Ever Play Monopoly? Understanding Inequity and GOing the Distance to Fix it

Imagine playing a game of Monopoly with your friends. If you’ve ever played the game, whether it’s the Star Wars edition, Buck-opoly (The OSU edition) or one of the 1,144 versions of it, you know that it takes a long time to finish. You will also be aware that after about 45 minutes or so, most of the properties have been gobbled up and you are spending a lot of time trying to make money while paying an extraordinary amount of rent on properties that you will never be able to own unless you get very lucky. In fact, once a game has started, it’s CRAZY to think that you will be able to join and have any chance of being able to own property, let alone place a house.

Culturally, what has happened is that only within the past 30 years have people of color been able to sit down at the monopoly game. Think about it. We’ve been buying up properties, able to get low-interest mortgages, even the ability to OWN more than one house, whether it’s because we’re paid generous salaries, or at the misfortune of another losing their home and we are able to purchase, renovate, and rent out that home for profit. If you’re NEW to “the game” you are at a disadvantage. The only homes available are in economically disadvantaged areas or even in neighborhoods with steep HOA’s and requirements that are going to be more difficult for a family that is only 1 generation removed from being PROHIBITED from having a home in those neighborhoods, schools, and areas. In fact, there are famous black preachers that have indicated that they weren’t even able to attend seminary in the 80’s due to the poor racial outlook in our communities and churches. Dear friends of ours just recently shared that only 12 short years ago, a black family purchasing a home in Newark ended up with racial hatred spray painted on their new home. We may not like to face it, but it’s out there and we must as the body of Christ, face these situations head on and allow God to change us personally as we seek what we can do going forward to be a part of changing these inequalities.

To highlight these inequalities, a professor at a University had black students come to class and start a monopoly game, an hour later he invited the white students to then join the game. “This,” he explained, “is what it feels like to experience the inequality that is an inherent part of our systems.” Now imagine being added to a game of monopoly and not being told all the rules, or how to play, or even how the cards can help you to get ahead.

If you’ve never owned a home, or for generations, have only rented home it might be a couple of generations until you are able to break free from the bondages of those generational inequities.

This blew my mind. It changed my ideas of how I thought about just “being able to...” or “why not just...” Those options have not always been available, and you can make your argument about banks not seeing color, but the data shows otherwise .

Until we are convinced of the problems, we will deny the reality of practical solutions.

Until we are convinced of the problems, we will deny the reality of practical solutions. Since 2014 and the terrible loss of Michael Brown we have been having a discussion that has led to very little, if no change in our systems, communities, and churches.

There is also personal responsibility. There are those in the church that are moved to frustration at the lack of involvement or the lack of movement towards these inequities. To that I would say, that is precisely why the church is made up of many individuals whose duties and burdens should bring them forward to not only address these issues, but become the practical hands and feet of those who would bring about the much needed solutions. I had a pastor whose response was most appropriate during these times. When approached by such issues, his response was always, the reason that it is such a heavy burden on your heart is because the Holy Spirit is calling you to DO something about it. While we are to be the biggest cheerleaders and can even provide platforms during these moments, it is the role of each person, to help carry the burdens of our communities.

For instance, we can’t just say “we should do something about abortion” or that “abortion is murder” without being willing to also step towards, or alongside a young mother who feels she has no other options. We must be willing to adopt or help provide prenatal care to moms in these dire straights. Being a part of the solution is a game-changer, but it will cost more than our indignance, it will cost us the same time, money, and energy, Jesus teaches us through the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Family Discussion Questions

1. Read Luke 10:25-37 or check out this video if you have children. Video:

2. What makes the story about the Good Samaritan so special to YOU? What stands out to you most?

3. According to the story Jesus told about loving others who are not like us, what might it cost us?

4. In what ways can WE walk besides those who might be “left on the side of the road?” How can WE as a family show God’s love in REAL and PRACTICAL ways?

5. How does the parable of the Good Samaritan make you think about the Monopoly Game Illustration?

Some excellent resources suggested by Christianity Today:

“Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian” by John Piper

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tigsby

"Dream With Me” Dr. John M. Perkins

“One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love” by Dr. John M. Perkins

Created By
Mark Elliott


Created with images by National Cancer Institute - "Family Playing Board Game. An African-American family (adult male and female and two male children) sit around a coffee table playing a board game. Photographer Bill Branson " • Travel LocalLV - "untitled image" • dylan nolte - "A family of three. Brother, sister and mother, stroll on the beach in Greece at sunrise. When the kids can't sleep on holiday, take them for a walk on the beach. If you can wake up it makes great photos for the golden hour." • Jan Kahánek - "tabel day"