‘Confederate’ haters rejoice: there’s another alt-history show, ‘Black America’

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Am I hallucinating or was 30 Rock the show to do the “Blackmerican” joke? Like, I keep hearing that in Tracy Morgan’s voice, “Blackmerican.” Anyway, if you’re still mad about HBO’s planned new series, Confederate, I have some good news. Maybe. As it turns out, a group of black producers and writers are working on a series for Amazon called Black America (shoulda been Blackmerica). The idea behind it is sort of the anti-Confederate, wherein freed slaves got their reparations in the form of three states, and they formed their own country. Here are the basics, from Deadline:

Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled Black America, the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (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. 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. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.

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.

As for the tone of the hourlong series, it’s “a drama, but it wouldn’t be Aaron McGruder without traces of his trademark sardonic wit,” Will Packer said. Black America creates the kind of utopia that has been on the minds of generations of black Americans for whom the series may have a sense of wish-fulfillment.

“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.”

That involves “bringing on the appropriate historians to make sure we are telling the story in an accurate and responsible way,” Packer said, noting that historians have been brought in as consultants on the project, working with the producers. Why is working with scholars on a fictional series set in present time so important? “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,” Packer said.

[From Deadline]

The Deadline article features a longer interview with Will Packer, and it sounds like they’ve been working on this for a while, before Confederate was a white supremacist gleam in HBO’s eye. I find the concept genuinely fascinating, but I do wonder if this would make a more interesting book? But if Amazon is paying, then why not do it as an hour-long series? It just feels like there’s so much backstory to get through, because that’s what interesting – I want to hear about what happened in Black America in the 20th century too.

Packer also spoke about Confederate, which is still facing widespread backlash and boycott threats. He declined to say something about the series in general, as it hasn’t even been made, but he did say that on a personal level, “the fact that there is the contemplation of contemporary slavery makes it something that I would not be a part of producing nor consuming. 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.”

This is Aaron McGruder:

Aaron McGruder

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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34 Responses to “‘Confederate’ haters rejoice: there’s another alt-history show, ‘Black America’”

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  1. poorlittlerichgirl says:

    This is great news!

  2. Giulia says:

    Yes! Hope it will bring something new to viewers.
    As much as I’ve enjoyed GoT over the years, the show reinforces every stereotype imaginable, it’s stereotype bound, so it’s never exactly been fresh. Not that much of a surprise the producers are attracted to Confederate then.

  3. adastraperaspera says:

    Any show that gets the topic of reparations back into circulation is good with me. As recently as 2016, a U.N. working group studying people of African decent in the U.S. concluded that both official apologies for slavery, plus financial payback such as investment and loan forgiveness should be offered people to address abuse by white supremacists in the past. It also found that current abuses should be addressed by using the rule of law to eradicate systemic white supremacy.

  4. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    Hmmm, this may not be too bad. I haven’t watched The Boondocks consistently but from what I remember I liked his satirical take on race relations and blackness. The show had a diverse writing and directing staff as well, so this may get my viewing time since I have Amazon Prime.

    I have issues with Will Packer’s films- epsecially The Think Like a Man series. The franchise is pure trash to me but it is successful. Slightly better than Tyler Perry’s nonsense but not by much. I just hope black women have a strong presence in this new series and not just side pieces for thoughtful black men and hoteps.

  5. HelloSunshine says:

    I’m excited for this!! I don’t need a show about modern day slavery and white supremacy when I’m constantly looking over my shoulder because idk who around me hates me because of my skin color. This is a concept I’ve never seen and I’m very excited. Can’t wait for the “how is this any different than what HBO is doing?? REVERSE RACISM” bs that I’m sure is on its way.

  6. grabbyhands says:

    Aaron McGruder is so adorable. I loved the Boondocks, so I will take a look at this.

    Countdown to people screaming “Reverse racism!!” and talking about white genocide and how this is an attack on white people.

  7. Lulu says:

    I loved the boondocks so I’m super happy about Aaron mcgrudder on the show. I think this sounds like a great concept and far more innovative than confederate. I don’t know how I’d watch it but if there’s a will there’s a way.

  8. Big_Lou says:

    Now for the highly anticipated series in which the United States is divided. Half conservative and half progressive. Where would everyone want to live?

  9. Nicole says:

    This is how you do an alt-history series. I have Prime already so I’m excited to see this come to life

  10. mogul says:

    Good, they better not mess it up.

  11. Moon Beam says:

    This is a much better alt-history concept. Confederate doesn’t even make any sense set in modern day. Chattel slavery as it was during the Civil War would not be feasible today, other less overt forms, sure but not outright slavery. Plus seeing modern depictions of that type of slavery is offensive and insulting to those whose ancestors were slaves. I don’t know, it’s liken to moden day concentration camps to me. That’s why the idea of Confederate is so upsetting. Maaayyybbbeeee it would have worked as a book and if it was set in the early 20th century, but it’s still such a no go for so many people that I hope it gets scrapped. I hope people listen and say “hey we don’t want this, there are so many more interesting stories to tell about black Americans.” To me letting the creators know that before the idea comes to fruition as an actual show isn’t censorship. Like if the artist Dana Schutz had said to a group “Hey I’m going to paint Emmett Till in his casket.” And they had said “Oh no baby, what is you doing??” and explained to her the offensiveness of a white artist using black bodies and black pain in her work without really understanding the nuances of either, I wouldn’t consider that offensive. But now that her painting is hanging in a gallery, censorship arguments come into play. So that’s why I’m glad people are speaking up about Confederate now.

