Even with everything that’s gone on in our country in the past year, some people still don’t know how to talk about being black in America without referring to colorblindness or hilariously and incorrectly suggesting that talking about race is somehow racist. Well Elize Diop aims to change the way people talk about race with a new game called Black Blocks.
As the game’s promotional video explains, each player is given four black blocks and one red block. The person whose name comes first alphabetically starts the game by selecting a card from one of piles. Following the instructions, they either answer a question about a statistic or a possible scenario or get a free pass. Some topics for the questions include things like ethnicity, skin color, gender, and sexuality to name a few, showing that there’s more to talking about race than, well, race.
When a card requires a response from the player, they not only have to choose a response, but explain and defend it to the other players. If the other players agree with their choice, they get to remove one block, if not, the player has to add another block. You can expect questions like this:
"You say the 'n' word so much that your 'non-Black' friends are starting to say it too. What do you do?"
· A. Shrug it off and say nothing.
· B. Ask them to stop.
· C. Neither (explain)
Some cards include a number that corresponds with the game’s “Black Fact Booklet,” and players can turn to a corresponding page in the booklet to learn more about what was discussed on the card.
What I like about this game is that it aims to change how discussions about race are framed. I think people often avoid discussing race because it can be uncomfortable, but that’s all the more reason why race needs to be addressed, especially in the US. Maybe a game built around having open discussions about real-life microaggressions and statistics will help mediate that.
Black Blocks isn’t available for wide release yet. But if you’d like to support Diop and help her make 1,200 sets of the game, you can donate to the Black Blocks Kickstarter. Diop is trying to raise $18,000 for Black Blocks by the end of February.
Image: Screengrab/Issa Rae Youtube