Monopoly: Racial Inequality Edition
June 24th, 2021

Imagine a game of monopoly in which the top hat starts out with all the money and property, and the shoe has nothing. How would that game play out? The shoe would collect a $200 salary every lap, which would slowly build up, right? Until the rent is due—fork it over to the top hat. What about jail? The top hat can buy his way out, the shoe can’t. Let’s say after 30 laps around the board, the players hand off their positions to a new generation. How much progress could the shoe make by the 5th generation?

I’ve left some things out: the shoe couldn’t buy property or houses north of Baltic Ave until player 4 took over, and while the top hat got $200 each lap, the shoe only got $68. This has been the economic landscape of light and dark Americans for the last 156 years.

In many families, only 5 generations of adults have existed post slavery. The first 4 of those generations had a boot on their neck when trying to access banks, schools, healthcare, courts, jobs, transportation, voting booths, and restaurant booths. That anyone pulled themselves free from that is incredible.

Listening to certain media outlets, you’d think Black Americans today live entirely free of these discriminations or any residual impact from them; in fact, you’ll flat out be told that it’s the other way around now—that Black Americans have all the power handed to them and the cards are stacked against Whites. Over the years, actions have been taken to rebalance the rigged economics of the Monopoly game I described, like an extra community chest pile for the shoe. Media personalities and politicians rail against this, claiming it’s discrimination against hard working top hats, and that the whole system is now biased toward shoes.

Those poor, discriminated against top hats.

Let’s clarify: the system has been obscenely rigged in favor of top hats from the beginning; in recent decades, we’ve taken steps to undo this and bring the two closer to parity with each other. Listening to the media and politicians I mentioned, you’d think they’d reached parity and blown past it, that we are now needlessly elevating subordinate groups way over the heads of Whites. In reality, they’ve barely left the ground.