The Ten Clapback Commandments

The pettiness bug has finally bit me.

If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it!

At first, I couldn’t understand why anyone would brag about being petty; but the more I experienced (vicariously or directly) the world’s perpetual assault on Blackness, forcing us to renege on any option to resort to the respectability politics that never protected us anyway, I came to realize that being petty is a means of resistance to an end of shuttin’ shit down!

As being petty undergoes a transformation of colloquial, yet legitimate intolerance for all things bullshit, inaccurate, and particularly anti-Black, I rejoice in finding my lane in the Audobon Highway of pettiness: the clapback.

Through the clapback, pettiness comes out to play and slay! It is not only fun, it is swag-adapted survival for all those who affirm Black people’s humanity, lest they be dragged.

If you’re Black, you’re not new to this. The dozens are as central to our culture as they ever were, and still prove to be a reliable means of building resilience. Unlike the dozens, the clapback is accessible to everyone (and yes, this means White people too) through an online setting. Like many other ciphas (rhyming, smoking, yew name it…), the dozens happen in person, so you have to be there to see/experience it. You could only hope to be an observer. You don’t want to verbally get got. Nothing is out of bounds for the dozens; we’re not Italians. “Yo momma” and family members aren’t off limits.

And don’t even try repeating the jokes somewhere down the line to help others share in the experience they missed. Once the moment has passed, it’s gone forever.

These days, a game of dozens wouldn’t be the smartest thing to conduct in public. Cops are unjustly murdering people B. As it turns out, pettiness (like a number of other forms of resistance) is best served on social media in the form of a clapback for all to witness, participate, and possibly, be read to filth.

And arguably one of the best aspects of the clapback is that its online setting produces receipts in real time; and if you’re like me, you’ve never met a receipt you didn’t respect.

Most importantly, you musn’t forget: there’s levels to this. While I didn’t invent the clapback or its older cousin the dozens, I acknowledge and respect the Code of Petty that engenders the splendor of the clapback; others, intentionally or unintentionally, do not. Petty is as petty does, but even pettiness has standards (not regarding the degree of how low you’ll go, but delivery is a major key).

So, without further adieu, I offer you, The Ten Clapback Commandments (because all clapbacks aren’t created equal)!

You cannot see me if

  1. Your writing is all fucked up (incoherent sentences, bad grammar, improper use of homonyms, etc).
  2. You fail to display logical reasoning skills.
  3. Your analysis misdirects a systemic understanding of root causes for the issue you’re addressing, this includes presenting correlation as causation, and using false equivalents (See: Number 2).
  4. You address something that the person to whom you’re replying never said, which 1) disqualifies your response; and 2) makes everyone pity your poor reading comprehension skills.
  5. You refuse to interrogate information, disabuse yourself of backwards thinking, and change your mind if you’re wrong (in that order).
  6. You perform copious amounts of mental somersaults to miss the point every time. Ev’ry. Bloodclaht. Time.
  7. You cannot distinguish nuances.
  8. You have no receipts (I just clutched the necklace of cowrie shells around my Black ass neck)!
  9. You’re simple (See: Number 6).
  10. Your clapback is not the clapback to end all clapbacks because you failed to 1) elevate the conversation; and 2) break it down so that it can forever and remain broke! Sure there may be some back and forth, but you should aim for your clapback to be that good. If it is not the alpha and the omega of the conversation (See: Number 7), it’s not a clapback.

Enter the arena at your own risk!

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