Amid the controversy swirling around HBO's Confederate, Amazon is producing its own post-Civil War alt-history drama project — one set in a world where African-Americans form a thriving sovereign nation.
In development for more than a year, Black America was first revealed in February as an untitled drama project in the vein of the online giant's ongoing streaming series The Man in the High Castle, based on Philip K. Dick's vision of a world where the Axis powers won the Second World War.
The forthcoming Amazon series comes from writer Aaron McGruder, the Peabody Award-winning creator of The Boondocks and Black Jesus, and top producer Will Packer, whose movie successes include this summer's hit Girls Trip, the buddy cop comedy Ride Along and rap biopic Straight Outta Compton.
In the world of Black America, which will be set in contemporary times, the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are granted to newly freed African Americans as reparations for slavery and become a sovereign nation called New Colonia.
The show will delve into how, after two decades of peace during a tumultuous relationship with the United States, the ascendant New Colonia tackles joining "the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline," according to industry publication Deadline.
The idea "was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American," Packer told Deadline.
The news comes as cable network HBO continues damage control over its controversial upcoming drama project Confederate, the next project from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
The project — revolving around an alternative history where southern states secede from the U.S. after the Civil War and slavery has evolved into a modern institution — drew a significant backlash on social media immediately after its announcement.
It was actually HBO's announcement that prompted the Black America team to reveal details of their project's premise.
"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 told Deadline.
Though he declined to comment directly on HBO's Confederate, which Benioff and Weiss are creating with married writers Malcolm and Nichelle Tramble Spellman, Packer noted that "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."