by Yvette Carnell
Is it OK to poke fun at era of slavery even if we’re not making fun of slaves? If a web series subtly points out some of the most horrid aspects of slavery, while simultaneously making you laugh, will you watch it?
Those are the questions posed by the web comic series “Ask a Slave”, which is described as follows:
Ask A Slave is a comedy web series directed by Jordan Black based on the actress’ time working as a living history character at the popular historic site, George Washington’s Mount Vernon. All questions and interactions are based on true events.
If the questions are based on true events, then it means that some of the people who have visited Mount Vernon are truly out of touch, lacking even the slightest degree of empathy. In that sense, the web comic is actually ridiculing obtuse white people, not slaves.
For example, in “Ask a Slave”, Lizzie Mae, the personal housemaid to President and Lady Washington, is asked, “what’s your favorite part of the plantation?” She answers, “my bed.”
And to Lizzie Mae’s credit, she does answer a question about how she found her ‘job’ on the plantation with the passive aggressive vileness you’d expect from anyone who was being forcibly kept. She also offers some insight into the life of a slave, confirming that she works from 4am to around 9:30pm.
The question though is whether all slave comics or slave shows are out of bounds? Is there a space for this sort of thing or should creatives leave it alone? I don’t have an answer, but I’d love to hear from some of the elders on this.
Watch an episode below: