African-Americans in Hollywood

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African-Americans in Hollywood

The critical successes of films such as Black Panther and Moonlight as well as series such as Atlantahave illustrated the level to which African Americans have become an essential aspect of Hollywood. They are a representation of an opposing stance towards stereotypes and labels that were often attached to Black people, especially prior to the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s onwards. Despite the postmodern achievements that today’s Black actors have managed to attain as an outcome of recognition and hard work, African Americans have been forced to endure hardships and struggles in an effort to gain proper representation in the Hollywood film industry.

African American people have possessed a lengthy and complicated history as far as the Hollywood film industry is concerned. Accordingly, initial portrayals of black people were often limited to demeaning stereotypical representations and ideas of persons of color. During the formative years of the 1900s, many motion pictures portrayed a regretful and romanticized version of life within the Antebellum South. Recollections of the American Civil War were still present and these movies acted as a way of developing some form of reconciliation between the warring sides, specifically the North and the South by exalting the latter. Hence, in order to maintain the typecasts, African American actors were often depicted as infantile, inept, oversexualized, and criminal individuals.

Consequently, the roles that were meant for Black people mostly comprised mammies, loyal servants, and butlers. These were used in an effort to reinforce the idea that Blacks were meant to dwell in servitude to their white counterparts hence enforcing the social order present at the time. Nonetheless, African Americans became more renowned between 1910 and 1930 due to efforts focused on the development of all-colored casts that allowed optimistic and varied roles for Black actors. Adding on to this, the movement of massive African American populaces from the South to the urbanized areas across the United States within the same period altered the racial setting and Hollywood started to depict this change in demographics within its films.

The increasing drive of the Civil Rights Movement initiated more developments in Hollywood due to the creation of large-scale productions that featured all-African American casts hence initiating a shift that reflected the sharing of screen time between Black and white actors. Additionally, numerous films in the 1960s focused on diminishing the racial norm, increasing cast integration, and encouraged nuances regarding race in America. The 1970s saw the expansion of opportunities for Black actors, writers, directors, and producers. Most of the films were largely drama, comedy, horror, romance, and action-based and largely depicted novel and versatile images of the African American community. Such attitudes eventually became popular in the 20th century despite the consistent stereotypical depiction of the Black community.

In conclusion, the inclusion of African Americans in Hollywood has been a considerable struggle. Since the early 19th century, Hollywood films largely depicted African Americans in a stereotypical manner in an effort to emphasize the racial norm whereby Blacks were viewed as chattel rather than actual people. However, the migration to urbanized locations across the United States provided African American actors with the opportunity to participate in Hollywood films under different roles. Furthermore, the development of Black production and the impact of the Civil Rights Movement encouraged all-colored casts and multifaceted portrayals that consistently dismantled labels regarding African Americans and established them as an essential part of the Hollywood film sector in the current era. 

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