Social Justice Monopoly

FACT: Monopoly is a terrible board game.

 

Oh sure, you enjoy playing it with your family on holidays or whatever, but it's still terrible.  By every objective standard of board game design, Monopoly is awful.  There's no strategy.  Randomness far outstrips player choice.  Players can and will be eliminated before the end of the game. 

 

(The game does have nice goober, though, so maybe not EVERY standard.)

 

But that's because...

 

FACT: Monopoly is not a board game.

 

Monopoly, as originally conceived by Magie Phillips in 1903, was an educational tool.  It's an elaborate illustration of the trouble with unfettered markets.  Inevitably, in Monopoly, one player will gradually suck all the money out of the economy (except that everybody gets bored and quits before that).

 

In a board game, that's a win condition.  In real life, it's terrible because all the people who lose all their money just have to wait around and starve to death.

 

So, inspired by Ms. Phillips, I've created some house rules for Monopoly.  These rules are meant to help explain how systemic racism works in America.  

 

 

1) Instead of normal pieces, use chess pieces.  You'll have two kings, two queens, two bishops, and two knights.  (You could use rooks, but they're boring.)

 

2) Get rid of hotels.  That's not part of the Social Justice rules.  Hotels just ruin monopoly.  They put houses back into circulation, meaning the game takes longer.

 

3) There is no money on free parking.  That's also just a bad idea in Monopoly.  It makes the game go on longer to no effect.  Also, that’s the actual rule.  I don’t know what moron came up with money on free parking, but it’s terrible.

 

4) Players with black pieces receive one bill less of each denomination at the beginning of the game. (http://inequality.org/racial-inequality/)

 

5) Players with black pieces only get $100 for passing Go. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/07/01/racial-gender-wage-gaps-persist-in-u-s-despite-some-progress/)

 

6) Players with black pieces are not allowed to buy property until they have crossed GO once.  Players with black pieces can never buy utilities or railroads. (http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1111&context=bjalp)

 

7) Players with black pieces go to jail upon rolling their second consecutive double.  The fine to get out of jail for black pieces is $100.  Black players must roll doubles twice, consecutively, to get out of jail without paying the fine or playing a Get out of Jail free card. (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/18/chart-of-the-week-the-black-white-gap-in-incarceration-rates/)

 

Now, since I'd never actually make anyone play Monopoly, don’t feel like you need to break out a set and try this.  Just answer one question: Which color piece is most likely to win?

 

That's systemic racism.  Without any of the white players ever trying, they're automatically going to crush the black players just because the odds are stacked that way.  It's not about hate, so much as about unexamined assumptions.  Imagine playing this game, but the banker passed out all the money and adjudicates all the rules but somehow keeps the changes hidden from the players.  If you have a white piece, you might wonder why the players with black pieces don't buy property, or how they end up in jail so often.  You might assume they're bad players, because clearly you're not a bad player and you're buying property right and left, and hardly ever end up in jail.  (And when you do, you can afford the fine to get out.)  You could go the whole game, and never realize the reason the black pieces ran out of money so fast wasn't because they were too stupid to buy properties-- they just couldn't afford it.

 

The links I provide just barely scratch the surface.  I encourage you to look into the history of Redlining in particular.  Owning a home has traditionally been the best way for families in America to build wealth, and black families were barred from that for far too long (and still are, to some extent).