By now you should know that HBO has greenlit a new project from the folks who bring you Game of Thrones, titled Confederate. Here’s the description from the press release:
We, like others across the country, took the longest of long sighs when we read it. It’s not enough to live in an age where Confederate flags are forcibly removed from statehouses, some believe viewers want more pain-based dystopias in our escapist fantasy too.
The world is full of alternative history theories, most of which would make 1,000% better TV viewing than this. We have a few ideas studios could run with instead of slavery-based dystopian white supremacy drama bullshit.
UNCHAINED: A world where the Trans-Atlantic slave trade never happened.
Sure, we’d miss out on a lot of things that people of African Descent have brought to the rest of the world, but we also wouldn’t be 300+ years deep into breaking our backs for other people to live their version of the American Dream.
I’d love to pitch a story where slavery never existed at all in the history of humankind, but it’s been a part of warfare and society for so long that my mind isn’t nearly equipped enough to imagine what that world would look like. So, instead, let’s focus on one of the the most inhumane acts committed against a group of people in recorded history. Without generations of displacement, economic disparities, racial tensions, and a lack of opportunities, the possibilities are endless.
In other words, I’m saying most, if not all, of Africa would look like a mix between Wakanda and Zamunda by now if Europeans hadn’t taken literally everything they could. I’m talking flying cars, giant palaces, scientific advancements, hell, maybe the end of world hunger would come of it.
This idea is also under the presumption that the United States and various African nations would be viewed as economic and political equals. Just imagine.
VIGILANCE: The Vigilance Committee completely takes down the Kidnapping Club in 19th Century NYC.
This one is only partially fiction.The New York Kidnapping Club, a group of white people (including city officials and judges) terrorized free Black New Yorkers in the 1800s. They would literally snatch men, women, and especially children off the streets and sell them into slavery down south. The Vigilance Committee, made up of free Black men and women, fought against them in the courts, in the streets, and at the port. Now picture this like The Shield, but we’re following the heroes as they clean out a corrupt government. And, of course, they win.
CHISHOLM: Shirley Chisholm wins her 1972 presidential run.
We follow President Shirley Chisholm starting on the first day of her second term. She remains Unbought and Unbothered as she runs the country with a deft hand. We lose Watergate, but we gain so much more.
UNITED: America, but 90% of the native population didn’t die of European diseases.
Instead of the colonizers being handed an easy, deplorable win thanks to smallpox blankets, indigenous people keep their land. European settlers have to assimilate into and respect native cultures. And hipsters wearing war bonnets at Coachella never exist because everyone knows it’s tacky.
REBIRTH: An America where reparations were paid to the slaves and the Reconstruction succeeded.
We get America with a truly level playing field. Instead of undermining Black wealth at every turn, newly freed people are given the resources they are due as American citizens. Black people can better participate in the American economy and build wealth just like their white counterparts. Man, might be easier just having dragons.
AFLAME: America where Nat Turner’s rebellion succeeds.
Turner succeeds, visions and all, in 1831 and liberates his county in Virginia, using the combined might of slaves, freedmen, and poor whites. Rebellion spreads through the state, with northern sympathizers and abolitionist committees donating weapons and supplies, eventually leading to a fully slave-led end to slavery. Do the newly freed slaves join the Union? Do they establish their own country? Multiple countries? This has the potential for binge-worthy backstabbing and political intrigue.
NORTH AND SOUTH: The Malian Kings of the 1300’s Land in South America.
The fabled expeditions of Abu Bakr II, king of Mali, succeed in finding “the limits of the ocean” — the South American coast — and establishes an outpost on the coast of what will become Brazil, eventually developing a persistent trading network. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a tale of conquest, though there will certainly be plenty of fighting for the more bloodthirsty among us. There are just as many chances for cultural exchange and mutual assimilation between Mali and the native peoples of the area. Bonus: The first season could be cast with all people of color actors. By the second season the Portuguese show up and all hell breaks loose.
Bonus for Comic Fans
THE ORIGINAL CREW: Avengers of the past, but Black.
Starting from the history lesson of Black Panther & The Crew in which Ezra Miller ran a superhero team as far back as the 1950s, telling that story in a witty, colorful, The Flash-style show. Great costumes and sets, plenty of retro atmosphere. Romance would be mandatory, both within the team and between one team mate and a non-super powered partner. This would also be a great chance to include some queer Black characters in a historical setting. Plus, Black folks fighting for each other all over the country, with occasional trips overseas. You could even have cameos from Captain America and other contemporary White people for that cross-over appeal. This one is a gimmie — Coates and Harvey have practically already written the first season. Who knows what history a team of Black superheroes could alter?