Every white liberal’s wet dream is to be able to successfully play the devil’s advocate to slavery. As a student of a very white liberal college and a graduate of a very white liberal performing arts school, I’m very used to the “Well the Irish were slaves,” “White people were enslaved too,” “Not every white person was for slavery,” and, my favorite, “Technically we’re all slaves today” bullshit. These are usually met with multiple black kid eye rolls and exasperated explanations of how modern day slavery to brands and technology is nothing compared to chattel fucking slavery.
Never did I think that a white liberal, let alone two, would make their slavery-remake fantasy real.
When news broke about Confederate, a show that asks the question “What would life be like if the south won the Civil War,” my immediate reaction was confusion and then disgust. Confusion because, as a young black woman, fantasizing about modern day slavery never entered my mind because why the ever fuck would I want that? Not to sound too redundant, but I’m black and noticeably so. And then disgust because ew what the fuck? Why would a show like this need to be made. Whose market is this?
And then it hit me - white people. White people are the market. Woke White Boys™ would love this show because it panders to white guilt. You know the “if slavery were today, I’d never participate” schtick.
However, the creation of this show does the usual white liberal bullshit by completely ignoring the feelings of black viewers and the black market. And no, the token black couple they have on as producers does not count.
Because slavery is something that exists in my ancestral bones, I don’t need another white liberal wet dream retelling the story of slavery or creating the story of “What if black people didn’t have what little rights they have today.” The reason why white liberal writers love to venture into the dark side of history is because they’ve always been the people to benefit from it. Their ancestors were the slave catchers and masters, the rapers and pillagers, the white housewives, the imperialists. It’s a warped sense of white guilt that allows them the audacity and the courage to create shows like this. That allows them to have the whitest justification for shows like this that mirror the one made by David Benioff in a Vulture interview.
I remember reading a history of the Civil War, I think it might have been the Shelby Foote one. And there’s a famous story, which I’m going to mash up, because my memory’s not what it used to be — but there’s a famous story of when Robert E. Lee was invading the North. Not the Gettysburg invasion, but an earlier one. And the set of orders got misplaced and were found by a Northern soldier. And it ended up ruining Lee’s invasion. A lot of people think if the orders hadn’t been lost, things might have been different: The Confederates might’ve sacked Washington, D.C., it’s possible the South could’ve won the war. So that notion of, what would the world have looked like if Lee had sacked D.C., if the South had won — that just always fascinated me.
This warped sense of white guilt and white liberalism allows these writers to take histories that they’ve only experienced second-handedly and create “social commentaries.” Well listen here D&D, I know you haven’t fucked up yet (even though technically this idea is the first fuck up) and I know you haven’t even started writing yet, but I need you and all your other cohorts and token blacks on your team to know my social reality is not your social commentary.
And I’m ending this by agreeing with a bell hooks quote.
I can live a very, very happy life if I never see another trauma porn filled, overdone story of slavery for the sake of “guys look how bad the past was” again. There’s other shitty parts of history. Stop profiting off of mines.