Following the highly critical response to HBO’s upcoming series “Confederate,” a new project from Amazon, “Black America,” was announced this week.
“Black America” will center around a time where three Southern states Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have seceded from the Union. However, they have formed their own nation for freed Black Americans as reparations for slavery.
According to Deadline:
“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.”
Deadline first reported the project back in February, at which time the creative minds behind the project did not reveal any details about the storyline. However, the team told Deadline in an interview released Tuesday that the controversy surrounding “Confederate” prompted them to share their project’s details.
The “Black America” team includes Will Packer, the producer behind “Think Like a Man,” “Obsessed,” “Ride Along” and “About Last Night,” as well as Aaron McGruder, who created “The Boondocks” and co-created “Black Jesus.”
“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 said in an interview with Deadline.
In July David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the team behind HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones,” announced their current project in the works, “Confederate.” The show creates an alternate America in which the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union and formed a nation where slavery is a legal, modern institution.
According to Packer, “Black America” is now in “very, very active development”; however, he did not give a tentative air date or describe what the show’s overarching message will be.
But, as a Black American, Packer called the concept “personally intriguing.”
“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 explained to Deadline. “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.”
The alternate racial history drama will test America’s audience, for good or bad.
Packer did not comment directly on “Confederate” but told Deadline that its premise “makes it something that I would not be a part of producing or 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,” he said.
For “Confederate,” the men behind “Thrones” are teaming up with producers Nichelle Tramble Spellman (“Justified”) and Malcolm Spellman (“Empire”). But the concept was met with immediate backlash on social media.
The team and HBO have both asked critics to reserve judgment until they see how the show plays out.
“We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate,” HBO said in a statement over the weekend. “We have faith that Nichelle, Dan, David, and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.”
But on Sunday, during the airing of the new episode of “Thrones,” April Reign called on Twitter users to tweet #NoConfederate to send a message to HBO. #NoConfederate was the No. 1 trending topic in the United States and No. 2 worldwide, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Jent Morrow (@JenetAllDay) August 1, 2017
Weiss and Benioff, who can only see Black/PoC as slaves on a show with magic and dragons, want to tackle racism. Mmk. #NoConfederate
ReBecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) August 1, 2017
HBO: Let’s take a “risk” on the same people we’ve hired for the last decade
Amazon: Give that Girls Trip Producer more $$#NoConfederate
Shanelle Little (@ShanelleLittle) August 1, 2017
One of the reasons so many people are against #NoConfederate is that, honestly, it’s not alt-history. The confederacy never truly lost.
X (@XLNB) August 1, 2017
Not to be rude, but why do we have to imagine what modern day slavery would be like when the prison system exists #NoConfederate
Pieprzy Mnie (@cassiecabage) July 31, 2017
“What confidence should we have in two gentlemen who can’t talk about race on their own show and have had seven seasons to introduce significant characters of color” Reign told the publication.
Reign was also behind the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in 2015.