Costumed characters Lisa Simpson, left, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, Maggie Simpson and Bart Simpson participate in Fox's "The…
FILE - Costumed characters Bart Simpson, left, Lisa Simpson, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson and Maggie Simpson participate in Fox's 'The Simpsons' 30th anniversary celebration at the Empire State Building on Dec. 17, 2018, in New York.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - “The Simpsons” will no longer use white actors to dub ethnic minority characters, the producers of the long-running animated series announced Friday.

The decision includes a recurring character from the series, launched in 1989 -- Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a grocer of Indian origin voiced in the American version of the show by white actor Hank Azaria.

The character has long been seen as problematic and conveying racist stereotypes. Last January Azaria announced that, in agreement with producers, he was abandoning the role.

"Moving forward, THE SIMPSONS will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters," Fox Studios said in a statement to AFP.

The change will also affect the character of Dr. Hibbert, a Black man dubbed by the white actor Harry Shearer who also lends his voice to many other characters on the series -- from Homer Simpson's boss Mr. Burns to the chirpy neighbor Ned Flanders.

The announcement came as Mike Henry, the white actor who voices the Black character of Cleveland Brown in “Family Guy,” another animated series produced by Fox, announced on Twitter that he was giving up the role.

"It's been an honor to play Cleveland on Family Guy for 20 years. I love this character, but persons of color should play characters of color. Therefore, I will be stepping down from the role," he wrote.

Americans are in the midst of a reckoning on systemic racism and discrimination ignited by the death of George Floyd, an African American man, in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.