speaking of halle berry

i tumbled upon this interesting thread today at black hair media.com.  i personally feel that, of course, they “should be able to” call themselves black women.  i am all about self-identifying as one sees fit.  i wonder what kind of run-ins the questioner has had with biracial women with white mothers that would instigate such an inquiry.  in my opinion, many (certainly not all, or even most) biracial women that i know who have white mothers (into which category fall most of the biracial people i know) not only identify themselves as black, but seem more steeped in black culture than… well… than… me.  i have some theories as to why that is… i’m reluctant to share them… i’m going to sleep on it and hopefully grow a pair overnight, then come back and update this post adding my speculations tomorrow or sometime this weekend.

Topic: biracial women with white mothers
Posted: Today at 11:21am
-Do you think that biracial women with white mothers and black fathers should be able to call themselves black women? I get frustrated with this because how can they be a black woman when they didn’t even come from one and really don’t know much about us. I don’t think they should get that title. I hate hearing Halle Berry (who has a white mother) be called “The most beautiful black woman). To me, that just seems unfair. Who else feels this way?
-I don’t think anyone who’s biracial (that is, black and white) regardless of which one of their parents is black or white should be calling themselves black. If the mother’s white and the father’s black, you are mulatto. If the mother’s black and the father’s white you are a mulatto. Case closed.
 -i use to feel this way..but honestly it all about how they are raise..if they want to identify themselves as white or black they have the right to..what would you say if it were you? AlSO, i rather someone tell me their either black or white.. rather than running around screamin “im mixed” all the time.
 -You know what I just realized??…why do people think of mutliracial people like they are slices of pizza???

Genetics dont work like that.
 -I think white people call every bi racial person black just because they are darker.
Ive only see people sometimes calling biracial white in Africa.
Plus, for me its hard to see biracial peeps with white mothers who raised them feeling they are black just because they have white culture. When you have a black mother and live with her, you feel black just because of what your mother taught you.
But some biracial with white moms, who know they are rejected by their white part, take advantage on the black community since they like them. I guess OP thats the Hally berry case.
-um it depends. i think mixed girls with white moms tend to be more whitewashed. i dont view some of them as true black people because they identified with their white mom more so of course they are gonna have that white influence.  vs. a mixed person with a black mom who was the main influence a lot of times u can just tell a difference. plus some of them like hauts said feel better than regular blacks and take advantage of the praise and attention. NOT ALL MIXED PEOPLE, BUT SOME
also if you are half nonblack and half black, you cannot be the prettiest black anything. how that work when half your genes come from a white woman? halle may be the prettiest mixed woman but her beauty cannot represent black women b/c she is not fully black.

oh… baby nahla…

sorry for the sporadic posting.  i’ve been working out of town and it’s harder than i’d anticipated to keep up with the blog.

anywho, i figured i’d get around to acknowledging this mess….

some readers and viewers and friends have asked me how i feel about this, and all i can say is that it makes me sad.  i just do not understand the impetus to uphold the one drop rule.  i’m baffled.  it’s so illogical to me.  it clearly only applies to racially mixed with black people.  i’d go so far as to say that it only applies to racially mixed black and white people.  i am quite sure that other mixes do not have such strict identification restrictions.  if you are anything other than black + white, you are not so harshly criticized for claiming the whole of yourself (not that i believe that racial categories constitute the whole of a human self.) i totally understand allegiance to the black community.  i understand that society’s gonna view you one way if you look one way (however, i think the jury’s still out on nahla’s phenotype.)  regardless of that though, i think we’re coming to a time in the collective consciousness of humanity, where it’s most important to be what you are.  regardless of history or politics.  the best we can do is be who we are.  and once we each accept and embrace our authentic selves, it’ll be so much easier to accept and embrace our fellow man as his/her authentic self. whoever they say they are.  whatever they show us they are.  and it’s by defying these antiquated “rules” that we free ourselves and each other to… be ourselves… and each other…

but back to nahla, i’m confident that she’ll find her way, find herself. but, goodness gracious i think her parents are going to make it much more difficult than necessary with this “she’s black because there’s a one drop rule” vs. “don’t you call my child black” (see below) nonsense that we’ve read about… ay yai yai

via TMZ

Sources connected with the former couple tell TMZ … whenever Gabriel would read a story about Nahla that referred to her as “black,” he would go off, insisting his baby was white.  We’re told Gabriel would tell Halle and others they should demand a “retraction” when such references were made regarding his daughter.

