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Halle Berry Says Her High School Was Racist. Her Classmates Lit Up Facebook to Set the Record Straight

Is it just me or does it seem like every last celebrity has a story about his or her miserable childhood? It's almost like having a sob story is a job prerequisite for these people. Actress Halle Berry is certainly no exception. For years she's been giving interviews recounting tales of the racism and bullying she experienced as a biracial student in a predominantly white school. Most recently she complained to People about her high school, where Berry claims there were only "like 3 out of 2500 students" who were black.

The X-Men actress says she was bullied “because of the color of my skin.”

“Because my mother was white and my father was black… we got called Oreos and names, and kids just didn’t understand, so we were different. We were the brunt of a lot of jokes. So, I think my need to please and my desire to achieve was because I was constantly trying to prove that I was as good as the other white students. I felt very ‘less than,’ and I thought, ‘If I can beat them at everything, then I can be as good as them.'”

Only that's not the way her classmates remember it and they took to Facebook en masse to set the record straight. It all started when someone posted the People article on a private Facebook group called "You know you grew up in Bedford," which is the city where Halle attended high school. Former students immediately jumped on her comments. (I'm not including the full names because these comments below are from a private Facebook group.)

"Oh please," retorted Beverly C.

Jean M. said, "Never!"

"When did Bedford become (or was) all white???" asked Glenn R.?

After that, the comments started flying in, with dozens of her former classmates calling bull hockey on the Bedford High School graduate's story. They were eager to vindicate their beloved alma mater in their comments. Here are a few of them (unedited):

Rachel W.: "Class of '86 here.....I didn't know Halle personally so while I certainly can't speak to her individual experience I can speak to how I looked at her and how all of my friends looked at her in high school. My female friends (black and white) and I thought she was gorgeous and wanted to look like her while my male friends (black and white) had massive crushes on her and wanted to date her. Curious also that she left out the fact she was elected Prom Queen by the entire student body, black and white."

Rob C.: "She's crazy, Bedford wasn't all white. I grew up in Bedford and Bedford heights 35 years, there are plenty of black folks then and still are."

Shannon T:  "I remember everyone always being in awww of Hallie. She was always gorgeous and everyone seemed to look up to her."

James D.: "Bullsh*t, She was in my art class at Bedford HS, I talked to her everyday, she was a cheerleader too and treated like a queen! I always had respect for her until now!"

Jeff A.: "I remembered reading an article 10 or more years ago where she stated the same things."

Cheryl M.: "She gave an interview on Lifetime about 20 years ago claiming all the same stuff"

Dawn T: "Halle is whining for attention. If she wanted to change the way things are she would be doing something, anything, for kids in her home town. She could easily afford to give a lot, but she doesn't. What has she done in the last thirty years to help Bedford cheerleaders? Any scholarships for local disadvantaged girls? Has she built a playground? A shelter? Put any Oakwood kids through college? Seriously? What has she done for the biracial kids walking the path that was so tough for her?"

Erna B.: "She is not telling truth as she was Prom Queen voted by the entire class. Bedford schools have always been mix and everyone was happy was pretty friendly."

Paul T.: "Class of 84. We were at least 40/60 and never heard anything other than how pretty she was. She was our prom queen in 84. Hollywood distorts things."

Cindy K:  "I know her very well. This is another 'Hollywood' story that makes for a good interview. She was NEVER picked on! She was popular and very outgoing... Years ago in another interview, she said she was beaten by a high school boyfriend and went deaf because of it, that never happened! On Oprah, she said she was accused of "stuffing" the ballot box because she won prom queen, that never happened! She tied with Vicki and won the coin toss! See the pattern here?"

Karen Z.: "I totally agree. She was popular. She was a cheerleader in the band as a flag girl I believe. Everyone likes her. It's all a story to get people to feel sorry for her. So sad she has to act that way."

