In Monopoly, a chance card might tell you to pass “Go.” But in Ghettopoly, a “Hustle” card may instruct you to go “straight to Cheap Tricks Ave.”
A spoof on Monopoly, Ghettopoly has been available since September both online and in stores across the country — including Urban Outfitters on Broadway. But the game has enraged some Yalies, who gathered at the Afro-American Cultural Center Wednesday afternoon to plan a letter to the New York Times and express their concerns about the game and its message.
Black Student Alliance at Yale Political Action Chair Adrian J. Hopkins ’06, the meeting’s organizer, invited several representatives from the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — who have spoken out against the game — to the meeting. NAACP of Greater New Haven President Scot X. Esdaile, Vice President Doris Dumas, Chairperson for Political Action Clifton Graves and representative Maurice Williams said they plan to fully support the students and also offered advice on the letter.
The discussion at the Af-Am House focused not only on problems with the game specifically, but also on how the game represents larger problems the black community faces. Sonya Winton GRD ’05, an organizer for Concerned Black Students at Yale, said she is concerned that the game is symbolic of a broader problem of the “commodification of urban culture.”
The game reworks components of the traditional Monopoly game. Instead of the top hat, race car, and thimble, the “playa pieces” of Ghettopoly include a marijuana leaf, a pimp, a “ho” and crack cocaine. The game also replaces Broadway, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Park Place with the Bronx, Busta Rap Recording and Ray Ray’s Chicken.
David Chang, the game’s creator, said in a press release that the game was not meant to offend but rather to entertain.
“Ghettopoly is controversial because it’s both fun and real life,” Chang said in the press release. “The graphics on the board depict every race in the country and both genders. It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and how we each utilize the various stereotypes, then we’ll continue to live in blame and bitterness.”
But students who attended the meeting said they find the game offensive.
“The image on the front cover is a large black man jumping out of the word ‘Ghettopoly,'” Sarita Barton ’05 said. “He has a gun in one hand and a forty ounce in the other. That alone is worth a public debate.”
In spite of the overwhelming criticism of the game, Winton encouraged students to consider possible arguments in support of the game when writing their letter.
“Is this just an expression of free speech?” Winton said. “Should we just be able to laugh at ourselves?”
But students agreed that laughing would simply trivialize deeper issues. They discussed the possibility of protesting Urban Outfitters if the store re-stocks the games.
Brian Hull, manager of the Urban Outfitters store location on Broadway, said he could not make a public statement on behalf of Urban Outfitters.
Esdaile said he is organizing a press conference in front of Urban Outfitters at 4 p.m. on Thursday if the store continues selling Ghettopoly.
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