As TMZ previously reported, sources tell us Gabriel has called Halle the “N” word  — and one woman previously involved with him referred to him as a “borderline racist.”

Halle Berry on her daughter’s race and interracial romance

As her custody battle with ex Gabriel Aubry turns ugly, Halle Berry is speaking out to the March issue of Ebony magazine about their daughter Nahla and the role that race plays in her own relationships.

The Oscar winner, whose mother is white and father is black, tells Ebony that she identifies herself as a black woman but plans to let 2 1/2-year-old Nahla — whose dad is white and French Canadian — make her own decision about her race when she’s old enough.

“I’m not going to put a label on it,” she says. “I had to decide for myself, and that’s what she’s going to have to decide — how she identifies herself in the world. And I think, largely, that will be based on how the world identifies her. That’s how I identified myself.”

But, Berry adds, “I feel like she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.”

Regardless, the actress acknowledges that being biracial isn’t easy.

“If you’re of multiple races, you have a different challenge, a unique challenge of embracing all of who you are but still finding a way to identify yourself, and I think that’s often hard for us to do,” she explains. “I identify as a black woman, but I’ve always had to embrace my mother and the white side of who I am, too. By choosing, I’ve often [wondered], ‘Well, would that make her feel like I’m invalidating her by choosing to identify more with the black side of myself?'”

Like Aubry, Berry’s current boyfriend, actor Olivier Martinez, is white, but she tells Ebony love has nothing to do with skin color.

“I’m very connected to my community, and I want black people to know that I haven’t abandoned them because I’ve had a child with a man outside of my race and I’m dating someone now outside of my race who is Spanish and French,” says Berry, who has romanced men from a variety of ethnic groups.

“I have never been more clear about who I am as a black woman…the people I have dated sort of hold up a mirror to me and help me realize more of who I really am,” she said. “And who I really am is a black woman who is struggling to make my race proud of me, who is struggling to move black women forward in the profession I’ve chosen, and those relationships have actually helped me identify myself more clearly. Not to say that I wasn’t able to do that when I was married to two black men, but it certainly hasn’t detracted from feeling very connected to my community, and who I really am at my core.”

Berry goes on to say that “the truth is that it’s taken me a long time to learn how to love myself, and color isn’t really a part of what I look at when I’m deciding who I want to spend time with. I look for the soul, the person, the evolution, what he believes in, who [he is as a person] and how does it affect me in a positive way.”

Divorced from athlete David Justice and singer Eric Benet, Berry has vowed to never marry again, but now says she might make an exception.

“The only reason I would is if I found somebody who proved to be on-another-level special to me,” she says. “And if for some reason I felt like it would be important for Nahla and her sense of family unit. I’ve been married twice, and [the marriages] didn’t work out. They were painful divorces, and I’m not so sure I ever want to subject myself to that kind of pain and heartbreak again. I don’t know if I can.”

speaking of drake…

I’m super-curious about this guy and am itching to know more about the experiential intricacies of his Black/Jewish upbringing, and how he reflects on all of that from where he sits currently as the “New Jew in Hip-Hop.”  I don’t think this is a direct quote from Drake, but it rings true:  “Finally, his outsider background has become an asset.”  That’s exactly how I feel about my own self and I wouldn’t be surprised if a multitude of biracials are emerging into the same space of appreciation for the experience and are cultivating ways to make use of it in a world that was not ready to handle our truth before.  Some still aren’t ready.  Look out, some!

The New Face of Hip-Hop


New York Times

For most of his teenage years Drake, tall, broad and handsome, was still known as Aubrey Graham (Drake is his middle name) and played the basketball star Jimmy Brooks on the popular Canadian teenage drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” In the last 18 months, though, he’s become the most important and innovative new figure in hip-hop, and an unlikely one at that. Biracial Jewish-Canadian former child actors don’t have a track record of success in the American rap industry.