    This is a much more interesting idea. And of course I’m hearing Alt- right types are triggered by this announcement. Of course, ugh.

  12. jess1632 says:

    This will probably go over white ppls head based on the title alone like how Dear White People had a lot of white ppl up in arms about it. I’m here and happy for it. Bring on the blackness

    • Manjit says:

      Yes, coz we’re all such ignorant bigots, aren’t we?

      • Lynnie says:

        Not only did you miss the point of her comment, but you also unwittingly proved it as well lmao.

      • Sandy says:

        I understood it, but I don’t put myself with in any broadly defined box so I don’t really care. Excited about this show, it already seems like a well developed and thought out idea.

      • jess1632 says:

        I never implied ALL white ppl I just said a lot would and could be offended based on the name alone. Obviously not everyone is a bigoted racist and should this sound interesting to you as person who isn’t a woc all the power to you to see outside yourself

    • jugil1 says:

      @jess1632, I’m not a WOC but I think this show sounds interesting. I have Amazon Prime & will look forward to watching it.

  13. commonsense says:

    This sounds very interesting, plus I loved the boondocks; I will be watching.

  14. HK9 says:

    This is an interesting concept and something that’s worth watching. I wish them the best of luck with the project. (P.S. The Boondocks outro has been my ringtone for years 🙂 )

  15. Merritt says:

    This could be interesting.

  16. scale says:

    Now THIS is an “alt-history” show! *sideyes Confederate* Looks super interesting. Will be watching, I hope the show gets big numbers that send a message to future show creators that people are getting tired of watching lots of black people suffering on screen

  17. Wren33 says:

    A much more interesting take. Also, Mcgruder has a baby face, although I didn’t realize he was successful with The Boondocks so young.

  18. Alexandria says:

    Super interesting! Looking forward to this

  19. detritus says:

    I love how the two white dudes picked the most obvious example of a counter narrative, let the black people still be slaves. so outrageous and thought provoking /s.
    No stretching there for creative ideas there.

    Then two black dudes were like, hey so we’ve already thought of a way more nuanced project and its been in the works for years. plus we don’t want to judge, but your white dude show sounds kind of insensitive.

    what now friends, Benioff and Weiss? what now?
    If you continue with Confederate you look even worse, because you look like you are competing AGAINST this show. The typical non-apology won’t work. They can’t argue they are woke when theres a show with a better concept in production by black authors. I look forwards to their response.

    • Sixer says:

      I won’t bother commenting now, since you said what I was going to say!

      So clear there was a black liberation (particularly with liberation still under fire) take on this idea. That Benioff and Weiss were oblivious speaks volumes.

    • detritus says:

      ‘Black America’ is such a delicious counterpoint to what they were thinking on doing with their show, its almost funny. Especially since I don’t think they had any idea this was in the works at all.
      What do you think their spin will be, and is this the nail in the coffin for their show, or will they soldier bravely on?

    • Sixer says:

      I think they will soldier on. Entitlement takes folks a long way, dontchaknow.

      I’m generally not in favour of an outrage chorus getting something shut down – shut down would be good in this case, yes, but it’s a very, very slippery slope – but it seems to me fairly obvious that these two will fall into about every pitfall going if they plough on. It would be better for them to gracefully abandon. I suspect, though, plough on they will!

      (I think it’s funny, too! Always best to make someone look foolish than to shout them down.)

  20. Dee Kay says:

    I’ve been hugely in the camp of #NoConfederate but now that Black America is on the way for sure, I say, bring on that stupid HBO Confederate show. I want them to pour tens of millions into that disaster and then launch it, thinking the GoT creators must be geniuses and will continue to gild the HBO brand no matter what they make, and then see it take arrows from all sides for its dumbassedness, and then see Black America triumph with critics and viewers. In fact, I’d much rather see Confederate be a huge failure than have HBO cry “Waahh, mean identity politics police wouldn’t let us make our show!!!” Let it happen, and let it be everyone’s favorite example of What Not to Do for a while, especially in contrast to a much more interesting series.

  21. BB Carrots says:

    I’m interested to see how both pan out.

    I loved the animated version of The Boondocks. It was such a unique combination of very nuanced commentary and obvious, gut busting humour. It mocked the ridiculous parts of both black and wealthy white culture equally and is a show that truly could only have been made by African Americans. The episode where Riley takes up graffiti also makes me cry uncontrollably. I’m curious to see how that style will blend with a live action drama. I can’t wait for casting and hope to see Forest Whittaker, Ernie Hudson, Angela Basset or even Rae Chong take a part. Basset does tv now.

    Confederate could be the incredibly offensive backwards POS people are afraid of and offended by it being. But, similar to Handmaid’s Tale, it also could potentially be the same kind of commentary that would hold up a mirror to the problems in our society. It depends on how it is approached. I would be interested in seeing how the Union side of the US as well as the rest of the world interact with a modern slave state and how it could even continue to exist without being invaded and dismantled because, holy sh*t, it’s a modern slave state. But that is first world privilege speaking because slavery, not just oppression, not just racism, but outright slavery still DOES exist.

  22. her highness says:

    I am so happy to learn of this & want to write for their show! I am black & i hate of shit goes down for us man, we need an alt-ending!!!