I found the (rather poor) graphic above posted with a 2010 blog piece on black separatism, but Amazon.com reportedly plans to put out an alternative-history series called “Black America,” in which black separatists create a new nation called “New Colonia” out of three former slave states. Black separatism is A-OK, but HBO’s “Confederate,” in which the Southern whites no doubt would be the villains, is not. This situation is not sustainable.
“I hope that these what-if-history-had-turned-out-differently television series don’t proliferate too profusely,” I wrote very recently of HBO’s plans for an alternative-history series called “Confederate,” adding, “but I don’t recall Amazon.com being called anti-Semitic for having resurrected Hitler [in its alternative-history series ‘The Man in the High Castle’], so I think it’s incredibly bullshit for the creators of ‘Game of Thrones’ to be called racist for planning to resurrect the South.”
I was, unfortunately, prescient.
Slate.com reported yesterday that “now Amazon has revealed that it’s planning ‘Black America,’ a series created by Will Packer and ‘Boondocks’ cartoonist Aaron McGruder in which, as a form of reparations, black Americans have annexed three former slave states and founded a country of their own called New Colonia.”
Very apparently, Amazon is planning a series that glorifies black separatism when the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies black-separatist groups as hate groups along with white-separatist groups.
I mean, would Amazon, HBO, Netflix or any other mainstream entertainment corporation put out a series called “White America” about white separatists who had succeeded in gaining a portion of the nation for whites only? Methinks not, even if the whites in the series clearly were the uber-villains. It would be way too radioactive.
But in the current sociopolitical environment, black separatism apparently is A-OK.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course I get it that whites enslaved and then continued and still continue to oppress blacks, not vice-versa, at least at the institutional level (although sometimes it is vice-versa at the individual level, and I long have believed that one-on-one interactions are much more important than are groups, since we interact with others as individuals and not as entire fucking groups). And of course I get it that throughout U.S. history whites (as a group) always have had the numbers, the money, the power and the resources that blacks (as a group) have not, so that it hasn’t been a level playing field. And did I mention that whites enslaved blacks and not the other way around?
But while the early descriptions of HBO’s proto-embryonic “Confederate” give me the clear impression that the whites in “Confederate” will be the villains, Slate.com’s description of “Black America” sure sounds like a ringing endorsement of black separatism.
…“Black America” was first announced in February, but Amazon kept the show’s details under wraps, saying only that it would be vaguely along the lines of “The Man in the High Castle.” But the controversy over “Confederate” has prompted the company to show their hand, undoubtedly because the premise of “Black America” sounds a lot like some of the things that critics behind the #NoConfederate campaign have suggested as possible alternatives.
The Deadline article focuses on the issue of reparations, saying “Black America” “may have a sense of wish-fulfillment” for, as Packer puts it, “black Americans who are suffering from the effects of slavery in various ways.” But the idea for the series verges on more intriguing terrain yet, suggesting how a U.S. devoid, or at least largely evacuated, of people of color might founder and fail, while the nation of New Colonia prospers. …
Wow. I could point to many nations in the real world that are run by blacks and not by whites that, to put it very mildly and charitably, don’t prosper, and then we could have the discussion as to how responsible whites (and white supremacism and white anti-black racism) still are for failed black nations and how much responsibility the black people in those failed nations should take for that failure, but I’m still blown away by the very idea of a black-separatist fantasy series being put out by any large, credible media company.
All of that said, as I have established, I am a strong supporter of the freedom of expression, and so no, unlike the self-serving, free-speech-hating, “safe-space”-loving assholes who already are protesting “Confederate” — no, actually, they’re not really “protesting” it as much as they’re trying to kill it before it even is born — I have no plan to join any public backlash against “Black America” that might materialize before it even airs (emphasis, of course, on “before it even airs”; we’ll see how I feel after it airs).
“Black America” sounds much worse to me than “Confederate,” but I don’t believe in prior censorship and I believe in the marketplace of ideas. Let Amazon do its thing and let the chips fall where they will. (I do a lot of business with Amazon and so I’d hate to have to boycott Amazon, so I’m hoping that if “Black America” actually materializes, it has cultural/social/artistic merit and isn’t essentially just a hate-whitey fest.)
And also as I have stated, I think that it’s fine for historically oppressed groups to have their own culture, their own novels, their own songs, their own television shows, their own movies, etc. As a gay man who always has been in a heterosexist dominant culture, I know how important it is for a subculture to have its own creations of artistic expression.
But separatism is something else.
The whole hate thing aside, how incredibly boring and soul-arresting it would be to be surrounded only by others who look, think and act just like you do. It sure might feel great at first, but then the soul rot would set in.
Yes, indeed, visit with the members of your own tribe regularly and often.
But then, at least on occasion and with some regularity, come back to the whole to share what you have to offer and to receive what others of other tribes have to offer.
The early description of “Black America” doesn’t seem to share that sentiment at all, and while I think that I can understand the appeal of black separatism to those blacks who have felt the grinding effects of white anti-black racism the most, I don’t see that black separatism ultimately is any better for them than white separatism is for whites or for the nation or for the world.