Wendy P.: "This isn't the first time she has LIED about Bedford- 10 years ago in a Cosmo article she talked about how she experienced racism- I gaduated in '81 she graduated a couple years later w/my sister and my dad was her mailman- as previously stated she was super popular, all the guys wanted to date her, all the girls wanted to be her, I don' t know why she continues to say this- maybe for attention but I hate that it makes Bedford look bad"

Debbie M.: "Bedford was 35% minority when she attended. Being the principals daughter, I was called every name in the book. I had one student, who only knew who I was because I was "bud's daughter" call me bit*h every single day in the hallway. I had bottles and rocks thrown through my house windows. Bomb threats were called to my home. That's discrimination. But I dealt with it and I've never boo-hooed about it all over the media/Facebook. My brother was one of her best friends. He will attest that she is exaggerating. She needs to find something new to try to regain the spotlight."

On and on and on it went, with some people even including pictures:

 

Halle Berry High School Prom Queen Bedford High School Prom

 

To understand the reasons for the fury, a bit of the backstory is required. Halle graduated from Bedford High School in northeast Ohio in 1984 (two years behind me). During her tenure at BHS, she was class president, a cheerleader, editor of the school newspaper, and prom queen. We were in the band together during my senior year (she was a flag girl), so I saw her nearly every day at school. She was well-liked by students of all races and I don't recall anyone ever saying an unkind word about her. People knew she was modeling and in pageants, which gave her semi-celebrity status at the school. At the time blacks made up about 15-20 percent of the 1500-member student body (maybe more), which was higher than the general population in the U.S. at the time.

Halle Berry High School Class President Class President Halle Berry

Was there racism at the school. Yes, absolutely. My senior year a close friend who was white dated a black boy, the first time anyone could remember an interracial relationship. There were plenty of whispers and some very open derogatory remarks. So I wouldn't be surprised if a fellow student (or students) called Halle an "Oreo." Cee R. confirmed: "I grew up on the same street with her and she was called Oreo by all the black kids on my street." Natalie P. added:

I caution those who are trying to discredit Halle just because they had a great experience, or did not see/hear abuse, does not mean that it did not happen. How interesting it is to see so many white people discredit her. Ever walk in her shoes?...  I can witness that she and many other biracial, African American and foreigners endured a lot of abuse. The times I or others spoke out, would endure the same if not worse abuse too.One BHS teacher I recalled told the students to stop "speaking black" although the speech was informative, interesting and articulate. Shocking.

Kids can be stupid, and anytime you get 2,000 people in one place you'll probably find a few racists. (I confess that I personally dumped muck from the bottom of the lake at band camp on her head as part of our hazing rituals, which probably makes me a racist... except that all the "greenies" got the same treatment.) Our school also had its share of mean girls because...high school. And more than a few boys (and some girls) got into fights (and then got paddled by the principal).

Images from Bedford High School yearbook via Classmates.com

But was the school a hotbed for racism as Halle implies in interviews? Hardly. And that's why Bedford High School came out swinging after her People interview. For years they've watched Halle Berry unfairly malign the school and the community, acting as if the place was like something out of the Jim Crowe South. Her fellow students see a disconnect between the popular girl, whose peers elected her as their class president and prom queen, and the millionaire Hollywood elitist who now implies that she experienced systemic racism at school. It's hard to muster up a lot of sympathy when the most popular girl school talks about how hard her life was — when she likely endured nothing more than typical high school nastiness.

Ken S. nailed it:

Here's the thing, yes we all can agree that children grow up in less than ideal situations and some are bullied , some are discriminated against and some have less than desirable home lives. But as an adult ( such as Berry ) we are able to see how many things we did have and how easy life was. There are many children who are abused, slaughtered, turned over to the scum of the earth, with no parents, no home or school to go to and who live in fear or dying everyday. Children who have no happy memories of childhood or hopes of a happy adult life. So for Halle berry to publicly complain about her hard childhood is an insult to every educated, or abused, underprivileged person who hears her. You should be ashamed of yourself miss berry. I for one am ashamed of you.

Exactly. By every objective standard, Halle flourished while a student at Bedford High School and then went on to have successful careers in modeling and acting.  A couple of jerks who said stupid — or even racist — things can never take that away from her. Painting an entire student body with a racist brush isn't fair to her fellow classmates, most of whom adored her and treated her with kindness and respect. That's why they're lighting up Facebook in response to her interview.

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