Let’s play a hypothetical game of Monopoly. It’ll be you, me and one other player. The game will continue for 24 hours, and since it I brought the game, we’ll use my house rules.
The bank grants me the titles for B&O Railroad and Kentucky Avenue to start.
I begin with $1,500 cash, and will go first.
I land on Oriental Avenue and buy it. I rolled double threes, so I get to take another turn. I buy St. Charles Place.
I get to continue rolling – for the next 9 hours, actually, as per house rules.
During this time, I travel around the board unabated, buying up as much property as possible. I don’t have much money yet, but can at least begin accumulating assets.
I pick up a couple more railroads, pass GO a bunch of times, and secure some properties. It’s slow and steady.
As the game enters its 9th hour, it’s finally your turn. But don’t be discouraged – there’s still plenty of time left.
Your first roll is a three…Baltic Avenue. The good news is – I don’t own it!
Unfortunately, we have a rule stating that each NP (new player) must have at least 30 minutes of experience before being granted the right to purchase property. My turn.
You continue taking your turns; but absent the permission to buy property, your goal basically becomes trying to avoid landing on anything owned by me.
Once this 30-minute moratorium has passed, you are excited by your next roll to find yourself sitting on States Avenue – which is the only property in the purple category that I do not own.
But alas, you weren’t given any money at the beginning of the game, and you don’t yet own any properties which would generate revenue – so you can’t afford to buy it. Maybe next time.
Your next several rolls bear similar outcomes. You continue to either land on my properties, or on those in which you can’t afford. Meanwhile, I make my way around the board, using my little influx of rent payments to purchase any properties I encounter.
A couple of hours later, you land on Pennsylvania Avenue. Impressively, you’ve saved up enough money for the purchase price!
However, I already own Pacific Avenue – and there’s a quirky rule that I’ve added stating that NPs cannot own a property in which an OP (original player) already owns one of the same color category. So, you’ll have to find another property to purchase.
Another half hour goes by and I pick up a few more properties, while using the profits from rent collection to start building houses. I begin modestly, with two each on the reds, and one each on the greens.
We’re 14 hours in and our 3rd player is really upset. She believes she has a right to play and begins to cause quite a scene, so I acquiesce and let her join in.
We play for nearly another four hours. I’ve been building a lot of houses, as the rents I’m collecting keep increasing, since there’s two of you now seeking accommodations. I put up a few hotels on the green properties, and build a couple of houses on Boardwalk and Park Place. I can’t afford all of these houses outright, so the bank lends me the funds which I can pay back at my convenience, when I’m more financially secure, with little-to-no interest, because I have enough assets to balance the risk.
Speaking of houses, despite being blocked before, you were eventually able to purchase both Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue.
Unfortunately, we’re only about 16 hours into the game. It’ll be another couple of hours before you’ll be allowed to build houses on those properties. Before that can happen, though, you’re forced to mortgage Baltic to pay for an unexpected stay at one of my beautiful houses at the luxurious North Carolina Ave.
It’s Fair Now
Listen, I’ll admit – the game didn’t really start off all that fair. Both you and our 3rd player were at a bit of a disadvantage. I completely admit that.
But I’ve worked to make sure that the rules are fair now – and so we’re all playing under the same set of guidelines. I suggest we just put this all behind us and enjoy the game. Honestly, if you want to keep talking about the past rules, you’ll start to sound like a sore loser. We should focus on the game as it is now, and not worry about things that we cannot change.
In fact, with all the rules that have been adjusted to help you and the other player compete, you really should be grateful. I’ve lowered some of the rents that you have to pay when you land on my properties, and have allowed you to borrow from the bank more freely. I didn’t have to do any of this – I was just trying to make everything equal. You should at least appreciate the effort.
There’s really no excuse for why any player should be lagging behind now, other than a lack of effort or skill. And it’s easy to see why someone who just started watching us play in the past few hours might assume that I’m just a superior player.
So – where did I come up with these unfair and discriminatory rules? My guess is that many of you have put it together by now. For the rest of you, allow me to walk you through it.
Our nation was formed in 1776, which is just over 240 years ago – so we’ll use that as our baseline. Those 240 years will directly correlate with our 24 hours.
Prior to 1776, white families had already been given millions of acres of land for free. And not just for free, but they were given an additional 50 acres for every slave they paid to have brought over from Africa, or every indentured servant from England. Those acres were given to the slave owners, by our government, for almost no money.
That land, by the way, belonged to the Native Americans – who were forced to flee.
This was the reason I was granted a couple of properties before my first roll.
It wasn’t until nearly 90 years later, in 1865, that slavery was abolished. Therefore, 9 hours seemed like a reasonable amount of time to wait before allowing you to travel the board freely.
Even then, it would be another 5 years before blacks could legally vote – and another century before they could actually vote. So, no – being allowed to buy property right away didn’t seem appropriate.
In 1920, or approximately 145 years after the birth of our nation, women were finally granted the right to vote. And, so after 14 ½ hours in our game, our third player was finally allowed to play.
The idea of not being able to purchase a green property because another player of a different stature already owned one of that color was the closest I could come to explaining what it must’ve been like for people of color, who were routinely denied access to low-interest home loans provided to Americans, but denied to people of color.
See, while it’s convenient to say “we’re all equal now,” it’s obvious that there are lasting, residual effects to all of our racial policies of the past – and this isn’t including slavery, which robbed the history away from an entire group of people.
In this country, white men had a 200-year head start in building their wealth. And if we aren’t even able to acknowledge these basic truths, then how are we ever expected to move forward?