Illustration: Oscar Bustamante (The Root/G-O)

Of all the things I have ever written for The Root, there are a handful of articles that inspired the most material for the weekly Clapback Mailbag. If I had to rank them from lowest to high in terms of hate mail received, the order would go as follows:

5. “An Open Letter to White People Who Are Upset Because Black Panther is so Racist

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4. “Netflix’s Bird Box Is About How White People Don’t Want to See Racism

3. “The Black Person’s Guide to Game of Thrones

2. “The Five Types of Becky

1. “White People are Cowards

But now, we have a new contender.

On Friday, The Root published an article about White Twitter’s reaction to Disney’s choice for the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

The “not-all-white-people” contingent joined the people who believe in reverse racism, Caucasian oppression, and those who insist that #WhiteLivesMatter to condemn the piece. The backlash was so intense, I literally had to turn off my phone’s notifications on every single social media account.

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Even though the first sentence of the article literally said “a small minority of mistreated Americans cranked up the Caucasian outrage machine,” one the most frequent claims was I was being racist by assigning the outrage to all white people. Conservative writer and accomplished white man Alex Griswold chastised the article with this tweet:

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I tried my best to respond to some of them, but there were too many to clap back at individually. So, for all the naysayers and unbelievers, this week’s Clapback Mailbag will feature a small minority of the emails, tweets and direct messages we received about a cartoon mermaid.

A fictional fucking fish-girl.


It began when aggrieved mayonassians found me on Facebook and gave the three most common refrains of racists:

  1. “One of my best friends/family members is black.”
  2. “If a white person said that...”
  3. “I’m not racist, I’m just set in my ways.”

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Did you notice that Bryan’s “I-know-black-people” verification cosigner was his “former brother-in-law?”

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I wonder why?

And then there was Joe:

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Christopher was upset about Ariel being black because...well, he didn’t actually give a reason when he contacted me on Facebook:

From: Christopher
To: Michael Harriot

Why is it ok to make articles such as yours. You say white people are bug mad about a black person playing Ariel. Well I think people should be upset. She’s fair skin red head with blue eyes. None of which the actress tabbed to play her has. People like you are the reason there is still racism today. When You seperate and segregate people such as the way you did in your article you add gasoline to the fire. Shame on you for that.

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But he wasn’t even the only Christopher who was mad.

From: Christopher
To: Michael Harriot

So I just got done reading your article about how “white” society has an issue with a black little mermaid. While I understand that there are some SERIOUSLY messed up people in ALL RACES, I also know from first hand experience that the “racial” dilemma that the U.S. faces has more to do with the crap that 3rd rate columnists like yourself often blow out of proportion. Because of your article, I will be using what and who I know to point out your obviously very flawed and seriously misguided views to the rest of the world.

Make no mistake about it, your actions are RACE driven just like those if the people you so publicly challenge in your articles. I know freedom of speech and freedom of the press are just part of what Uncle Sam said we have the right to, but unless you personally have fought to keep those freedoms and civil liberties, than please for the love of God shut up. All the big words and thesaurus references in the world doesn’t make you smart. Using your gift to BETTER the world makes you wise. I challenge you to make a positive change, not run at the mouth about how the African American people are still being oppressed by the “white devil.” Irish slaves were massacred in their own land thousands of years before the civil war, Jews were persecuted long before that. How about the Roman empire wiping out entire civilizations! The list goes on what I state is that sometimes it’s time to move on from the past learn from it but don’t live in it.

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The most common claim made by the outraged people was that I was being racist against whites, which is really what’s tearing the country apart, not racism:

From: Fred
To: Michael Harriot

Why is it that the NBA is predominantly black, Lyn Manuel can say no whites allowed for Hamilton, Hollywood choreographers are hugely Black, we have to represent every ethnic minority on the earth and “celebrate” Yet when people of Nordic heritage say HEY that’s my fish you claim its because of white bigotry. You sir are a prime example of Black Bigotry. You are doing NOTHING to calm the tensions in this country yet you represent that you are. How sad and how hypocritical you are.

