Thursday, March 28, 2002

HALLE BERRY, AFRICAN AMERICAN: The Captain asks the rhetorical question we were all asking ourselves when we weren't cringing internally during the Berry Oscar meltdown, and makes a point:

This is a picture of Miss Berry with her mother, Judith. If Miss Berry is "black" because her father is black, why isn't she "white" because her mother is white? (I know the answer, of course.)

Tiger Woods keeps running into this one. When African-American activists try to claim him as a sterling example of African-American achievement, he protests that he's also a Thai-American. (And when he competes in Thailand, the locals always rally to his support as a home-town boy, because they think of him as Thai. Which, indeed, he is.)

I guess the difference between Berry and Woods is Berry has consciously decided to call herself black while Woods has consciously decided to call himself cablinasian --a word he made up to encompass his white/black/Thai/Chinese/Native American roots. I mean, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and (at least at one time) the Nike marketing department insisted he was black, even though Woods never did. A lot of people got on his case for having the nerve to choose his own race. In this stage of the game, though, you can choose your own race if that race happens to be in your genetic makeup. I, as a Dutch-Irish-Italian-German person, would be a total poser if I decided to call myself black, but if I want to break the ice with that dark-eyed olive-skinned girl at the party by making reference to my Italian heritage (my great-grandfather,) hey, more power to me. Not that that's going to work --it won't, I'ma guessing-- but at least it's legit. Social reality probably trumps genetic reality a majority of the time in determining what race you are, people's perceptions of you counting for so much and all, but genetic reality has the advantage of being objectively verifiable. Like when Tiger says he's a quarter black, a quarter Thai, a quarter Chinese, an eighth Indian, an eighth white --those are numbers and they're true.

The Monstah, by the way, puts the Berry win in historical perspective and provides the reading list for those who doubt it was history-making. Angela Bassett still woulda made a far better Storm, though. And I am still a nerd.

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