Kimberly Latrice Jones 2021 Hand-woven archival ink-jet prints 57,5 x 57,5 cm
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in 2020 there were widespread protests under the banner of Black Lives Matter. While interviewing protesters in Atlanta, Kimberly Latrice Jones recorded a 7 minute video that later went viral. She uses the game of Monopoly as an analogy and also talks about the social contract.
I have added the transcribed text from her video onto a vintage American Monopoly board (the original Atlantic City version). The text is as follows:
So I’ve been seeing a lot of things, talking, people making commentary. Interestingly enough, the ones I’ve noticed that have been making the commentary are wealthy black people, making the commentary about we should not be rioting. We should not be looting. We should not be tearing up our own communities. And then there’s been an argument of the other side of, we should be hitting them in the pocket. We should be focusing on the blackout days where we don’t spend money. But I feel like we should do both. And I feel like I support both. And I’ll tell you why I support both. I support both because when you have a civil unrest like this, there are three type of people in the streets. There are the protesters, there are the rioters, and there are the looters. The protesters are there because they actually care about what is happening in the community. They want to raise their voices, and they are there strictly to protest. You have the rioters who are angry, who are anarchists, who really just want to f*** shit up, and that’s what they’re going to do regardless. And then you have the looters. And the looters almost exclusively are just there to do that, to loot. Now, people are like, “Well, what did you gain? Well, what did you get from looting?” I think that as long as we’re focusing on the what, we’re not focusing on the why. And that’s my issue with that. As long as we’re focusing on what they’re doing, we’re not focusing on why they’re doing. Some people are like, “Well, those aren’t people who are legitimately angry about what’s happening. Those are people who just want to get stuff.” Okay. Well then, let’s go with that. Let’s say that’s what it is. Let’s ask ourselves why, in this country in 2020, the financial gap between poor blacks and the rest of the world is at such a distance that people feel like 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, that they are so hopeless that getting that necklace, getting that TV, getting that change, getting that bed, getting that phone, whatever it is that they’re going to get, is that in that moment, when the riots happen and if they present an opportunity of looting, that’s their only opportunity to get it. We need to be questioning that why. Why are people that poor? Why are people that broke? Why are people that food insecure, that clothing insecure, that they feel like their only shot, that they are shooting their shot by walking through a broken glass window to get what they need? And then people want to talk about, “Well, it’s plenty of people who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and got it on their own. Why can’t they do that?” Let me explain to you something about economics in America. And I’m so glad that as a child I got an opportunity to spend time at PUSH, where they taught me this, is that we must never forget that economics was the reason that black people were brought to this country. We came to do the agricultural work in the South and the textile work in the North. Do you understand that? That’s what we came to do. We came to do the agricultural work in the South and the textile work in the North. 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, I didn’t allow for you to have anything, and then we played another 50 rounds of Monopoly and everything that you gained and you earned while you were playing that round of Monopoly was taken from you, that was Tulsa. That was Rosewood. Those are places where we built black economic wealth, where we were self-sufficient, where we owned our stores, where we owned our property, and they burned them to the ground. So that’s 450 years. 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 the behalf of the person that you’re playing against. You have to play and make money and earn wealth for them, and then you have to turn it over to them. So then for 50 years you finally get a little bit and you’re allowed to play. And every time that they don’t like the way that you’re playing, or that you’re catching up, or that you’re doing something to be self-sufficient, they burn your game. They burn your cards. They burn your Monopoly money. And then finally at the release and the onset of that, they allow you to play, and they say, “Okay, now you catch up.” Now, at this point, the only way you’re going to catch up in the game is if the person shares the wealth, correct? But what if every time you shared the wealth, then there’s psychological warfare against you to say, “Oh, you’re an equal opportunity hire.” So if I played 400 rounds of monopoly with you and I had to play and give you every dime that I made, and then for 50 years, every time that I played, if you didn’t like what I did, you got to burn it like they did in Tulsa and like they did in Rosewood, how can you win? How can you win? You can’t win. The game is fixed. So when they say, “Why do you burn down the community? Why do you burn down your own neighborhood?” It’s not ours. We don’t own anything. We don’t own anything. Trevor Noah said it so beautifully last night. There’s a social contract that we all have, that if you steal, or if I steal, then the person who is the authority comes in and they fix the situation. But the person who fixes the situation is killing us. So the social contract is broken. And if the social contract is broken, why the f*** do I give a shit about burning the f***ing Football Hall of Fame, about burning a f***ing Target? You broke the contract when you killed us in the streets and didn’t give a f***. You broke the contract when for 400 years, we played your game and built your wealth. You broke the contract when we built our wealth again on our own by our bootstraps in Tulsa and you dropped bombs on us, when we built it in Rosewood and you came in and you slaughtered us. You broke the contract. So f*** your Target. F*** your Hall of Fame. Far as I’m concerned, they could burn this bitch to the ground, and it still wouldn’t be enough. And they are lucky that what black people are looking for is equality and not revenge.