Haters Gonna Hate

Overly tall, olive-skinned, with full lips and unmanageable curly hair, I looked odd among both the children of German refugees and poor Southern states.

Rodger Clark circa 1980.

I was raised as a lily-white boy, in a lily-white family in a lily-white farming town. A town that was so “white,” even Hitler might have felt a little nervous there. By the time I was ready to leave, I’d probably been called the “N” word to my face as much as anyone alive. Even by my own siblings. Though not very athletic, I also had a great sense of rhythm and could move a little faster and dance a little better than most. I chalked it up to an odd confluence of Celtic and Iberian genes from my English mother’s side. I was just a white boy who for some reason came out looking a little black.

It’s 2017 and genetic testing is cheap. On a whim, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I took one and sure enough… as it turns out, my very proper British, Victorian great-great-grandmama, while living on a Caribbean island with her oft-absent husband, um…. found a cure for her boredom. I am a genetic “throwback.” Whomever my real—African—great, great grandfather was (the handsome devil) evidently had some “extra duties” beyond his regular job. His son, my great-grandfather, looked white enough that his mom, the sneaky old gal, never got caught. Until now that is.

The name-calling began as typical banter between boys. No real malice. There were also a few joking comments from old folks: “Your mama must have got scared by a colored boy!” Stuff like that. But as puberty started, testosterone levels soared and the alpha males established territories, things got more serious. The bullying began, and I became a target for anyone wanting to advance in the social pecking order. Anyone who didn’t fit in was out. Toward the end of high school, things got so bad I carried a weapon, praying I’d never have to use it. I got lucky. I didn’t. But it was a near thing. Of course, thinking I was just another white in an all-white town, it never occurred to me how much my looks factored into it.

After high school, when I moved to civilization, I’d get the occasional curious question. I could always tell someone was from the East Coast when they’d ask about my “nationality.” Blacks would occasionally ask me if I was “mixed.” Now and then I’d get the stare from both blacks and whites. Working on a labor crew with a bunch of guys from Utah, I got kidded for being a “blue gum” or a “dub” (short for double ‘A’—African American) and of course the “N word.” By then I’d developed a sense of humor and I’d ask them if they had any sisters I could date. After the social upheavals of the 60s and 70s, people whose racism was only inherited started to wake up and the barriers started coming down. (Millennials who think that simply mentioning race is racism have never seen the real thing. I have.) My appearance gradually became less and less of a topic for comment.

Now, I could make a joke and say that I became a Scientologist because I missed the bigotry and abuse my looks had once prompted. The fact is, I was just a struggling college student and Scientology Study Technology was the only thing that worked to pull up my grades. Abuse from bigots and drug company media whores was just an extra perk. Since I was already accustomed to dealing with double-digit IQ’s who were long on opinion and short on thinking, I slid right in with no problem.

Looking back, there are several things I’ve learned about bigots over the years:

True bigots are rare. I can count the number of real bigots I’ve met on my fingers and have some fingers left over. It’s just that they are so confident in their arbitrary opinions and make so much noise that they seem numerous. They blow so much smoke that it makes otherwise decent people, including their victims, believe there’s a fire.

As a corollary, the vast majority of people are decent and want to be in a state of amity with their fellow humans, and will search for ways to get there.

Bigots' confidence is all bluster. Their bigotry is there to deflect attention from themselves and their own inadequacy. They are usually ignorant, criminal or are covering up some quirk or perversion. You’ll never find a person with real or exceptional ability who is a bigot. Never.

What and who they hate is irrelevant. It’s the hating that matters to them. If they can’t find one thing to hate, they’ll find another. No matter how they dress it up, no matter how cute, funny, serious, scary or intellectual they sound, they’re just sickos and psychos.

Standing up to them is all that is required. One can stand up to them with stubbornness, persistence, humor, satire, communication or, in extreme cases, force. You don’t have to win, you just have to stand up.

If you don’t stand up, they’ll justify their abuse with more—and worse—abuse.

What and who they hate is irrelevant. It’s the hating that matters to them. If they can’t find one thing to hate, they’ll find another. No matter how they dress it up, no matter how cute, funny, serious, scary or intellectual they sound, they’re just sickos and psychos.

They’ve always been around and always will be. You’ll find them everywhere, in every form. They’re only a problem when people listen to them (or worse, take them seriously).

The worst bigots, the true bigots are completely unaware of their bigotry. They just know they are right, because in their mind they never think or do anything wrong. It’s their world. Everyone else is just in it. Some without permission.

Though the DNA test answered a great many questions about strange interactions that occurred in the past, it didn’t really change anything and I rejected the torch of victimhood. Everyone goes through one kind of crap or another. Mine was quick and easy. Racism is just another superstition, an arbitrary conclusion to cover up ignorance. The sneaky part of any superstition is creating an appearance of truth. Planting a seed of doubt.

Haters gonna’ hate. It’s who they are, it’s what they do. But they don’t matter. They never have.

Photo by: Shawn Pecor / Shutterstock.com

Rodger Clark
Contractor, history buff, compulsive learner, currently in recovery from authoritarian education.