Ghettopoly Should Force
Us to Look in the Mirror
by Geoffrey Moore
A New Visions Commentary
paper published December 2003 by The National Center for Public
Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited.
"Ghettopoly," a parody board
game, recently made big news and drew a lot of protestors. But
the protesters were selective in their anger.
Based on the popular board game "Monopoly,"
"Ghettopoly" claims to satirize ghetto "culture"
and gangsta-rap stereotypes. Properties players can buy include
"Tyron's Gun Shop" and "Smitty's XXX Peep Show,"
while game pieces include a crack rock, pimp, prostitute and
an Uzi machine gun. "Hustle" and "Ghetto Stash"
replace "Chance" and "Community Chest" cards.
The game's objective is to get the most money through stealing
"Ghettopoly" is sold on the
Internet and, until the controversy erupted, was available at
Urban Outfitters clothing stores.
Protests began in black churches in cities
such as St. Petersburg, Chicago and Philadelphia. Reverend Glenn
Wilson of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia
told the Associated Press: "There's no way that game could
be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent
in marketing it."
The game's creator, David Chang, claims
the game is not racist. He instead describes it as edgy.
Chang, who was born in Taiwan and moved
to the United States at the age of eight, has never experienced
ghetto life himself. Guess where he says he got the idea and
material to make the game? Watching rap videos on MTV, of course.
Future plans include a companion game called "Redneckopoly."
Why all the protests and pickets? Maybe
it is because someone who isn't black is selling this game? All
one has to do is turn on the television to MTV, BET or listen
to radio targeted at young blacks. Or go buy some of rapper Nelly'
"Pimp Juice" drink or the "Pimps Up, Hos Down"
DVD (called "gleefully trashy" by Vibe magazine) at
Best Buy. The same message comes across, but without much of
While I do not like nor intend to ever
buy this game, the ire of the protestors is badly misplaced.
The game is merely reflective of deviant cultural practices being
accepted in black communities. If these protestors really want
to address the stereotypes in this game, address the behavior
from which the stereotypes result!
If people wish to continue their protest
of "Ghettopoly," I fully expect them to line up outside
the offices of Viacom (which owns MTV and BET), Vivendi Universal,
Arista and other sellers of offensive material. While Chang and
Urban Outfitters were the focus of the protests, others who reach
a lot more people are getting a free pass.
To their credit, Hasbro, which owns the
rights to "Monopoly," has sought a cease and desist
order against Chang. He doesn't take it seriously, however, since
he says there are other "Monopoly"-type games out there.
Perhaps Chang offers more expert insight
into stealing than he realizes.
(Geoffrey Moore is a member
of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership
network Project 21, and an MBA student and market analyst in
the Chicago area. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author,
and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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