But when “Thank Me Later” (Aspire/Young Money/Cash Money) is released this week, it will cement Drake’s place among hip-hop’s elite. It’s a moody, entrancing and emotionally articulate album that shows off Drake’s depth as a rapper, a singer and a songwriter, without sacrificing accessibility. That he does all those things well marks him as an adept student of the last 15 years: there’s Jay-Z’s attention to detail, Kanye West’s gift for melody, Lil Wayne’s street-wise pop savvy.

In rapid fashion Drake has become part of hip-hop’s DNA, leapfrogging any number of more established rappers. “I’m where I truly deserve to be,” Drake said over quesadillas at the hotel’s lobby bar. “I believe in myself, in my presence, enough that I don’t feel small in Jay’s presence. I don’t feel small in Wayne’s presence.”

But “Thank Me Later” is fluent enough in hip-hop’s traditions deftly to abandon them altogether in places. Finally his outsider background has become an asset. As a rapper, Drake manages to balance vulnerability and arrogance in equal measure, a rare feat. He also sings — not with technological assistance, as other rappers do, but expertly.

Then there’s his subject matter: not violence or drugs or street-corner bravado. Instead emotions are what fuel Drake, 23, who has an almost pathological gift for connection. Great eye contact. Easy smile. Evident intelligence. Quick to ask questions. “He’s a kid that can really work the room, whatever the room,” said his mother, Sandi Graham. “Thank Me Later” has its share of bluster, but is more notable for its regret, its ache.

As for Ms. Berry’s cousin, Drake’s interested, of course, but wary. “I think I have to live this life for a little bit longer before I even know what love is in this atmosphere,” he said. More fame only means less feeling, he knows.

Dodging vulnerability has been a fact of Drake’s life since childhood. His parents split when he was 3. An only child, he lived with his mother, who soon began battling rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that eventually prevented her from working, forcing Drake to become responsible at a young age. “We would have this little drill where, Lord forbid something happened, if there was a fire or an emergency, he would have to run outside and get a neighbor and call 911,” Ms. Graham said. His father, Dennis, who is black, was an intermittent presence — sometimes struggling with drugs, sometimes in jail.

“One thing I wasn’t was sheltered from the pains of adulthood,” Drake said. When something upset him as a teenager, he often told himself: “That’s just the right now. I can change that. I can change anything. The hand that was dealt doesn’t exist to me.’ ”

From an early age he’d been interested in performing, whether rewriting the lyrics to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or spending time as a child model. By then, he and his mother were living in Forest Hill, a well-to-do, heavily Jewish neighborhood on the north side of Toronto, where he attended local schools, often the only black student in sight. His mother is white and Jewish, and Drake had a bar mitzvah. At school he struggled academically and socially. “Character-building moments, but not great memories,” he recalled. In eighth grade he got an agent and was soon sent off to audition for “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” an updated version of the popular 1980s Canadian drama.

He auditioned after school, on the same day, he said, that he first smoked pot from a bong. Nevertheless he landed the role of the wealthy, well-liked basketball star Jimmy Brooks, who was originally conceived as a white football player.

“Part of his journey is trying to figure where he does fit in in the world, having a white Jewish mom and a black, often absentee father,” said Linda Schuyler, a creator of the show. “It’s almost a comfort factor with Jimmy Brooks. That was the antithesis of his life at the time. It was probably reassuring and a bit escapist for him to play that role.”

Sometimes he was hiding even when the cameras were off, sleeping on the show’s set. “When I woke up in the morning, I was still the guy that could act and laugh,” he said. “It’s just that home was overwhelming.” Along with “Degrassi” came a new, more diverse school closer to the set, where he first tried rapping in public. As he got older, he also tried out his verses on one of his father’s jailhouse friends, who listened over the phone…


the gains to be realized from black-white intermarriage

What a life! From the seemingly extreme “Take that eugenics!”attitude of her parents, to the prodiginous achievements of her childhood, on to the “passing” years Philippa Schuyler’s story encompasses so many fascinating facets of the “biracial” experience of old.

