Entertainment & Culture
Everything You Wanted To Know About Being Petty But Were Afraid To Ask

The word of the year for 2016 is “petty.” Although it is difficult to explain, we all know someone who is petty. I have a friend who might be the 2nd pettiest person on earth, and she is self-aware enough to know it. She claps back at everything and everybody–even when that thing or body didn’t clap at her first. She is pettier than a motherfucker, and I love it. I stay as far away from it as I can, but I watch it from afar like a train wreck or a Presidential election.

But perhaps you aren’t familiar with the concept of petty. Maybe you haven’t been on the black side of the internet this year. Maybe you are old. Maybe you are white. There are legitimate reasons why you might have failed to hop aboard the petty train. Luckily NegusWhoRead is here to help.

What is Petty? When one is petty, they are vengeful, but only about trivial shit. Petty Pendergrasses don’t want reparations for slavery, but if you say something about them to a co-worker, they will warn everyone at the office to be careful using the toilet after you, because you confided in them that you have a case of crabs so terrible that even prescription pubic lice medicine couldn’t cure.

Yes, not only are petty motherfuckers vindictive, but they are as creative as they are vengeful. If you unknowingly park in a Petty Shabazz’s space, they won’t have your car booted, or towed–they will slip a half-sucked watermelon Jolly Rancher and a colony of baby fire ants through the slit in your car window.

Then they will offer you calamine lotion.

Why do they do it? Spite.

Just spite? Just spite. The average Petty Murphy wasn’t abused as a child. They didn’t grow up poor or lacking guidance. Petty motherfuckers just choose not to let anything go. If you do anything that they find objectionable, they are going to come for you. Even if you didn’t mean to come for them. Do not confuse a Petty Wop with a backstabber. A Petty Van Halens will stab you in the chest.

But first they will dip the knife in dookey.

How can you avoid the wrath of a petty person? You can’t. Your only choice is to stay as far away from them as possible. Apologies don’t work. For them, a mea culpa only serves as additional confirmation for the inevitable clapback. They are sensitive and they are always looking for opportunities to unsheathe their avenging sword. I once worked with a woman so petty she took offense when someone said her sweater was ugly on ugly sweater day! I immediately warned the offender that he should prepare to be thirsty at work for the next 365 days. A week later he was asking everyone if they thought the coffee tasted funny today. Everyone said no. I knew he probably had pee in his Maxwell House, but I didn’t say anything.

As the great Petty Roosevelt once said, “Walk softly, but carry a petty stick.”

What kind of person does this? Bruh, do you think I’m gonna slander the entire universe of vindictive, bitter assholes at once and have the whole population of Petty Mercurys unite just to come for me? You must be out of your mind. Do you even read NegusWhoRead? Do you know how many people I have offended this year? Hillary voters. Bernie Bros. Trumpites. Tupac fans. Hoteps. The Beyhive. White Allies. Social Justice Warrriors. Talib Kewli fans.

OK, maybe there’s no such thing as Talib Kweli fans, but there’s no way I am going to invite the entire Petty-een Cartel into the line of people who want to shoot a kag under me.

Can you give me a few examples of pettiness? Of course. Kim Kardashian waiting months to release the video of Taylor Swift agreeing to the song “Famous” was classic pettiness. Petty Bears always bring receipts.

The dark-skinned Aunt Vivian broke a centuries-old record when she revived a 23-year old beef with Will Smith. In what is now referred to as the “Pettysburg Address,” Janet Hubert dropped a YouTube video roasting Will and Jada for boycotting the Oscars over the mountain of mediocrity that was Concussion, because she was mad when Will didn’t back her in contract negotiations with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air way back in 1993.

Other petty people include: White people who send racist emails. Girlfriends who bleach their boyfriend’s clothes. Anyone on Instagram. The whole of Black twitter.

The biggest unified act of pettiness occurred in 2016 when White Supremacist representative Steve Bannon coalesced neo-nazis, people who dislike Obama, the KKK, and conservatives into a 56% majority of White people who don’t give a fuck, to elect a ununiformed, apricot-colored Dark Sith ball of animosity and ignorance to lead the country into an unending abyss.

The single greatest act of pettiness this year, however, was the guy who posted on his ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page:

“You can unfriend me.
You can block me.
You can ignore my messages
You can erase my comments

But you can’t unlick my asshole.”

Who is the pettiest person you know? Oh, this is the easiest question of them all Without a doubt, the king of kings, lord of lords, master and commander of slick-mouthed, vindictive pettiness is Donald J Trump.

Trump doesn’t let anything slide. If you mention The Great Emanci-petty out of the side of your mouth, alone in a darkened room, he will come for you.


As fuck.

Never before in the history of pettiness has anyone’s powers become so strong. It’s like he was bitten by a radioactive, petty- ass spider or was exposed to some petty Gamma rays during a science experiment horribly wrong. Donald Trump is an Incredibly Petty Hulk. I know for a fact that Jeb Bush cried in the car after 2 of the Republican debates.

There is a story about Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair magazine, that demonstrates Trump’s supreme pettiness. Years ago, when Carter founded Spy magazine in the 1980’s, he called Donald Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian,” (which still ranks as one of the most erudite, polite insults I’ve ever heard). Since then, at least once a month, to this day, Donald Trump sends Carter press photos of himself with the fingers circled.

Now that man is the leader of the free world. Because that’s what it takes to get to the top. In the vein of Kim Jung Il, who reportedly fed his uncles to dogs because of a simple disagreement, America has elected Ramsay Bolton as protector of the realm. God help us all.

In fact, the only thing that gives me any comfort is this Bible verse, which I repeat to myself over and over again:

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD

Le-petty-cus 19:18



About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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