The viral Black Lives Matter ‘Monopoly speech’ is being turned into a powerful anti-racism book

Written by Amy Beecham

Kimberly Jones’ viral ‘Monopoly speech’ from 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests is being released in a powerful new book calling for systemic change to tackle racism. 

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, Black Lives Matter marches were held across the US and worldwide as protestors called for an end to racism and justice for Floyd’s death.

Following one protest, author and activist Kimberly Jones was cleaning up the streets when her powerful Monopoly analogy explaining the enduring disparities Black Americans face was filmed by a friend, shared and went viral:

“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, 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.

So that’s 450 years. So for 400 rounds of Monopoly, you don’t get to play at all…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.”

“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?”

The powerful speech made waves on the internet, being watched over two million times and shared by celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Lebron James, Trevor Noah and Madonna.

Now, in a new book titled How We Can Win, due to be released in 2022, Jones expands on her passionate declaration, calls for Reconstruction 2.0, a multilayered plan to reclaim economic and social restitutions for Black people that have been promised, but blocked, for more than 150 years. 

Kimberly Jones, activist and author of How We Can Win

Black Lives Matter protests in New York following the murder of George Floyd

“We need to be questioning that ‘why’,” she writes in the book’s introduction.“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?

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.”

Talking about the aftermath of the viral video, Jones explains that she expected to be “cancelled”.

“The people who tried to dismiss me as a loud, ghetto, angry Black woman did not see an award-winning filmmaker, community advocate, and successful YA author.

I never expected the outpouring of support I received from all over the world. It turned out that people understood what I was saying and felt it was what they also wanted to say but didn’t know how.”

How We Can Win by Kimberly Jones

After Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd and sentenced to 22 years and six months in jail, Jones told the crowds gathered to celebrate: “The people needed a win and they got it today, but this is the beginning of the work. The beginning of the work. Now the people, take your power back, and let’s do for self. We outside, but we outside to celebrate, to prepare, to shift. Win one of a million. 

This has to be win one of a million because we still need justice for Rayshard Brooks, we still need justice for Daunte Wright, we still need justice for Adam Toledo. We still need justice for Jamarion Robinson, for Jimmy Atkinson, for Vincent Truitt. I know some of them names y’all don’t even know. This is win one. Win one of a million.”

Looking to the future, Jones writes with inspiration and hope to “win”.

“When I’m working with all the powerful young people around me, I feel the same way. This generation has a belief in fairness that simply won’t be denied. I have faith that this is a moment when things will change because I see the fire of the young activists I work with, and I see that they will not be denied. The endurance and the quality of strategic thought I see in the movement space constantly dazzles me.”

How We Can Win by Kimberly Jones will bepublished by Text Publishing on 18 January 2022, £7.99

Images: Getty

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