Philippa Schuyler


Classical pianist, writer

One of the most unusual and perhaps most tragic figures in American cultural history, Philippa Schuyler gained national acclaim as a child prodigy on the piano. Her picture graced the covers of weekly news magazines, and she was hailed as a young American Mozart. Schuyler’s life during adulthood, however, was a difficult one. She struggled with racial discrimination and with issues related to her mixed-race background, traveling the world in an attempt to find not only musical success but also an identity and a place in the world. She turned to writing in the early 1960s, visiting war zones as a newspaper correspondent, and she was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1967. After her death she was mostly forgotten for several decades, but her life story was told in a 1995 biography.

Philippa Duke Schuyler was born on August 2, 1931, in New York and brought up in Harlem at the height of the area’s cultural flowering. The complexities of her life began with her background, for she had two singular parents. Her father George Schuyler was a journalist who wrote for one of the leading black newspapers of the day, the Pittsburgh Courier, and he was well acquainted with numerous writers in both black and white journalistic circles. He was not a civil rights crusader like many of his Harlem contemporaries, but rather a conservative satirist who rejected the idea of a distinctive black culture and later in life joined the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society. Philippa Schuyler’s mother, Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, was a white Southern belle from a Texas ranch who had married George Schuyler after coming to New York to escape a wealthy family of unreconstructed racists. They all refused to attend concerts Philippa Schuyler gave in Texas at the height of her fame.

Schuyler’s parents were in the grip of several novel theories and fads, some of which they devised themselves. They fed Philippa raw vegetables, brains, and liver, believing that cooking leached vital nutrients out of food. And, in contrast to the now-discredited but at the time widely held belief in eugenics, which formed the basis for Nazi ideas of racial purity, they claimed that racial mixing could produce a superior “hybrid” sort of human. That notion had strong effects on Philippa Schuyler’s life, for the Schuylers planned to make their daughter into Exhibit A for the gains that could be realized from black-white intermarriage.

And, indeed, the plan seemed to work. Schuyler walked before she was a year old, was said to be reading the Rubaiyat poems of Omar Khayyam at two and a half, and playing the piano and writing stories at three. When she was five, Schuyler underwent an IQ test at Columbia University; it yielded the genius-level figure of 185. She made rapid progress on the piano, and due to Mr. Schuyler’s connections it wasn’t long before stories about Philippa began to appear in New York newspapers.

Schuyler’s mother, described by the New York Times as “the stage mother from hell, blending a frustrated artist’s ambition with an activist’s self-righteousness,” started to enter her in musical competitions. Schuyler did spectacularly well and was a regular concert attraction by the time she was eight. Just short of her ninth birthday, New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named a day after her at the New York World’s Fair. But her childhood was an isolated one; she was taught mostly by private tutors and had no friends her own age. Her mother, who fired her piano teachers whenever she began to get close to one emotionally, beat her regularly.

For a period of time during World War II, Schuyler was a national child star. She wrote a symphony at age 13, and leading composer and critic Virgil Thomson pronounced it the equal of works that Mozart had written at that age after the New York Philharmonic performed it in 1945. A concert Schuyler performed with the Philharmonic soon after that was attended by a crowd of 12,000, and profiles of the attractive teen appeared in Time, Look, and The New Yorker. Schuyler was promoted by the black press in general, not just in her father’s Pittsburgh Courier, as a role model, and she certainly inspired a generation of black parents to sign their kids up for piano lessons.

But there were pitfalls ahead for the talented youngster. When she was 13, she discovered a scrapbook her mother had kept of her accomplishments, and more and more she began to feel like an exotic flower on display. On tour, especially in the South, she began to experience racial prejudice, something of which she had been mostly unaware during her sheltered upbringing. Bookings began to dry up, except in black-organized concert series. Observers have offered various explanations as to why. Schuyler herself and many others pointed to discrimination; the world of classical music has never been a nurturing one for African-American performers, and in the 1940s very few blacks indeed had access to major concert stages. Some felt that Schuyler’s playing, although technically flawless, suffered from an emotionless quality brought on by the strictures of her demanding life. And Schuyler faced a problem she had in common with other teenage sensations—the tendency of the spotlight to seek out the next young phenomenon.

