After the board game Ghettopoly sparked national controversy and heated protest from black leaders, national retailer Urban Outfitters pulled the game from store shelves at its 61 locations Thursday, including its New Haven store on Broadway, NAACP leaders said.
At a news conference in front of Urban Outfitters Thursday, local black leaders, politicians and students called the board game disrespectful and degrading to the urban community. A spoof of Monopoly, Ghettopoly has angered black leaders because of its racially-motivated depictions. On one board space, “Martin Luthor King Jr.” — intentionally misspelled — is drawn scratching his genital region and saying “I have an itch,” a reference to King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Greater New Haven National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Scot Esdaile said the game was “sickening and degrading filth” that takes the worst stereotypes in the black urban community — pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and “thugs” — and “glorifies” them.
“We understand everyone’s right to free speech and the right to make a dollar in this society, [but] we are totally outraged about this particular product,” Esdaile said. “It is deplorable and downright disrespectful to the African-American community. The NAACP will not tolerate this nonsense.”
The game has been available online and in stores across the country since September. New Haven Urban Outfitters store manager Brian Hull said the retailer removed Ghettopoly from locations across the country due to customer concern, but declined to comment further.
State Rep. Kenneth Green of Hartford also spoke at the news conference, calling on Urban Outfitters to stop selling the board game.
Officials at University Properties, which leases Urban Outfitters’ Broadway storefront, asked the New Haven store to remove Ghettopoly earlier this week because the leasing agent found the game offensive, University Properties Director David Newton said.
The game was designed by Pennsylvania entrepreneur David Chang, 28, to be “extreme and eye-catching,” according to a Ghettopoly news release.
“If you’ve had your head in the politically correct sand for the past 20 years, you may not recognize the stereotype realities in this game,” the release said.
Chang is currently developing more board games — Hoodopoly, Hiphopopoly, Thugopoly and Redneckopoly, according to his Web site.
Black Student Alliance at Yale Political Action Chair Adrian Hopkins ’06 spoke at the news conference. He said the most significant issue at hand is the exploitation of the urban lifestyle in pop culture as a “commodity.”
“It appalls me to see that it’s flying off the shelves nationwide — what has this game tapped into in the American consciousness?” Hopkins said.
While Ghettopoly is focused on black urban culture, it also depicts stereotypes of Jewish and Asian cultures. Seth Niedermayer ’06 said that as long as the game mocks everyone, it does not bother him.
“Saturday Night Live does the same thing,” Niedermayer said. “It makes fun of everyone. The movies, music and pop culture all talk about the ghetto. The derogatory meaning isn’t there anymore. I don’t see why anyone would get upset over this game and not publicly upset about rappers or movies or any other pop culture items that pertain to the ghetto.”