Black America, an upcoming alt-history drama from Girls Trip producer Will Packer and The Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, has been in the works at Amazon for more than a year. Plot details had been kept under wraps, but in light of the intense backlash that sparked from another alt-history drama, HBO’s Confederate, Packer felt he needed to clarify the project in a new interview with Deadline.
Black America features an alternate post-Reconstruction history of the United States in which newly freed slaves claimed Southern lands as reparations for slavery. Out of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, they formed a new nation called New Colonia, which over the years developed a tumultuous relationship with its “Big Neighbor,” the U.S., one filled with assassination attempts, coups, incursions, and the like. Modern-day New Colonia, however, is a thriving industrialized country, while America is rapidly in decline.
Speaking with Deadline, Packer explained the series will imagine what present-day America would look like if reparations had been made to slaves after the Civil War. “I think that there definitely is a message about how we coexist 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 said. “You still have the prison-industrial complex that disproportionally imprisons black and brown people, you can trace that back for many reasons to slavery.”
Amazon announced the series in February of this year with Packer, McGruder, and Norman Aladjem executive-producing. “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 light of Confederate‘s controversy.
Since HBO announced Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would next work on Confederate — about an America in which slavery still exists — the network has faced an overwhelming wave of pushback. Users online called the concept a fantasy for white supremacists, while an organized #NoConfederate protest on social media erupted during last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones.
HBO, Benioff, and Weiss addressed the response over the last two weeks, and they stand by the project. “We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around Confederate,” the network said in a recent statement. “We have faith that [writer-producer] Nichelle [Tramble Spellman], Dan, David, and [writer-producer] Malcolm [Spellman] 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.”
Packer declined to comment on Confederate out of respect for its creators, but he said, “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.”
Read more about Black America in Packer’s interview with Deadline.