On the night of Feb. 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel would become the first African American ever to win an Oscar for her role as an enslaved maid in the blockbuster movie “Gone With the Wind.”

“Gone With the Wind” poster, with Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel, 1939. (LPMC via Getty Images)

At the Academy Awards banquet ceremony inside the Ambassador Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles, she was forced to sit alone, far away from the same table as the film’s White cast members.

While a few white actors wearing t-shirts is nice in 2022, where have the allies, advocates, and activists been this whole time? Who stood up for Hattie McDaniel?

Black actors have long been relegated to demeaning and stereotypical roles and in large part white chuckles was only followed by white silence.

By Hollywood historically pigeon-holing Black folks to a certain types of roles, they’ve curated expectations for many fanbases. As a result, now when a Black person appears in a non-traditional role, those racist audiences can’t fathom how or why a Black person could even portray a character that is usually already based in fantasy.

Over many years, casting directors, producers, and decision-makers have routinely stuck to the same predictable formula when featuring Black actors on a movie or TV show. They have normalized Blacks in secondary roles of servitude or being the “Black friend” on a fully white cast simply in order to check off the DEI box.

Without operating with intention to widen the scope and normalize Blacks on screen, we continue to see the racist results of the historic role Hollywood itself has played in stifling Black progress and allowing white resentment, jealousy, and insecurity to run amuck at our expense.