In this ‘Socially Conscious Monopoly’ Game, Race and Privilege Have Money


The first edition of Blacks & Whites was released more than 50 years ago, in 1970, but has since disappeared. On only a few occasions there is a copy on display for auction. The play is led by the later Robert Sommer, a renowned international professor at UC Davis and a pioneer in environmental psychology, studying how human behavior is affected by the design of the world around us, with Psychology Today. The original version was renowned as an educational tool to teach people about privilege from an early age. Markos and Feiman say they hope this tradition will continue.

“In the 1970s… I had three children and we always played board games, the most popular being Monopoly,” wrote Sommer, who died in February 2021, in the introductory revised edition, written while making yet it is. “As we played, I was amazed at how unrealistic it was … In Monopoly, it all starts with the same amount of money. That’s definitely not appropriate in the real world.

“I decided to change the rules and introduce bad players… As many parts of the county are covered by treaties and agreements banning Black residents, Black players in our game cannot buy own anywhere on the board first. They’ll start with little money and be subject to a lot of penalties that don’t affect white players. “

Robert Sommer lived in California in the sixties, where he began working to follow the game. a wave of racial unrest sweeping the United States, beginning in 1965 at Watts Rebellion in Watts, Los Angeles. The protests were sparked by allegations of police abuse against a 21-year-old American man who was pulled over for drunk driving, along with those standing at the scene where the man was arrested.

“The sad part is that things weren’t the same as they were 50 years ago,” said Barbara Sommer, wife of Robert Sommer, whom he “loved” while working on the original game. Society is highly diverse in many ways, but in many ways the same challenges for minorities from the 60s still exist halfway through a hundred years ago, he said. “They were able to maintain the same basic structure and just had to update the characters and properties. Things were definitely better, there was no question about that,” Sommer said. “But what surprised me was when how appropriate the game is. “

50 years later, Markos and Feiman reached out to Robert Sommer after murder of George Floyd, which also sparked mass protests against police brutality. He gives them the green light to move on and update the game. In the introduction he wrote that it was a “good idea” to revive Blacks & Whites. There have been many changes from the 70s, he writes, but “race relations have not gotten any better.”

“The timing was good, and we had time on our hands. After George Floyd was killed, so we both knew we had to do it,” Feiman said. “The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate.”

The game’s choice — to combine Monopoly’s race and privilege to make it even more realistic — remains the same as in the 50th anniversary edition. The game plan has been updated to fit 21st century society, as well as some properties that players can purchase, chance cards, spaces to go, and political topics ( such as changes, which offer free money to lucky Black characters, and gentrification, which confiscates the property of a less fortunate Black player). Players can also arrive at the Peaceful Protest space, where whites must wash up 20 large in the Reparations Pool and Black players will be “abandoned and taken straight to The Police Station.” In the original game, Black players could get opportunity cards such as “Mayor [Richard] Daley of Chicago was also selected. Directly to the prison. ”For white characters, a card can be read,



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