By now, you’ve probably heard that HBO’s proposed series “Confederate” has generated a great deal of controversy. No one has seen an episode, but there’s little doubt in many minds that while slavery will be a part of the show, it won’t be shown in a positive light. Yet that’s not enough to stop some people from squawking about how horrible it is to show such a thing.
Amazon, however, is being a bit more proactive. It seems they’re intending to combat the show with a program of their own.
As in Confederate, from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Black America takes place in a universe where the South has seceded from the Union. But where Confederate imagines slavery as a modern-day institution, the Amazon offering focuses on freed slaves who form their own country, New Colonia, out of the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, given to them as reparations for the country’s original sin.
New Colonia has been at peace with the United States for twenty years following 150 years of fighting. But their newfound accord is endangered by an economic role reversal: the new country has emerged as a new global power player as America slides into decline.
Now, keep in mind that the lands given to these freed slaves happen to be among the poorest states in the nation right now. Yet somehow these states are going to be a superpower that puts the United States to shame? Really?
Yeah, that doesn’t sound like propaganda at all. After all, the black nation sounds almost paradise-like while the U.S. that fought and died to free those slaves and then gave them the land to create a new nation promptly turned on them and fought for a century and a half, leading the country into a rapid decline. Nope. No bias in that premise at all.
The creators had some interesting thoughts on the project.
“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” William Packer (Straight Outta Compton), who is partnering with Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, told Deadline in a story published Tuesday. “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.”
He added that the Black America team is working with a team of historians, explaining, “Even though the story is set in contemporary society, not post-slavery, it relies on us being factually correct in telling the story of how we got to a contemporary society where you’ve got a sovereign country that is run by black Americans.”
If only we had some example of what would have happened if freed blacks created their own nation.
Oh, wait, we do. You see, the African nation of Liberia was unique in that it was established as a colony for freed slaves in 1847. These were black Americans who settled there.
Of course, there are substantial differences between this fictional nation and Liberia, such as the fact that no one would create a show in the U.S. about a black-founded nation in an alternate history and use Liberia as a model without expecting to be murdered at some point. After all, Liberia is not a global power by even the most generous stretch one could imagine.
That’s not to say that a state created by black Americans at some point in time during our past couldn’t be a power. There’s no reason to assume black Americans are less capable than anyone else of creating a powerful nation, after all.
Where the problem comes is that this is yet another example of divisive ideology driving programming. “Confederates” is most likely going to talk about how horrible Southerners are, and I somehow suspect “Black America” will too.
Granted, both could be good, so we’ll have to see. In the meantime, I’ll play the odds and figure both shows are going to tell me just how much I suck as a human being.