Hattie McDaniel's legacy goes beyond her roles, she chipped away at racism in Hollywood by simply existing and making room for herself.If Ms. Hattie McDaniel was still with us, she would have been 122 years old, and she would probably be flawless. Today is her birthday and she needs to be celebrated. For those of you who don't know who Hattie McDaniel is, she is the first woman of color to be nominated and win an Academy Award in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind. The Mammy trope is one that is ubiquitous with racist America, it is present in pop culture as well as marketing. Hell, she is the original Aunt Jemima before they gave her a jerry curl afro and dentures. [caption id="attachment_46279" align="alignnone" width="400"] Gone with the Wind (1939)
Directed by Victor Fleming
Shown from left: Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel[/caption] The Mammy trope is represented as a thick, dark skinned Black woman who spends her time doting on a white family. She is a magnificent cook, a great listener, subservient in her spirit and she can probably sing a mean spiritual. The Mammy trope is non-sexual – as opposed to the Black Jezebel trope – but she has kids of her own. She doesn’t have the time to give them the attention they deserve because she is forced to take care of the white family she is bound to. If it were up to just Hollywood, the Mammy trope would be Hattie's legacy. Fuck that. Hattie was a boss.
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When Gabourey Sidibe announced that she had bariatric surgery, a lot of her former supporters threw up their arms and called her a traitor. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” This old saying comes to mind as I watch armchair critics weigh