Ziwe Fumudoh Asks: ‘How Many Black People Do You Know?’

“It’s kind of a racial high-wire act having that kind of conversation,” Mr. Wilmore said. “She seems generous in her approach too, which is nice, but yet there’s something else going on there. There’s a twinkle behind her eye that makes you go, ‘What is she doing here exactly?’”

Her interviews are more of a wink to people who expect Ms. Calloway and Ms. Roman to respond to the questions as they did, according to Mr. Wilmore. In 2016, when he hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he was criticized for calling President Obama a racist slur; that was a risky wink.

“I took a lot of blowback from that,” Mr. Wilmore said. “But the people who understood it, there was a lot of praise and support for it.”

Ms. Fumudoh’s wink is aimed more at Black women who feel awkward and uncomfortable all the time simply because they are navigating the world. She makes the discomfort visible and shareable by all.

“This is my way of seizing my authority and my autonomy,” she said, “and pushing that back onto society and saying, ‘Hey, I’m not going to be the only one who’s going through this life feeling discomfort.’”

The guests on the show do get uncomfortable, like when Ms. Fumudoh asks them how many Black friends they have, or when they fumble if they know who Marcus Garvey or Huey Newton are. Ms. Fumudoh, though, was quick on her feet when asked to name five white people in 10 seconds.

“Three of the Haim sisters, John F. Kennedy, shout out to him, and the fantastic actress Anne Hathaway,” she answered immediately. It’s not about naming five Black friends, or five Black authors you’ve read. Ms. Fumudoh simply does not want to be the lone carrier of the tension that she faces as a Black woman.

“I’m just trying to heal,” Ms. Fumudoh said. “I’m just trying to make people laugh and make people feel good.”

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