Column: Ghettopoly

Why can’t we just leave the poor Monopoly board alone?

It’s bad enough we have StarWarsopoloy and IUopoly. Now we must suffer through less “PR” versions of the game.

Black leaders are speaking out against “Ghettopoly”, a new board game based on the popular Parker Brothers game that proved irons and hats can move of their own volition. Except now, instead of irons and hats, guns and bags of cocaine roam around the board.

The game is being sold by Urban Outfitters, a clothing store company whose main market is, surprisingly enough, not suburban preps.

Ghettopoly includes properties such as Westside Liquor, Harlem, The Bronx, Long Beach City, Cheap Trick Avenue and Hernando’s Chop Shop. Instead of “Chance” cards, Ghettopoloy has “Hustle” and “Ghetto Stash” cards. One of the more suitable for children cards directs the “playa” this way: “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50.”

Needless to say, many in the black community are not happy about this.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago, started a boycott of Urban Outfitters.

“I was outraged. We called Outfitters, we wrote them a letter, we held a press conference, but we’ve had no response,” Pfleger told the Associated Press.

I, for one, will be supporting this boycott fully because I look absolutely atrocious in a throw-back jersey anyway. My bling bling consists of two rubber bands I wear on my wrists.

David Chang, the creator of Ghettopoloy, defended the game on his Web site.

“It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter,” Chang maintains, adding, “If we can’t laugh at ourselves…we’ll continue to live in blame and bitterness.”

And isn’t it much better to live in Westside Liquor anyway? I own a hotel there.

Many would say the boycotters are making an issue out of something trivial. However, these people are wrong. Nobody has even made Ghetto Trivial Pursuit yet.

“If we are silent on this issue there is more of this type to come,” the Rev. Robert P. Shine Sr., president of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity, said at a sidewalk rally Wednesday in front Urban Outfitters’ corporate headquarters in Philadelphia according to the AP.

And he’s right. There is more of this to come.

Chang plans on coming out with Hoodopoly, Hiphopopoly, Thugopoly and Redneckopoly. It’s unknown if he hopes to create an Asianamericanopoloy.

Another controversy arising from this is Ghettopoly’s use of figures labeled “Malcum X” and “Martin Luthor King Jr.”, men who would have cringed at the site of young black children playing this game.

“This is beyond making fun, to use the caricature of Dr. King in this regard,” Rev. Glenn Wilson, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church told the AP. “There’s no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it.”

I highly doubt Chang had a racist intent. He had an economic intent. Chang saw a market and exploited it. Just like the crack dealers he’s having a good laugh with. Except playing Ghettopoly won’t get you ten to fifteen.

While Chang has every right to try and make a living, I hold nothing against the boycotters who are making an earnest social statement about racial stereotyping. The public will decide.

Now we just have to wait and see if it sells. For our sake, I hope not, because I don’t plan on spending weekends playing Suburbanmiddleclassopology with my family.


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