Tag Archives: income

If America were a game of Monopoly

Abagond had a fascinating post recently imagining what the rules would be “If America were a game of Monopoly.”  Read some of the rules below and be sure to check out the rest of the post here.

Questions to think about as you read: What about gender -are there different rules for men and women?  How does the white player’s success depend on the exploitation of non-whites in the even larger game of Monopoly – the world?  What about class?  In the 1950s non-whites were restricted from purchasing property in white neighborhoods; in what types of ways are non-whites or poorer people restricted from purchasing property today? 


1. There are four players: one white, one red, one black and one yellow.

2. The white player is the banker.

3. Starting amounts: Before play begins give each player the following amounts to start with:

  • $1500 white
  • $1085 yellow
  • $105 black
  • $75 red

(Based on median household net worth in 2000.)

Go here to read rules 4-8.

9. Jail:

  • Going to jail: Red and black players go to jail if they land on any corner square except for the Just Visiting Jail square. (Blacks are three times more likely to be stopped by the police and have their car searched. Both blacks and Native Americans are way more likely to wind up in prison than whites.)
  • Getting out of jail: To get out of a jail you must pay $1000 or wait five turns. (Prison is way more damaging than in Monopoly. Also, it is way easier for the rich to avoid prison altogether.)

Advice to white players:

If the other players complain that the rules are unfair, say “Get over it!” Point out that the game is fair and democratic: they can always ask for a rule change and put it to a vote. Also point out that the white player does not always win, so if they lose it is their own fault.

Personal observations:

Most white players act as if the same rules and conditions apply to everyone, as if everyone starts with $1500 and gets $200 for passing Go, etc. If anything, they think yellow players get more for passing Go, that black players get more turns and that red players are too noble to care about winning.


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