What Is It Like Being a Slave?

I got one.  Driving last weekend to see the solar eclipse (you may have heard about that), I happened to catch one of my favorite radio podcasts in real time, “This American Life” on NPR.  If you’ve never listened, each hour-long program has a theme, divided into acts.  This was Program 623: “We Are The Future”, dated August 18, 2017, with the theme of Afrofuturism, which was defined as “a way of looking at black culture that’s fantastic, creative, and oddly hopeful.”

What really got my attention was Act Two, a 12-minute segment in which comedian and actor Azie Dungey remembered her time playing a slave for visiting tourists at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon.  She realistically portrayed an enslaved woman who lived at that time according to the historical record.  She told of the impact the role had on the visitors — one woman kept insisting George Washington had no slaves; another mumbled “sorry” as she gave Dungey $20.  Perhaps more importantly, the role had a profound emotional impact on her.

This program seems particularly apropos considering the current debates about slavery in general and Confederate monuments in particular.  So if you want a different perspective slavery, go to https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/623/we-are-in-the-future .  Just look for Act Two: Past Imperfect.

And speaking of Act Two, Dungey has a website, http://www.askaslave.com/ , based on her Mount Vernon experiences.

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