Two Alt-History Dramas Raise New Questions about the Legacy of Slavery

What would happen if slavery had never been abolished in the South? That’s the dangerous premise of HBO’s Confederate, from white Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The drama explores an alternate timeline of seceded southern states where slavery is legal and has evolved into a modern institution. The show, slated to air in late 2018, has already sparked social media backlash and a #NoConfederate campaign is trending during Game of Thrones broadcasts.

However, in light of the recent violent clash between rallying white supremacists and anti-white supremacist protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia sparked by the city’s plan to remove of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, HBO needs to cancel Confederate before it even airs.

Meanwhile, another alt-history drama series, Black America, has been in the works at Amazon for over a year and also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach.

Produced by Will Packer (Girls Trip, Ride Along, Think Like A Man franchises, Straight Outta Compton) and Peabody-winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder, Black America envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. As part of the storyline, the sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States.

Deadline reports that it was HBO’s announcement of Confederate this month that prompted the Black America team to reveal the project’s premise.

“It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer told Deadline.

Black America, which Packer said is in “very, very active development” with McGruder “off and writing,” originated at Amazon Studios. The service’s head of content Roy Price called Packer more than a year ago while the producer was on the set of his latest box office hit Girls Trip.

“While it may have sounded crazy at first, Packer said, “I was immediately enthralled by the idea; I couldn’t stop thinking about it and what a provocative and bold piece of content it could be.” Price soon reached out to McGruder with whom Packer had briefly worked with on Think Like A Man.

“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” Packer said. “You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given. As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.”

Although he declined to comment directly on the Confederate project, Packer said he wouldn’t feel comfortable making a show that ponders an America where slavery wasn’t condemned and abolished.

“The fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming,” Packer told Deadline. “Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.”

In contrast, Packer said that if Black America raises questions like “what if reparations were given, what would this country and that alternate country look like today, how would Americans look, our communities, relations, I think that there definitely is a message about how we co-exist today where that didn’t happen, there weren’t reparations, and you still have black Americans who are suffering from the effects of slavery in various ways.”

He added, “You still have the prison-industrial complex that disproportionally imprisons black and brown people, you can trace that back for many reasons to slavery.”

Ultimately, Packer said Black America “will speak to where we are now and the mistakes this country has made and things we should do going forward.” A release date has not yet been determined.

Source: Codeblack

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