Though Schuyler briefly fascinated the nation as a mulatto child prodigy, white America lost interest in her as she aged.

Schuyler and her mother reacted by once again calling in George Schuyler’s connections; he had friends in Latin American countries, and Schuyler began to give concerts there. In 1952 she visited Europe for the first time. Schuyler enjoyed travel, and, like other black performers, found a measure of unprejudiced acceptance among European audiences. Over the next 15 years she would appear in 80 countries and would master four new languages, becoming proficient enough in French, Portuguese, and Italian that she could write for periodicals published in those languages. She traveled to Africa as well as Europe, performing for independence leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and Haile Selassie in Ethiopia—but also passing for white in apartheid-era South Africa. Schuyler began to resist the pressure that still came from her parents, but she remained close to them, writing to her mother almost daily and becoming their chief means of financial support.

Her income came not only from music but also from lectures she gave to groups such as the virulently anti-internationalist John Birch Society, for Schuyler had come to share her father’s conservative politics. Despite her performances in newly independent African capitals, she came to adopt a positive outlook on European colonialism.

Confused and fearful about the future, Schuyler took steps in two new directions. First, since her ethnic identity seemed uncertain to those who had never encountered her, she began in 1962 to bill herself as Felipa Monterro or Felipa Monterro y Schuyler. She even obtained a new passport in that name. Her motivation seems to have been split between a desire to have audiences judge her without knowing of her African-American background, and a broader renunciation of her black identity. The ruse convinced audiences for a time, but the reviews of her concerts were mixed, and she soon abandoned the effort.

Second, Schuyler began to write. Traveling the globe, she filed stories from political hot spots for United Press International and later for the ultraconservative Manchester Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire.  She wrote several books and magazine articles as well, and at her death she left several unpublished novels in various stages of completion. One of them evolved into an autobiography, Adventures in Black and White, which was published in 1960.

She traveled to Vietnam to do lay missionary work, supporting U.S. military action there and writing a posthumously published book about American soldiers, Good Men Die. She founded an organization devoted to the aid of children fathered by U.S. servicemen, and on several occasions she assisted Catholic organizations in evacuating children and convent residents from areas of what was then the nation of South Vietnam as pro-North Vietnamese guerrillas advanced. It was on one of those evacuation missions, on May 9, 1967, that Schuyler’s helicopter crashed into Da Nang Bay. She drowned, for she was unable to swim. Shortly before her death, she had written a letter that seemed to suggest a political change of heart, expressing sympathy with black activist leader Stokely Carmichael.

Schuyler’s funeral was held at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and in death she was once again in the headlines. Two years after her death, Schuyler’s mother hanged herself in her Harlem apartment. A New York City school was named after Schuyler, but her name dropped into temporary obscurity. She became better known with the publication in 1995 of Composition in Black and White: The Life of Philippa Schuyler, a biography by Kathryn Talalay. In 2004, star vocalist Alicia Keys was signed to portray Schuyler in a film co-produced by actress Halle Berry. “This story is so much about finding your place in the world,” Keys told Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper. “Where do we really fit in, in a world so full of boxes and categories?”



This strikes me as complete and utter bull****.  Excuse me, bologna is more appropriate for this forum.  I just don’t see how you can conduct a scientific study based on personal opinion.  Perceived attractiveness is not a science.  I have a theory that mixed race people have an interesting look, for lack of a better way to put it.  Since we are still a relatively small group, I think there’s something in a mixed race face that may make one take note.  A gaze may linger while a mind tries to process and perhaps dissect what it’s looking at.  And that probably prompts the occasional, “What are you?”  In my opinion, that does not equal more attractive, but I see how it could be misconstrued that way.

I also object to the antiquated notion of heterosis being used in this way- heck, in any way.  Cross-breeding!?  This leads me to believe that Dr. Lewis looks at race as more than a social construct.  I seriously disagree.

