Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ask a Slave

One of the great pleasures of researching a book can be the people you meet along the way. I met Azie Dungey a few years ago, when I was doing research at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia plantation. At the time, Azie was working as a "living history character" on the estate. Azie played a slave. She interpreted the role of Caroline, an enslaved woman who worked as a housemaid for George and Martha Washington. In this role, Azie talked to hundreds of people a day about what it was like to be black in 18th-century America.

Azie Mira Dungey
After she left Mount Vernon, Azie looked for "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 result is her hit comedy web series "Ask a Slave." 

In "Ask a Slave," Azie plays Lizzie Mae, a fictional housemaid to the Washingtons. Her deadpan delivery is hilarious, but the series addresses serious issues about race and gender and power--and historical ignorance.

If you haven't seen "Ask a Slave," check it out! I'll make it easy for you. Here's the first episode, "Meet Lizzie Mae." Teachers, you'll want to preview the series before sharing it with students. Some of the later episodes get a little raw. But I'm betting most high-schoolers will dig this edgy satire, and it might just nudge them to think a little deeper about our country's history. Way to go, Azie!


Susan E. Goodman said...

What a great idea. Can we recommend this to teachers?

Marfe Ferguson Delano said...

I would absolutely recommend it to high school and middle school teachers. But I would encourage them to preview it before sharing with students.