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Halle's 'One Drop' Belief Causes Outrage

Father and daughter in happier times'I feel she's black. I'm black and I'm her mother.'

Actress Halle Berry has caused an outrage around the world by claiming in an interview with Ebony magazine that she believes in America's controversial and racist 'One Drop Rule'. Speaking about her mixed-race daughter Nahla she had with ex-partner Gabriel Aubry who is white, Halle said: 'I feel she's black. I'm black and I'm her mother, and I believe in the 'one-drop' theory.'

Halle also told the magazine, however, that her daughter will undoubtedly have to decide what race she thinks she is when she is old enough to have all the facts. She added that she had to decide herself and said it is not something she’d like to put a label on.

According to celebrity gossip site TMZ, however, French-Canadian model Gabriel did not like his daughter being identified as black. According to a source close to the model, Gabriel would insist that the mixed-race child was white and told Berry that they should demand a retraction from publications that printed such statements. Aubry, 34, is yet to respond to the allegations.

It seems the sensible thing would be to describe Nahla as mixed-race a term which would show both parent's racial background but Halle seems reluctant to identify with the term mixed-race although she has always acknowledged her racially mixed background.

Describing her daughter as Black ignores her white family and could be an indication of why Gabriel is so angry. It is never an easy time when a relationship breaks down but when it is in the public domain, it can be catastrophic and Halle will lose a lot of support from those who will see her as being stuck in the 20th century and perpetuating racist and outdated ideas.

It does seem that many celebrities are reluctant to stand up and be counted when it comes to identifying as mixed-race and it raises the question of who brings about social change. It has rarely been those in what we would call safe positions because a lot of the problems and obstacles that come with racial prejudice are behind them and the few they do come into contact with can be softened by the money and social acceptance they have already acquired.

We also assume that because someone is famous and accomplished in one particular field that they are so in other areas. It's clear Halle still has a lot to learn about how racism is presented in different societies. She probably never thinks that every role she accepts deprives a black actress of work. We can already see mixed-race being used as the acceptable face of black and Halle in her ignorance is contributing to that. She can happily accept a wide variety of roles because of how she looks, in fact she is one of the few actresses of colour who has played a white woman. To date no black actress can say that.

In the end it will probably not be icons like Halle Berry who bring about social change although they will provide plenty of examples of what not to do. It will be the ordinary man or woman in the street who is prepared to stand up and be counted and not let outdated and racist rules dictate who they are.

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