered by the fear of being marginalized or categorized. Our wish for humanity is that we all, one day, can enjoy the privilege of participating in white-people shit.


I do, however, object to your belief that having sex with a black man means that you cannot be a racist. History is filled with examples to the contrary. Slaveholders routinely had sex with slaves while upholding the tenets of white supremacy. There are many incidents of white women who had consensual sex with black men and then pointed lynch mobs in the direction of their lovers. Racism and interracial sex are not mutually exclusive.

I, on the other hand, uphold your right to have sex with whomever you choose. Whether it be a black man or a fuchsia fox wearing a Nazi-inspired armband, if you like it, I love it.


Just remember to use protection. I don’t want you to get rabies.

From: Chantel
To: Michael Harriot

I read your article on Black Thanksgiving. I love your writing, but would like you to know that not everything is about race.Stuff like Thanksgiving is universal. Your aritcles about black thanksgiving is so similar to white thanksgiving. We might not eat the same kind of food, and our relatives might be slightly diferent in the way we treat each other, but everything els is exactly alike. I am white, but I recognized almost everything in your article. If The only difference in me and you is what we call our aunts and how we like our macarone, then we might not be so different afger all.


Dear Chantel,

You might want to look up the definition of the words “exactly alike.”


From: Bill S.
To: Michael Harriot

Hello Michael,

I’d like to apologize for contracting you on your personal email address.

Tried to find a method of contact on the site, but an email address for writing submissions was all I could find in the way of contact. I also posted this in reply to your last Clapback posting, but I’m a member of the Greys and with a last name like S., Ill likely never not be on The Root.

Ok let’s get to my application.

I think I have finally figured out what irks me about your writing Michael. Well actually I shouldn’t say writing, as you are a damn fine writer. I guess I should say, the content in your writing.

I’m not poor ol Dusty from the last set of clapbacks, and Im not gonna get offended by comments that you make. I’m honestly too damn busy trying to pay my bills every month to get riled by an internet comment.

With that said, I think the issue I have with your writing is that you’re coming across as just another provocateur, in what seems like an ever growing sea of provocateurs. A provocateur as I see it, only serves one purpose, and that’s to stir the pot. Honestly I dont have any problem with stirring the pot, because that needs to happen from time to time, and it would seem it needs to happen often when it comes to social issues. The problem with provocateurs is that they never stop stirring for long enough for the change they provocate for to actually take place.

Now obviously Im not saying that if you stop now, all of a sudden all of the racist bullshit out there is instantly going to vanish. That obviously does not hinge on your writing. What I am saying is that I wish the provocative nature of your writing could take a back seat more often now that the site has a pretty good base. I wish there was more writing on here about ideas to bring about change now that you have a voice with a platform and base that will hear you.

You can keep writing about the evils of Whitey till the sun burns out, and we both know it will continue to work from a blogging perspective. What it does not do however, is make a damn bit of difference. You and I are both now old enough to recognise that pointing out a wrong and getting people to recognize said wrong, does not mean that the wrong will be righted. I swear, if I hear one more god damn millennial say “you need to recognize...”, I’m going to lose my goddamn mind. As if their generation is the first to be cognisant of racial and social injustices, or that the simple recognition of those injustices will fix anything.

We now have roughly 3 generations of people that were brought up to recognise racial and social injustice. I think its safe to say that we have the numbers to bring on some level of change. Continuing to to simply ask for recognition at this point is about as useless as poor ol Dusty comment to you.

I want to be clear that I am not trying to tell you what you should be doing with regard to your writing. I am trying to voice what I wish you and the rest of the writers at The Root would do more often. As I see it you can be content with being Flavor Flav, or you can be Public Enemy.



Thank you for finally enlightening me on this subject.

I have received a million letters like yours, but you, in your eloquence, finally solved a puzzle that I have been unable to decipher.


I am often asked this question or presented with this argument in various forms. Some of the most popular are:

  • Why must you always talk about racism all the time?
  • Why not offer solutions?
  • Talking about race and prejudice only leads to more divisiveness.

But you’ve figured it out for me, Bill. Because of your letter, I finally understand:

White people have amnesia.

You’re partially right, Bill: I often point the finger at white people when it comes to racism. But the idea that I or any writer at The Root never speaks about solutions is either a blatant attempt to ignore the facts or a goddamn lie.


I will not call you a liar, Billy.

But if you are not a liar, then you are either stupid or you have a strain of forgetfulness I like to call sudden-onset Caucasian amnesia. Let’s examine the facts:

When I, or other writers, talk about the blatant, systematic racism in the criminal-justice system, white people accuse us of “playing the victim” and not offering solutions. Either they are making the argument up, or white people’s Wi-Fi can’t download the incessant number of articles I and others writers here have written about how to change the criminal-justice system by voting, electing local prosecutors, getting engaged in activism, reorganizing the bail system and organizing communities.


When we talk about education disparities, apparently you skipped by the posts about HBCUs, reforming school districts or community-based education projects. We tried to make it simple for your white mind, Bill, by highlighting our list of black children excelling in education with our Young Futurists series. We put it on our banner. We shone a light on them. Perhaps you aren’t an overly sensitive snowflake crying every time you see the word “white people” on a black site. Maybe you just missed it.


When we talk about police violence, we offer solutions. When we discuss mass incarceration, we talk about ideas. We have written articles specifically aimed at white people who want to combat white supremacy.


In fact, there is not one single subject we have tackled here at The Root for which we have not addressed our own community about solving the problem among ourselves, whether it is inner-city crime, gang violence or bringing our own seasoning to white gatherings.


Your letter reminds me of the people who are anti-Black Lives Matter. Anyone who has ever lived in a black neighborhood will tell you that for every #BlackLivesMatter march, there are 10 Stop the Violence rallies. But Fox News never shows up at those events. Media outlets don’t give them publicity, but they will point the camera at any white face willing to ask, “But what about black-on-black crime?”

Every single day this place focuses on black excellence and highlights those who are engaged in eliminating white supremacy. We have criticized both black and white alike. If you don’t see it, it’s because you have chosen to remain willfully ignorant.


Or maybe you’re a goddamn liar.

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


White people, no one believes your bullshit except for you. No matter how many times you try to convince us that you aren’t racist, or you don’t vote for discriminatory practices/politicians...we don’t fucking believe you.

Demographics don’t lie. If you wanted to eliminate systemic racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. you would have fucking done it already. There’s nothing stopping you from doing it now. Y’all just don’t want to, but you also don’t want to feel bad because you don’t want to.