During the dramatic swirl of last summer, as newborn activists hit the streets to protest the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and scores of other Black Americans, members of Congress (including the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi) were photographed kneeling in Ghanaian kente cloth, and Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben abruptly reached retirement age. Throughout, the twenty-nine-year-old comedian Ziwe Fumudoh, who lives in Brooklyn, interviewed defendants plucked from the court of “cancel culture” on Instagram Live. Her guests included the actress Rose McGowan, the food writer Alison Roman, and the influencer Caroline Calloway. One hardball question: “How many Black friends do you have?” It almost always made her interlocutors stutter and squirm.
Ziwe (she prefers the monomial) spent a recent rainy morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wearing a long pink raincoat, she breezed through galleries of colonial artifacts.“I loved that one of my questions for Alison was ‘Why would you put cashews in collard greens?’ ” she said, laughing at the idea of gentrifying a soul-food staple. She added, “I’ll say this, Alison was one of the guests that didn’t berate me via texts afterwards. She did the interview and left it to God.” Ziwe raised an eyebrow. “I’ve always said the behind the scenes of my interviews are more compelling than the interviews could ever be. You see the racial politics in a way that is not performative.”
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