Race Card: The Racial Divide in the Reaction to Halle Berry’s Custody Battle
Which one is uglier: Halle Berry’s custody battle or the public’s reaction to it? The more comments I read on the web about Berry’s fight for custody of daughter, Nahla, the more I’m convinced of the latter.
Make no mistake. I’m not saying that the battle between Berry and her ex Gabriel Aubry over Nahla isn’t a nasty one. After all, Berry’s camp insinuated that Aubry was an unfit father. The French Canadian model has also been accused of hurling the N-word at Berry. These racial allegations have resulted in all sorts of mudslinging—with commenters on mainstream (or non-black owned websites) calling Berry vicious names, and commenters on black sites using the allegation that Aubry hurled slurs at Berry to justify why interracial relationships should be avoided.
On the gossip website Celebitchy, one of the more civil celeb sites, the readership not only overwhelmingly sided with Aubry but also expressed disbelief that he may have used the N-word while arguing with Berry.
“Sounds to me like she’s trying to pull the race card, which is pretty low when you consider that the guy obviously has no problems being with a black woman, nor having a mixed race child with her,” one commenter wrote.
Another remarked, “I have to side with Gabriel here. He doesn’t seem to be the type who would throw out racial slurs.”
One more commented, “Disgusting that Halle is playing the race card. Gabriel is Canadian, and the N-word isn’t used here.”
Why am I highlighting the above comments? Because they all contain common misconceptions about race. I’m not on Berry’s side or Aubry’s side in the battle over Nahla, but I do want to point out that just because someone is romantically involved with a person of another race doesn’t mean he would never make racist remarks or behave in a racist manner. By that logic, Strom Thurmond, a staunch segregationist, would not be racist because he was in a relationship with a black woman and fathered a child with her. As for the second comment, who does seem the type to use racial slurs? If Aubry looked more like Jeff Foxworthy and less like a fashion model, would he fit the bill more? Lastly, the N-word isn’t used in Canada? Really? Someone better alert Canadian rapper Drake. He must be out of the loop, considering that his songs are littered with the word. Seriously, why does the belief persist that racism is a non-factor in certain countries? Unless the nation in question is completely racially homogeneous, racism is an issue.
While commenters on mainstream sites such as Celebitchy and TMZ largely vilified Berry for playing the “race card,” this wasn’t the reaction at black-centered websites like Bossip.com. There, most commenters didn’t question whether Aubry had or hadn’t used slurs during disagreements with Berry. Some, though, did make the mistake of assuming that all interracial relationships reach a point where racial slurs are exchanged.
For example, one Bossip commenter wrote, “See that’s why I’ve always been wary of interracial white/black relationships.”
Added another, “When will our people come to the reality that these relationships just don’t work out?”
Halle Berry’s relationship should not be used to predict that other interracial relationships will fail. Any number of factors could have made Berry and Aubry incompatible. For starters, there’s the fact that the two are almost a decade apart in age and worlds apart in the money they make. So, why jump to the conclusion that this relationship didn’t work out because of race? In fact, when the two first announced their split, rumor had it that the age difference caused the breakup. Who knows? It’s simply irresponsible to say that because one famous interracial couple didn’t work out, no other such couple can.
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