Link of the week: Ask a Slave

One of my professors pointed this out to us on Monday, when we had a class on living history museums. One of the defining characteristics of the living history museum is the costumed actors and actresses that can be found on the premises, to give guided tours and answer visitor questions. Unfortunately you can never assume the amount of prior knowledge your visitors will have…

Ask a Slave” is based on real questions that actress Azie Mira Dungey received while playing a slave character on an American historic site. The website hasn’t been up for long, but it’s generated a lot of discussion. The videos can be quite funny, but as Azie notices, it’s a shame to see that some attitudes of the 18th century have yet to change in the 21st. It makes me wonder how we can better educate people about slavery and other controversial issues which have had such a lasting impact. Perhaps “Ask a Slave” is one way to start the conversation.

Certainly not everyone will find this series appropriate. Do you think this turns a tragedy into a caricature? (If so, is this true of living history museums as well?) Or do you think comedy and history can intersect to provoke thought about how injustices of the past are ignored or perpetuated in the present?

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