From Mel Gibson to Halle Berry: What's with the race-war custody battles?

As evidenced by the hideously protracted custody battles that seemingly arise every time two celebrities break off their romantic engagement in favor of stroking their turgid, throbbing sense of their own importance, large egos and small children do not mix well. Well, at least not if you care about the kids. If you don't, though, then you're in luck, because kids make excellent pawns in tawdry cat-and-mouse games of who can exploit them for the most public sympathy while imploding spectacularly, like the time Charlie Sheen beat up seventeen hookers while urging people to boycott a reality show Denise Richards put his kids in. Still, when Halle Berry invokes a Jim Crow-era eugenic theory in her custody case, that's pretty perverse.

In a way, it's even more perverse than it's equally bizarre precedent, Mel Gibson's racist rants at ex-girlfriend and babymomma Oksana Grigorieva (also the police, but that was more against Jews and less against black people), whom he infamously referred to as a "fucking pig in heat" and foretold of her rape by a "pack" of African Americans, except he used a much more controversial word to describe them. In another no-doubt pleasant conversation with Grigorieva, he called one of his staffers a "wetback."

There are some interesting parallels between Gibson's case and Berry's, except in her case, her former beau Gabriel Aubry is cast in the role (according to her, though there aren't any mind-blowingly fucked-up recordings to back it up) of old "Malice Mel." Namely, he's alleged to be a racist. That allegation comes from second-hand sources in a People story that came out last week about the acrimony brewing -- and it's perhaps even more compelling, at least as it pertains to custody, than Mel Gibson's racism, since Halle Berry is of course black and Aubry is white. Actually, he's Canadian, but that's probably close enough.

And so there's a certain depraved logic to asking the question, is daughter Nahlia, in fact, black? Because if she is, then how could Aubry be a decent father if he's racist against his own daughter? Just to recap: The big question in this custody battle is now whether or not the child is black.

But wait, it gets weirder: According to Halle Berry, she is. Why? "I'm black and I'm her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory," she told none other than Ebony.

What is the one-drop theory, you may ask? Well sir, it happens to be a "scientific" justification for racism developed post-Civil War by eugenicists like Madison Grant, author of the influential racist text The Passing of the Great Race," who perhaps put it best: "The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew." Just so you're not confused, that's an argument for the ethnic purity of the white race -- or "the great race," as Grant would put it. That text later went on to become a lynchpin (pun emphatically not intended) of Jim Crow-era segregation, allowing the white establishment to drastically widen its scope of its oppression. In other words, nice phrasing, Halle!

Aubry, on the other hand, will no doubt argue she's actually a quadroon.

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