The violent murder of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis police officers sparked a movement across the country against racial injustice. Protesters came together to address systemic racism faced by Black people following the deaths of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. While the message is loud and clear that Black Lives Matter and police brutality must end, videos of violence and looting on social media have distracted many from the movement’s focus.
Instead of focusing on the injustices faced by Black folk, many people are instead questioning the methods of protest. As a result, author Kimberly Latrice Jones took it upon herself to explain why some people were looting, in addition to explaining the history of Black wealth and its erasure. Jones’ explanation, in which she used the popular board game Monopoly as an analogy to break down the truth, has gone viral on social media.
“When you have a civil unrest like this, you have three types of people—protesters, rioters, and looters,” Jones said.”Protesters are there because they actually care about what is happening in the community, they want to raise their voices and are there strictly to protest … rioters who are angry, who are anarchists and who really just want to fuck shit up and they’re going to do that regardless, and then you have the looters and looters are just there to do that, to loot.”
She went on to explain that many focus on what people are looting, instead of the why or reason behind the action. Additionally, she said that people assume looters just want free items and are not there for the actual cause, without questioning the history of wealth made on the backs of Black people.
“Let’s ask ourselves why in this country in 2020, why the financial gap between poor Blacks and the rest of the world is at such a distance that people feel their only hope and only opportunity to get some of the things that we flaunt and flash in front of them all the time is to walk through a broken glass window and get it,” she said. Jones continued: “Why are people that poor? Why are people that broke? Why are people that food insecure, clothing insecure that they feel their only shot is walking through a broken glass window and getting it?”
To make matters more simple and understandable, Jones then used the board game Monopoly to explain why African Americans cannot just “pull themselves up by their boot straps and get it on their own.” She used the game to reflect on the country’s history of slavery and oppression of Black people. She began by saying that Black folk were brought to the U.S. for economic growth, including textile and agriculture work, a fact often erased in conversation.
“Now, if I right now decided that I wanted to play Monopoly with you and for 400 rounds of playing Monopoly I didn’t allow you to have any money, I didn’t allow you to have anything on the board—anything—and then we played another 50 rounds of Monopoly and everything that you gained and you earned while playing those rounds was taken from you.”
She made connections to historically thriving African American communities such as Tulsa and Rosewood, which were destroyed by white mobs.
“So for 400 rounds of Monopoly, you don’t get to play at all. Not only do you not get to play, you have to play on behalf of the person that you’re playing against, you have to earn money and wealth for them and then you have to turn it over to them,” she said. “And then for 50 years you finally get a little bit and you’re allowed to play but any time they don’t like the way that you’re playing or you’re catching up or that you’re doing something to be self-sufficient, they burn your game, burn your cars, and burn your Monopoly money.”
In her speech, Jones passionately shares the harsh reality that “the game is fixed” and some people “don’t own anything.” She sheds light on not only the historical injustice Black Americans have faced, but asks thought-provoking questions reshifting the focus of the movement from looting and violence to the ugly reality of racial injustice. “And they are lucky that all Black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.”
Watch Jones’s speech below:
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