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But considering that I was once reprimanded and temporarily blocked from Twitter for publicly wishing that a certain representative of the National Rifle Association died in a car crash, I didn’t even report this Facebook message/curse:

From: Kevin
To: Michael Harriot

You’re a racist piece of shit. I hope you get cancer


I know y’all won’t believe this shit, but someone even actually contacted me on LinkedIn pretending to be black!

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LinkedIn!

From: Emmett
To: Michael

Is dat you who wrote the article about ‘white people’ and ‘meteorologists at the White Weather Channel’ ‘ had to issue a flash flood warning because of a sudden deluge or white tears’?

If so, HMU my supremely edumacated black brother and let’s get it straight once and for all.

Oh yea, Shaka, white people love Halley!


I often wonder why racists always default to explaining that they don’t care if a person is “black, white or purple.” (To be clear, if not fucking with purple people is racist, then I’m racist as fuck. I ain’t fucking with anyone who’s purple. I heard they eat people.) But thank God for Rachel, who tried to talk some sense into my racist head while she explained why the white community was so tired of black people:

From: Rachel
To: Michael Harriot
Subject: Enough with the Racism Already!

Michael, Your “Little Mermaid” column or commentary was a little much. In other words, I and most white people are not racist. The black community goes on and on and on about racism and every time we turn around there is someone using accusations of how whites are racist. We are sick of hearing the black community complain that we are racist. as far as the Little Mermaid being black the only thing about this that is quite simple is people are used to Ariel as a white redhead. That’s it nothing more nothing less it has nothing to do with a black person.

If Disney would have made her skin pink and her hair purple it would have been the same response look at the phrases you use you are the one who is racist.: Caucasian outrage .... Oh yes, the whites are at it p the Caucasian outrage Oh yes, the whites are at it meteorologists at the White Weather deluge of white black person had once again stolen a job ....., The musical Hamilton was one of the most successful running musicals ever in history and made more money than any other musical and history and the entire cast was black it’s sold out across the country and people paid $200-$250 a ticket. You need to stop. It just sounds so ridiculous you have no idea

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Here’s a Twitter direct message from Brandyn. I have no idea what he’s talking about:

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But Brandyn wasn’t the only one who threatened legal action for talking about white people:

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Of course, their spelling and grammar matched their logic. The article made Jeremy rethink his life choices, including his decision to serve his country:

From: Jeremy
To: Michael Harriot

Dude you are one if the kost racist black men ive ever heard about. You talk all this shit about white people and you breed this hatred. You keep the hate alive. Youre like one of those Facebook posts meant to incite racist arguememts. Wypipoloogist are you fuckin serious dude?? How you think its gonna go down when i start stereotyping all black men in articles and call myself the world renowned blackpipologst? Youre a hypocrite. You are exactly what you write about just the opposite skin color. Its sad that uneducated fools like yourself and other men of every color cant see past color. Its a skin tone brah nothing more. As long as there are people like you (ignorant) society will surely fail. If there is something that will end humanity it will surely be our inability to treat each other without hate and contempt.

Idk just thought someone should tell you that youre offensive as fuck not all white dudes are what you say. I am truly offended by the dumb unintelligent babble that you write that is only meant to incite more hatred. Had i known what america would of consisted of today i never would of served in the military. You, white men, politicians, civilians, women, extreme left, the right and everything in between just fuckin sucks. I really hate my country and everything yall make out to be.

All of you racist people suck because my sons 2 amd he is mixed and when he is older this world will suck so much for him because of ignorant people like yourself. Now fuck off and write an actual story instead of starting race wars 2019. Do something about those poor kids starving in Venezuela instead of starting a fight over a fuckin kids cartoon. Why the fuck does hate need to breed more hate? Idk keep that shit going if you want but you aint no civil rights activist youre just an angry black man. Go ahead though and breed more hate into the world though and wreck it some more. Sad theroots sometimes has good shit to read then i read your hate shit. Smh.

