A judge decided this week that Oscar winner Halle Berry’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her child, Gabriel Aubry, cannot straighten or lighten their six-year-old daughter’s hair when she is in his care. The two share custody and Berry complained to a judge recently that Aubry had chemically lightened and straightened their daughter’s hair in an effort to make her appear less black. With all of the talk about race that is going on as a result of the shootings and choking of black men in America, this tidbit of celebrity news has been lost in the shuffle.
I’ve been following the story though and have to say it is disturbing. Here you have a little girl who has a mom who is mixed race and a white father. Nahla’s hair is long, loosely curled and a dirty blonde color…think Mariah Carey in her heyday. That is apparently still too ethnic for her father. We should not be surprised though because Berry stated previousl that Aubry has called her a “nigger” before. While Halle has always been “claimed” by black people, I wonder if she faces some sort of internal dilemma because her daughter is “whiter” looking than she is. I wonder why she married and divorced two black men and had no children and then decided to have one with a white lover. There is no way to know what exactly Halle Berry thinks or why she has taken the actions she has, so I will not waste time pondering that. However, the racial ramifications of her case about hair styling are timely with today’s news about Eric Garner‘s killer going free.
How is this 6-year-old threatening her grown up father? The power of blackness is strong and the fear of whites has given it such power. This man is seeing his own daughter as “other,” which is how slave owners were able time and time again to rape slaves and ignore the slave children they fathered who while may not have possessed their skin tone and hair texture, definitely possessed their eyes, mannerisms, longing for mothers. Black women’s hair has always been a sore spot for white people in general. Mistresses on plantations demanded that it be kept covered out of fear of their husbands and sons admiring the exotic coarseness of it. The determination of good versus nappy hair played a vital part in black women in America’s lives and only within the last few years have we decided to take back power and say “To hell with that” and embrace our curls and kinks.
So in this determination about Nahla, I applaud the judge that made the decision and hope that Halle takes a good look at some of the decisions she has made and work to ensure that her daughter grows to have a healthy sense of self.