Upcoming TV Show Black America Will Explore an Alt-History In Which Freed Slaves Get Reparations

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Black America is the new drama from The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder and producer Will Packer for Amazon, a scripted series that explores an alternate historical world we still haven’t seen on TV.

The project was announced in February, though it’s been in development for over a year. Details were shared Tuesday with Deadline, partially in response to the controversy about Confederate, the new HBO series from Game of Throne showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, which imagines an alternate-history U.S. in which “slavery never ended.”

Black America’s alternate history is Confederate’s exact opposite. In its post-Civil War landscape, newly freed slaves are given reparations in the form of land, transforming Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama into a sovereign nation called New Colonia:

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.

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While Packer declined to comment directly on Confederate, saying he didn’t want to pre-judge a show that hasn’t even been written, the decision to share more about Black America was definitely prompted by the current discussion around who gets to tell what kind of stories on television:

“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.”

Packer did say that on a personal level, he can’t imagine tuning into a show about slavery as a modern institution in a fictionalized universe.

“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.”

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Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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DISCUSSION

shortpaleandadequate
ShortPale&Adequate

I grew up in a minority-free small town in Alabama (seriously. Wiki says “100% Caucasian”). In my entire life, having lived all over the South, I’ve heard easily 10x more arguments against reparations from white people, than I’ve heard any argument for reparations, from anyone.

Any white man who has an opinion on this has absolutely no sense of their own privilege. It was frustrating and disgusting but it started me on my own young path to liberalism.

As for me, a white girl who grew up very poor, reparations always made perfect sense to me. I never understood why that shit didn’t happen immediately post-Civil War (my cynical adult self understands it now, unfortunately). It takes an extreme amount of privledge to deny you have any. I grew up steeped in that culture, and I think reparations probably won’t ever happen because white people, mostly men, have a vested interest in making damn sure it doesn’t, for the sake of their own skewed sense of “fairness”.