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There were a lot of people who threatened to remake black movies to retaliate, which I am fine with:

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Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

Jeff was mad that I said that white people think Disney is pandering...

Then he explained why Disney is pandering.

From: Jeff
To: Michael Harriot

All I can say about you sir is fricken WOW!!!!! That article you wrote about a black woman being casted as Ariel in Disney’s live action adaptation of the Little Mermaid could not have been anymore racist than what you made it!!!!! First off, if you guys wouldn’t want to keep changing things than people wouldn’t get upset!!! If it’s not fricken broke then why fricken “fix” it!!! If you would actually take the time to research the original story of the Little Mermaid written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen he CLEARLY describes Ariel as having WHITE skin and blue eyes!!!! Ariel was from DENMARK!!!! Last time I checked people from Denmark were WHITE!!!!!

So maybe next time before your retarded self goes flying off the racist handle half cocked why don’t you actually take the time and do your fricken reasearch properly!!! Then maybe just maybe your bs article might be more accurate!!!!! Do you understand that or do I need to write it out in crayon for you people as usual?!?!?! So why don’t you and the rest of your people quit being so effing racist and quit trying to change everything under the guise of “diversity”!!! And if anyone is woebegone it is you!!! Disney did nothing but cave to political correctness and pandering!!!! You know it. I know it. So why don’t you get over yourself!!!! You sir are nothing more than a racist bigoted piece of trash!!!!

#NotmyAriel #Thisisinnowayinclusive


Tyler hit up my Twitter DM to set me straight on my misunderstanding of history:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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So I responded with receipts:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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So he replied:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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My response:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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He eventually relented by saying that the founders only wanted a certain kind of equality, and that, apparently, the “all men” part was bullshit as far as he is concerned because it was never meant for black people:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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A few people even contacted The Root’s Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton to let her know that she was employing an anti-white hater:

From: John
To: Danielle Belton

Greetings chief,

I’ve just finished looking over many of your company’s propagandists articles. Seems to the rest of the world should bring your company up to speed.

This isn’t the 1960's anymore, Black Americans aren’t oppressed, they’re not underprivileged, and they sure as heck aren’t under the foot of the “white man” anymore.

Your company along with a kotaku, gizmodo, jizebel, lifehacker and countless others promote worthless information. Instead of inciting racial tensions and playing the “black card” your company should be reporting about how corrupt all American politicians are and how they need to be discarded. How the American housing market takes homes away from all kinds of families from Asian families in California, to white families in Illinois, from Black families in Texas to EVERY Hispanic family fleeing their home counties to find asylum where it doesn’t exist anymore.

So many articles that these companies push and publish (including yours) have their own selfish agenda’s. It appears yours is the “oppression of blacks”. If you want to talk about oppression and mistreatment you need to look into every single indigenous native American tribe in the western hemisphere, and those that are fortunate enough to have survived the European purges, colonization, and establishment of colonies that gave birth to new more power hungry nations that sought to expand their territories unjustly.

I could go on to the point where you’d be receiving a book through email. The point is, there far more that needs brought up other than stupid celebrities being casted for the wrong roles. Idiotic tweets, and gripe stories that your writers decided to write because some person other than black ethnicity got on their bad side. Welcome to the 21st century Blacks are racists as well. Tolerance is like freedom, it’s earned not given. How about instead of adding fuel to the fire you stand for what’s right and good not selfish and spiteful.

Want a story look into how mixed people are improperly represented on literally every level. Look into how every American election falsely promise change and only to fill their own coffers. Look into how the American justice system no longer punishes criminals, instead they’re glorified detention centers give connected criminals three hots and a cot. How can a man that rapes or murders get an opportunity to live better than disabled forgotten homeless veterans. Injustices are everywhere don’t spread the word, ring the alarm.

Sincerely,

A better world order activist.


Here’s another Twitter exchange with someone named Beth:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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So I promptly replied:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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Her reply:

Screenshot: Michael Harriot (Twitter)

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So yeah...That happened.