#NoConfederate: Why HBO's Upcoming Series Needs To Be Stopped
By Clarkisha Kent
The final season of Game of Thrones should be accompanied with tearful goodbyes and robust applause as the gargantuan, fantastical series comes to an epic and well-deserved end.
But instead, here I am rolling my eyes at it all, hoping that it keeps its production team and writers busy forever and ever just so I don't have to deal with their upcoming series.
...This series in question is the, how do I put this, "ambitious" Confederate.
Just in case you are not aware, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, are betting all of the things on their next big project, Confederate. This series bravely goes where no show has gone before...
...by imagining slavery in a modern day context in some “alternate dimension”.
Honestly, if they were really just that bored, they could have done some "high fantasy" series on the American prison-industrial complex, you know, actual modern-day slavery but I digress.
But that would make too much sense.
Aside from the obvious concern that we have for this show being in the "capable" hands of the two men who were in charge of one of the whitest high-fantasy shows—complete with a feel-good White savior story (re: Daenerys and The Unsullied, Daenerys and The Dothraki people, etc)—in recent history, Confederate, even as a concept, is just a terrible fucking idea to begin with. And while I'm pretty irate about this news (it speaks to a particular level of boldness and Caucasity to think this is okay), I'm not shocked.
And here's why:
1. America is not and has never been “post-slavery”.
For an idea to be conceptually suitable in an “alternate universe”, the current one (our present one) must have sufficiently dealt with it or surpassed it already.
Such is not the case of American slavery.
If my cheeky comment earlier about the prison system was not already a dead giveaway, I will spell out more bluntly for you:
America has not "gotten over" slavery. Contrary to popular belief. But for some reason, White Americans tend to think so and we can credit most of this belief to the election of [former] President Barack Obama. And, you know, White America’s collective refusal to confront its racist sins of present and future past...with the current sin in question being the enslavement and subjugation of Black folx as well as the original sin of the mass genocide and land theft of Native Americans/First Nations people.
Having put a Black man in the highest political office in the western world has convinced most of White America that race relations in this country were solved forever and, as a result, slavery need not be discussed anymore. Mind you, this is in light of the fact that nothing resembling reparations has been returned to Black Americans in this country (although some may believe Obama's election to be reparations, which is bullshit), thus ensuring that racial inequality on a financial/socioeconomic level remains the same. This is also in light of the fact that Jim Crow barely ended 50 years ago. And slavery itself barely ended 200+ years ago.
White Americans may have a short memory, but history does not.
And that's the thing. Slavery is only "over" by name and lives on through various other means in America. Slavery is embedded in every fiber of this country...down to its inception and up to its modern day "labor" system (re the prison-industrial complex). Slavery, and its effects thereof (which include institutional racism and imperialist, capitalist, White supremacist patriarchy), still permeates throughout every membrane of this country. In housing. In medicine. In education. In entertainment. In the wealth gap. In the work force. In unequal levels of debt carried.
In general quality of life. Period.
And because slavery is very much still current, for HBO and company to pretend that setting a show about such subject matter in some “alternate universe” is acceptable is not only disingenuous, but it is unfeasible, factually incorrect, and intellectually dishonest. You don't need an “alternate dimension” to discuss slavery. You need only look at this one.
But just in case you need more convincing on the dangers of something like Confederate, here's another one:
2. In 2017, White nationalists are experiencing their very own renaissance.
I started this off thinking that maybe renaissance was not the right word, but after a lot of thought, I determined that that's exactly what is going on. As connoisseurs of White supremacy, business has never been BETTER for White Supremacists and White nationalists. After being thoroughly empowered and reinvigorated by The Orange's™ bigoted and self-congratulating campaign to “Make America Great Again”, White supremacists and nationalists have seen a rise in their cause, boldness, and numbers.
I mean, think about it. White supremacists and White nationalists are having a phenomenal year. Media outlets like LA Times and Mother Jones placed them on their front pages, calling them “dapper". They get a pass to operate in the open, while Black Lives Matter, Assata’s Daughters, and such are the ones that are declared terrorist groups. Hate crimes that they perpetuate spiked after the election of the Orange™ and have been rising ever since. Their "freedom" to utter their wretched doctrine apparently trumps the marginalized lives that are in danger due to that very doctrine.
And you know, "allies", well-meaning White folx, and plenty other White Liberals and White Pragmatists could put a stop to it all by doing more than "having discussions", telling us to “wait on it”, and holding so-called “diversity panels”. They could….actually confronting the demon in the room. But, of course, that would require a level of dedication and wealth and power redistribution that many of them aren't ready for yet, no matter how hard they try to convince you with their calls to “resist”.
So...instead of confronting White supremacists, they are opting to give them a show to masturbate to instead.
Nevermind that people still cosplay the Civil War. Nevermind that people still romanticize the Confederacy and worship it abroad. Nah. Let's give White supremacists and White nationalists exactly what they want. Let’s give them an entire alternate dimension where their wildest, racist dreams have come to fruition. Where The South is back on top, where slavery never ended, and where Black folx are back to being literally and physically under their "working-class" boots versus figuratively and loosely, under institutional racism.
But you know? This is the ultimate example of White fragility and denial of culpability. White folx would rather greenlight a show akin to "alternate dimension" slavery fan fiction (where they still own Black folx as public and private property), than confront the fact that America would not exist without the subjugation, exploitation, and damn near eradication of Black folx. And this is all under the guise of "starting a conversation" or "giving way to dialogue between" bigots who have no need for conversation and their marginalized targets (Black folx in this case) who have more to lose (i.e. denial of our very humanity) by attempting dialogue with them.
Because it has always been more important to use Black pain for entertainment, “education”, and ratings (and profit!) versus fixing its root cause.
Which is why Confederate's pending existence is completely unsurprisingly, yet remains woefully reprehensible and disturbing. And no amount of co-signing from even established Black writers and creatives like Malcolm and Nichelle Tramble Spellman is going to change that.
Indeed. If Benioff and Weiss want to do something truly revolutionary with “alternate dimensions”, they can imagine an “alternate dimension” where Christopher Columbus drowned at sea, taking all his disease with him. Or an alternate dimension where Native Americans drove out colonial settlers instead of welcoming them (something that proved to be a fatal mistake). Or an alternate dimension where Black Africans killed the first European and Portuguese explorers to set foot on West African soil.
Give us that. Give us alternate futures and alternate dimensions that very well would have changed the course of history and the lives of marginalized peoples forever. Not more of the same that reinforces the status quo.
Clarkisha Kent aka Lex Luther aka [REDACTED] doubles, triples, and quadruples as a Blerd, a Crystal Gem, and a Care-Free Black Girl. She is the co-creator of the entertainment blog Sublime Zoo and co-creator of the podcast We Robbed A Zoo. She has also been featured on The Root, The Establishment, and BET.