Update: Generation KKK, which was retitled Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America after serious backlash, has been canceled before the first episode aired, Variety reports. A&E said the reason for the cancelation was the discovery that families had been paid to participate in the series, which is a violation of the network's policies.
A spokesperson for the network told Variety, "We had previously provided assurances to the public and to our core partners — including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change — that no payment was made to hate group members, and we believed that to be the case at the time. We have now decided not to move forward with airing this project."
This story was originally published on December 19. In today’s episode of 2016 Is Trash, the network behind Bates Motel and Intervention just announced a new docuseries about KKK families in today’s America. According to Entertainment Weekly, A&E’s Generation KKK is set to debut in 2017 and will document four families with affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan. Each family has a member who is seeking to exit the hate group. And in a silver lining still not bright enough for me to tune in, the show will also introduce viewers to anti-hate activists and groups seeking to transition members out of the group. White people talking to other white people about not being terrible? Brilliant concept; should have been put to use last month, though. I can’t help but think that Generation KKK is mostly going to make moderate white people, many of whom still voted for Trump, feel better about not being as explicitly and violently hateful as the families on the show. In a statement, Rob Sharenow, the EVP and general manager of both A&E and Lifetime, said: “This series gives viewers an unprecedented look at what it is like to be born into hate.” He went on, “Our producers gained access to Klan families, allowing for full immersion into this secret world and its impact on the next generation. Generation KKK brings viewers inside the places where hatred and prejudice are born and bred, and carried forward or not.” Still. Don’t. Care. As a Black woman who just watched Donald Trump win the presidency on a platform charged with the same racist rhetoric that underlines the Klan, I don’t need to understand what it’s like to be born into hate. I actually need more people to understand what it’s like to be born as a target of that hate. Because of Trump’s victory, we can’t deny that groups like the Klan exist. I don’t need a reality show to remind me. And I don’t really care why racists are racists. Those eight hourlong segments would be better served following the resistance efforts of groups like BYP100 and The Dream Defenders. Take me inside the families of undocumented Americans who fear deportation. Follow the families of those killed by police. What about a series chronicling the continued fight for fresh water in Flint, MI? Let’s absolutely have a conversation about race, but not with the KKK because we already know what they have to say.