Russell Simmons take note. If you’re looking for a way to blend humor and the institution of slavery together, without offending revered historical figures in the process, take a page from actress and comedienne Azie Mira Dungey’s book. Right around the time President Obama was serving his first term and seeking reelection, Dungey was starting her acting career in the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area. Naturally, the region is steeped in history and Dungey found herself playing several black women of historical importance, including Harriet Tubman, Diane Nash, and Claudette Colvin, the woman who preceded Rosa Parks in getting arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. But perhaps most memorably for Dungey, she played Caroline Branham, Martha Washington’s enslaved maid at the plantation home of George Washington, Mount Vernon.
Dungey reflects back on that time period.
I ask you to remember the racial tension that was all around. We had people saying that the President would be planting watermelons on the White House lawn. Emails were forwarded proclaiming that this was the beginning of a race war and the end of the country as we know it. People bought guns. (A lot of guns.) A scientist reported the evolutionary explanation as to why black women were the least attractive of all the races. The Oprah Show ended. It was mass chaos.
And in the midst of all this, I was playing a slave. Everyday, I was literally playing a slave. I mean, I was getting paid well for it, don’t get me wrong, and we all need a day job. But all the same, I was having all these experiences, and emotions. Talking to 100s of people a day about what it was like to be black in 18th Century America. And then returning to the 21st Century and reflecting on what had and had not changed.
With that in mind, Dungey created a new series, “Ask A Slave” in which she took the ignorant questions she actually received during this time and turned it into what I consider to be a pretty funny series. You’ll shake your head at the ignorance, laugh at the absurdity and think about the ways in which the more things change, the more they stay the same. Right now, there are two episodes. The first one which introduces Lizzie Mae and the second one which I found much funnier and have posted below. Watch it and tell us what you think about this one.
Did you find this video funny? To get more information about Azie Mira Dungey and the series, head over here.