By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the new series Ask a Slave that’s taking the internet by storm. Debuting on the heels of the Russell Simmon’s produced Harriet Tubman sex tape debacle it could not have premiered at a more opportune time. The web series was inspired by the real life interactions and questions its creator, Azie Mira Dungey, experienced while playing a slave at the Mount Vernon museum. On the series website Azie states that she created the series as “…a way to present all of the most interesting, and somewhat infuriating encounters that I had, the feelings that they brought up, and the questions that they left unanswered.”
The recent misrepresentation of the Black Panther Party and its contributions to American history and the struggle for black liberation plus the inaccuracies that ran all up and through Django indicate the need for a better approach and model for telling Black history/AMERICAN history. Both provide teachable moments and indicate the need for critical commentary on how and why only certain narratives about slavery in America and Jim Crow exist and persist. So, considering the fallacies presented by Hollywood and the difficulty finding a truthful and honest handling of the history of race in America in mainstream outlets, the historical ignorance Azie encountered on her job comes as no surprise.
Ask a Slave is a unique way to highlight misconceptions about slavery that pervade the American consciousness. A number of people have stated that slavery is a dark moment in this country’s history that Americans should be working to move past and leave behind. But obviously, if people do not have an accurate idea of what happened we can not work past it and heal as a nation. Ignorance is not bliss people.
An accurate depiction of slavery is important for understanding and grasping the social, economic, historical, and political forces that shape race relations in this country along with the Black experience.The lack of information about slavery prevents people from perceiving things like the educational debt that contributes to the oft discussed black-white achievement gap and wealth disparities not to mention other racial inequalities. Evidence of the failure of American history lessons (but you can’t blame all of this on the education system) is people asking Lizzie questions like:
“”Why don’t you just go to Massachusetts and go to school?”
“How did you get to be a maid for such a distinguished founding father? Did you read the advertisement in the newspaper?”
-Her reply to this with EPIC.
“Why are you a slave? Is it an internship?”
“Are you eligible for a promotion?”
Watch the video below for more of the ignorant dumb as questions proposed to Lizzie and the honest and clever responses she uses to take down ignorance and bullshit. Make sure you let us know what you think of the series in the comments.