Imagine a New Slave Nation


The Civil War ended in a standstill; or a draw. The South and the North kept their political, social, military and labor systems intact. Imagine a modern slave nation that came to be under these circumstances. That’s the alternate reality story line of the new HBO series being created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. They are the producers of Game of Thrones – the show that holds the Emmy-award record for a scripted television series. Their new, and controversial, series is called Confederate.

Confederate – the story about a modern time with slavery still in place – has come under severe attack. That’s because there are already great divisions in this country. They exist between Black Americans and White Americans 152 years after the end of the Civil War and legal slavery. Black Lives Matter protests are evidence of these divisions. They may be seen in concerns about the mass incarceration of African Americans. They may be seen in reports about police brutality. They may be seen in reports of the gaps between Blacks and Whites in income, education, and health outcomes. They may be seen in our churches, our schools, and our workplaces.

And so it might lead one to ask what in the world all of the fuss is about?  Could an imaginary world with slavery still in place really be that much different from the one we live in today? Where it counts is in the thinking of White Americans and Black Americans about their positions in our society relative to one another. That thinking, and the conditions it produces, has not changed since the 1600s. Since that thinking has not changed, it is likely that the imaginary world of Confederate will look a lot like today.

The false system of white superiority and black inferiority that was created to support the labor system of racial slavery is still in place. The false thinking that supported that system is still in place. To imagine a new world where the Civil War ended in a stalemate with the North and the South intact, Confederate will have to imagine a world other than the one we live in right now. Because, that is not an alternate reality, it already exists.

The Unpaid Labor Project imagines a more prosperous world where the thinking that was created to support America’s racial slave labor system is abolished. That will come from acknowledging the Contribution of the first 12 generations of African Americans and abolishing the thinking that gave us the status quo. That’s a world worth imagining.