Lastly, the notion that because Halle Berry, Lewis Hamilton, and Barack Obama have risen to the top of their respective fields we are to infer that mixed race people are more successful on average makes my skin crawl.  More successful than whom?  Their black counterparts?  That must be what it means because I don’t think anyone can so easily forget the 40+ white presidents, 70+ white actresses, and I don’t know exactly how many (but most likely all) of the former Formula 1 champions that preceded these super-attractive, super-successful mulattoes.  UGH!  So glad I chose not to spend a semester at Cardiff!

Mixed-race people are ‘more attractive’ and more successful, results of a new study suggest.

The Cardiff University study involved rating 1,205 black, white, and mixed-race faces.

Each face was judged on its attractiveness, with mixed-race faces generally perceived as more attractive.

Author of the study, Dr Michael Lewis, also suggested mixed-race people were disproportionately successful in many professions.

The study based its hypothesis on Darwin’s notion of heterosis, the biological phenomenon that predicts that cross-breeding leads to offspring that are genetically fitter than their parents.

Dr Lewis said the phenomenon was mirrored in the results of his study.

“The results appear to confirm that people whose genetic backgrounds are more diverse are, on average, perceived as more attractive,” Dr Lewis said.

Yet there is reason to believe that mixed-race people may not just be more attractive, but more successful.

Dr Lewis said: “There is evidence, albeit anecdotal, that the impact of heterosis goes beyond just attractiveness.

“This comes from the observation that, although mixed-race people make up a small proportion of the population, they are over-represented at the top level of a number of meritocratic professions like acting with Halle Berry, Formula 1 racing with Lewis Hamilton – and, of course, politics with Barack Obama.”

Dr Lewis will present his findings to the British Psychological Society’s annual meeting on Wednesday.


Halle Berry 17 years ago

It’s hard to believe that Halle Berry’s been on my radar screen for about 20 years now.  I have lots of respect for her, so I am in no way picking on her (or her mother) by questioning some of the things she said in this article from Ebony magazine in 1992. I wonder if she still feels the same way today. I wonder if Nahla has had an impact on Halle’s concept of black, white, and biracial. I wonder if I’ll ever get to have a conversation with her about it!

Norment, Lynn. “Halle Barry: strictly business about show business.” Ebony. 1992

Confronting life’s obstacles is nothing new for Berry, who overcame the potentially damaging problem of being born to a Black father and White mother in a racist society.

Berry’s father left when Halle was 4, and she and her sister, Heidi, were raised by her mother, Judith. Race was never a problem, Berry says, growing up in Cleveland’s inner-city neighborhoods. All that changed when they moved to a racially mixed suburb and young Halle began hearing the taunts–“half-breed,” “mulatto” and “Oreo cookie”–and wondered what it all meant.

Judith Berry didn’t mince words.

“I’m White, and you are Black,” was her mother’s explanation. “Sure I can say that I’m biracial and technically I am,” says Halle, “but, as my mother said to me: ‘What do you see when you look in the mirror? You see what everyone else sees. They don’t know who your mother is, and they aren’t going to care.””

Since that conversation, Berry has called herself Black and now sees benefits from both of her heritages. She has little sympathy, she says, for individuals who use their biracial backgrounds as excuses for their troubles.

“I think the problems are made worse when people get on talk shows and make statements like, ‘I had a hard time because I was caught in the middle,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be that way. I think being biracial is one of the best things in the world.”

Norment, Lynn. “Halle Barry: strictly business about show business.” Ebony. 1992

I don’t really appreciate the “potentially damaging problem of being born to a Black father and White mother” statement. To me it seems like Norment had “tragic mulatto” on her mind when she wrote this.  When I look at that picture of Halle Berry and her mother, I can see the resemblance. I wonder if what other people see and care about still matters more to people than what they as an individual see and care about in terms of their own sense of self. I mean, my retort would be “when I look in the mirror I see you somewhere in my reflection, and why should I not care who my mother is because ‘they’ won’t?”