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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Is Halle Berry black?

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Black by popular demand

Bitchy comments about Halle Berry's colour show that society is still uneasy with those of mixed parentage

Tania Branigan
Thursday November 21, 2002
The Guardian

Who is black, white and red all over? Halle Berry: Oscar winner, star of the new Bond movie - and, so some have argued, downright fraud.
If critics had their way, she would be scarlet with shame. She was heralded as the first black woman to take the Academy award for best actress, yet her weeping tribute to "women of colour" was apparently a ruse - the implication being that she trades on an ethnicity to which she has at best a partial claim.

The volume of such bitchiness has been growing in the US. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter accused her of "mau-mauing her way" to the award. "It's interesting that Berry makes such a big deal about being black," she wrote, pointing out that the actor's black father abused and then left her white mother. "Clearly, Berry has calculated that it is more advantageous for her acting career to identify with the man who abandoned her rather than the woman who raised her."

Now the London Evening Standard has joined in: "Halle's no black beauty," read the headline, while the (white) journalist helpfully informed us that the star "isn't exactly black". The writer's central point - that those with cafe-au-lait skin fare better in Hollywood than their darker sisters - is unquestionably true.

But by her criterion, half of black culture's most prominent figures are guilty of imposture, from Ms Dynamite to Frederic Douglass, Paul Boateng to Billie Holiday, and Langston Hughes to Louis Farrakhan. Each black; each with one white parent. Black by choice, but also by demand.

We still have mixed feelings about mixing races. Once it both enthralled and appalled us; now we pretend it does not exist. Berry, Boateng, Farrakhan et al are discussed as if they were of wholly black parentage, even - confusingly - where white mothers or fathers get a passing mention. This wilful blindness reflects cultural anxiety. In the past, white fears of "contamination" were so potent that miscegenation was a subject of endless fascination.

Now that we're supposed to be living in a happy rainbow universe, we avoid the topic altogether. To recognise the existence of mixed-race families more openly would be to admit the possibility of a genuinely diverse society, where people of different cultures live together rather than side by side. If the far right see that as their worst nightmare, the rest of us should admit that it remains a dream. We claim to like difference, but on the whole we prefer it at a safe distance.

Berry's critics are attacking her for a choice she never made. Imagine the reaction if she had dared to describe herself as white. She would, presumably, be in denial. How perverse! How terrible! Authors and filmmakers used to adore the theme of light-skinned mulattoes who "passed themselves off" to avoid prejudice. To black writers it was understandable but tragic. To their white counterparts it was often disturbing, provocative or plain uppity. Either way, the message was clear: it was bound to end in disaster. Suicide was a likely fate; at the very best you could hope for exposure, or guilt.

To claim to be white was to deny your true self; "a drop of midnight" outweighed pints of "white" blood in your veins. Our ancestors catalogued each tiny variation: their categories went as far as octoroon, someone who was one-eighth "negro" (and not, as you might think, seven-eighths white). Mixed-race children learned to embrace the identity once foisted on them. Treated as black, they became black - and proud - identifying with the family most likely to welcome them. Now, it appears, half black is Not Black Enough - not even to whitey. So they are frauds if they pass as black people, too, though none denies white parentage. No wonder Berry sounds so weary of the subject: "No person in my whole life has ever thought that I was white," she told Movieline magazine.

Having "passed" as both white and Asian - usually because of others' assumptions rather than by choice - I could be seen as a full-time fraud. My eyes are not round enough for one; my skin is too light for the other. But identities need not be exclusive and I refuse to accept the racist premise that my white inheritance is insignificant. I am proud of both sides of my family, and know that both have shaped me. I see myself as British Asian, but I am also what I look: mixed race.

And I am one of a growing number. More than one in 20 under-fives has mixed parentage; last year, the term made its first appearance on the census form. In truth, of course, everyone is mixed race: there is no such thing as the ethnic purity the far right seeks to preserve. But as long as race remains an issue, "mixed race" will be a category as valid as black or Asian - albeit a category with a large span and imprecise borders. Where cultures bleed into each other there are always unique strengths as well as tensions. We share, explore and, most importantly, develop in new ways.

A mixed-race identity is no less plausible than a black British or British Asian one. And no less valuable.






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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 04:52 AM
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Hey, inneresting article.

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 05:05 AM
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tupaclover - thanks for a great article.

Ann Coulter is a clown. She's a caricature.


The writer makes some excellent points. The fact is, the world is becoming more and more racially and culturally mixed. Hopefully, people will get over their intolerance.

I'm hoping Halle wins another Oscar next year.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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LOL@Ann Coulter!
I really like Halle. She proves we are all more alike than we are different, Halle-luah!
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 05:30 AM
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No Halle is not black nor is she white. Society is not about black and white regardless of what people or ROBOTS would like to believe, there is plenty of grey in between.

She's a women of color just like Mariah.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Halle is BOTH blackand white! Society makes mixed raced people choose one or the other, and in HB's case she identifies as black.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 06:53 AM
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I will report back after closer examination.

You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 06:54 AM
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She's black in that if you saw her for the first time and knew nothing about her background, you wouldn't guess she was mixed. Same with James Blake. They're seen in society as black people. So hmph

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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 07:03 AM
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tupaclover, Halle certainly isn't white. She's delightfully black.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 07:57 AM
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Society has never made me choose white or black. I've always chosen both. James and Halle easily looked mixed at first,second,third glance to me. Society and Halle can say she's black all she/they want to but her white mom gave birth to her and that's a fact. Half of that blood is from a White person so Halle can't be all black. White society cracks me up cause they try to make people think that if they have one iota of a speck of black blood that they have to be considered black or shall I say no sign of white. Personally though if I had to be one or the other I would pick black cause I think black skin and the culture is beautiful. That's why I identify more with Black culture.

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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 08:06 AM
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She´s both ... black and white!

Nobody´s perfect ... but me.

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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 09:35 AM
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I've been in many an argument about this very thing, whether it's Halle Berry or Tiger Woods or whomever. It doesn't matter what society says, if BOTH your parents are not of the same race, then YOU, my friend, are not ONE race. You can pick and chose all you want, but the truth of the matter is you are bi-racial. I don't know why some people still hang on to the belief that you're Black if one of your parents are. Well, what the hell happens to the heritage on the other parent's side? Do you just disinherit that? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We're not talking about mere social acceptance here. We're talking about heritage and culture and identity, whether you own up to it or not.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 10:24 AM
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She's white and black, that's about it Be proud of your heritage.

How do i get?
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 11:24 AM
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I still say she's delightfully black. I understand that some people see her as "mixed". But most black people in North America are mixed in some degree or another.

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 1st, 2002, 01:57 PM
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*sigh* i don't think it's matter whether she's black or white!! as long as she's beautiful and good at acting.


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"If something special happened all the time, it wouldn't be so special.'' - Agassi, Wimby 2003.


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