How #NoConfederate Became a Trending Clarion Call

By Sameer Rao Jul 31, 2017

Black Twitter users returned to their beloved platform to condemn HBO‘s "Confederate," an upcoming drama about an alternate history where the Confederacy wins the Civil War and continues to enslave Black people. Media critic and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign joined forces with Black Girl NerdsJamie Broadnax, journalist ReBecca Theodore-Vachon, filmmaker Lauren Warren and media personality Shanelle Little to launch the trending #NoConfederate social media campaign this weekend.

Reign announced the campaign with a series of tweets last week. The posts echoed much of the prior criticism around the show’s apparent reliance on Black trauma and the fact that White executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benihoff (both of "Game of Thrones") are attached to the project: 

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) writes that the campaign, which intentionally targeted last night’s (July 30) airing of Weiss and Benihoff’s popular fantasy HBO series "Game of Thrones," grew into the number one domestic and number two international Twitter trending topic. Twitter users, including Reign’s co-organizers and other prominent critics and creatives like Bree Newsome, used the hashtag to uplift their own criticisms about the show: 

Reign elaborated on the campaign during an appearance on CBS This Morning today (July 31), saying, "There are times when things are so egregious, that you don’t need to wait for them to come to fruition before you object to them" and adding that her hope to "have the show ‘Confederate’ not see the light of day."

The campaign began a week after the show’s executive producers and writers, including Black married couple Nichelle Tramble Spellman ("The Good Wife") and Malcolm Spellman ("Empire"), discussed the show’s premise with Vulture and implored critics to not write off the show based on a press release. "Me and Nichelle are not props being used to protect someone else," Malcolm said. "We are people who feel a need to address issues the same way they do, and [critics and media] should at least humanize the other end of those tweets and articles."

The Spellmans also addressed the controversy during a Thursday (July 27) appearance on NPR’s "All Things Considered," with Malcolm saying that "our own people marginalized us like that" by ignoring or downplaying their association to the project. He also conceded that "the rollout just wasn’t right."

HBO responded to the #NoConfederate backlash with the following statement to THR and other media outlets last night: 

We have great respect for the dialogue and concern being expressed around "Confederate." We have faith that [writers] Nichelle, Dan, David and Malcolm will approach the subject with care and sensitivity. The project is currently in its infancy so we hope that people will reserve judgment until there is something to see.

Little tweeted this response to HBO’s statement: