March 28, 2013

By Chris B. Bennett

Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium

 

Ghettopoly – a racially insensitive game modeled after the popular monopoly board game – is stirring up controversy once again. The game, which uses stereotypes often related to African Americans as the butt of its humor, was removed from the shelves from Urban Outfitters in 2003 after a nationwide protest by the NAACP that ultimately led to the game being barred from sale in the United States after Hasbro, makers of the game monopoly, sued the inventor of the game, David Chang, for copyright infringement.According to Kathy Carpano, a spokesperson for Hasbro, “the company was successful in obtaining a default judgment against Mr. Chang and in June of 2006, the Court issued a permanent injunction against the Ghettopoly game and Hasbro was awarded both damages and costs.”

However, despite the permanent injunction, the game, which features a pimp, a hoe, a 40-ounce bottle, a machine gun (oozie), a marijuana leaf, a basketball and a piece of crack as game pieces, is once again available for sale — most notably through Seattle-based, online retail giant Amazon at a premium price of $114.99.

The game’s official website automatically re-directs visitors to the page where the product is sold on Amazon’s website.

According to a domain registration search, the domain is registered under Ghetto Poly Inc. The domain registration was last updated in August 2012, and lists Chang as both the administrative and technical contact.

In a 2003 interview with The Seattle Medium, Chang, who emigrated at age eight from Taiwan with his family, said he views the game as humorous and not degrading.

 “Ghettopoly is controversial because its both fun and real life,” Chang told The Medium. “The graphics on the board depict every race in the country and both genders. It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and how we each utilize the various stereotypes, then we’ll continue to live in blame and bitterness.”

According to a press release promoting the game, Chang did his market research by watching MTV and studying the lyrics of rap and hip-hop music, and video games provided him insight into the culture of the ghetto allowing him to come up with the names of the properties of the game in just a few hours.

Chang doesn’t feel that the game depicts any single group, rather that it pokes fun at everything associated with the ghetto.

 “The playing of the game is not to offend people, that’s not my intention,” stated Chang. “It’s a satire. If they can’t see that there is nothing I can do about that. I’m not here to convince them otherwise.”

However, many African American leaders found the game to be offensive, as it allows players to buy crack houses and projects instead of houses and hotels. Property names include: Ray Ray’s Chicken and Ribs, Harlem, Busta Rap Recording, Malcolm X Ave., Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Hernando’s Chop Shop. In addition, instead of having railroads like the original monopoly game, players can purchase liquor stores. One of the Ghetto Stash cards (equivalent to Monopoly’s Community Chest cards) reads: “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each player.”

Carl Mack, former president of the Seattle/King County NAACP, did not find the game funny or amusing.

 “Everything about the game is degrading,” said Mack during an interview with The Medium in 2003. “It promotes every insensitive and racial stereotype that America has been in the forefront of creating with Black folks.”

Mack and a former Seattle/King County NAACP member, Eric Dawson, were the catalyst of the 2003 nationwide protest of the game when they went into the Downtown Seattle Urban Outfitters store and demanded that they game be taken off the shelf.

The recent discovery that the game is once again available for sale has many in the African American community questioning the availability of the game through a retailer like Amazon.

The Medium contacted Amazon regarding the sale of the game on their website. According to Amazon’s website, ‘listings for items that Amazon deems offensive are prohibited on Amazon.com. Amazon reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings on its site, and remove any listing at any time.’ Examples of prohibited listings include, ‘Products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.’

When asked by The Medium, if this game [Ghettopoly] would fall under this category? And If so, why is it allowed to be sold on amazon.com. Amazon responded by saying, “Amazon will not be releasing comment.”

 “All that this is, is another example of a company that is willing to make money off of a product regardless of the racial indignity or racial insensitivity of that product,” said Mack of Amazon’s response. “Amazon is just as guilty as he is [David Chang]. If they know about it and don’t do a thing about it then they are just as racially insensitive as this guy, David Chang, is.”

 “Here is their policy about racially insensitive material,” continued Mack. “Given their policy, they still don’t appear to have a problem with selling this [game]. In our minds they don’t value diversity, and they certainly don’t value the dignity of Black folks as clients.”

As of press time, six days after being contacted, the game is still available through Amazon’s website.

 “It appears to me that they [Amazon] will not do the right thing until they are forced to do the right thing, and that is something that we should always remember,” said Mack.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

 

ARIES

You may find that discussions at home have taken a sudden, spiritual orientation. Give everyone room to express their personal beliefs without trying to preach your point of view.  Your open-mindedness helps you with deep learning this week. Soul Affirmation: The winner is me. I smile for the cameras.

 

TAURUS

Feeling bold, are we? Well, go with the flow of your feelings! No other sign can call on inner courage as easily as you. Whether at home, at work, or out on the town, let your personal statements be stylish and bold! Soul Affirmation: This week is the week the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.

 

GEMINI

Tempers may flare around you this week but it’s nothing personal, so keep your mind on your own work and let others act up. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you get some exercise this week! Soul Affirmation: I change the way I look at business this week.

 

CANCER

Restless feelings may arise over health matters, or perhaps education or the lack of it. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable with yourself. If it involves seeing a dentist or taking a class, what’s stopping you? Self-improvement can be a very enjoyable game! Soul Affirmation: Hope is future’s way of shining on me this week.

 

LEO

Set a limit on what you can do for others this week. You’ll enjoy your feelings more if you are straightforward about refusing a less than appetizing assignment. Trust your feelings and say “No, I won’t.” Clear boundaries help you define yourself. Soul Affirmation: I get joy from giving good things.

 

VIRGO

Let happiness flow inside and outside of you this week. Refuse to be drawn into any pseudo-crisis and you’ll stay happy. Stay quietly on task and you’ll have accomplished much by the end of this busy week. Soul Affirmation: I flavor my life with good wishes towards everyone this week.

 

LIBRA

A dream in which you already are what you hope to be will offer much insight into your current situation. Take some practical steps to keep the focus on this wonderful vision. You know you can be what you see! Soul Affirmation: I am a giver of good words this week.

 

SCORPIO

Do you realize that you are the only one who can tell you what to think and how to feel? Let go of any behaviors that are keeping you from achieving the things you want to achieve. Be creative and positive this week. Soul Affirmation: I focus on long-range financial security this week.

 

SAGITTARIUS

You can be very efficient this week if you set your will to the task. New ideas will occur to you as you are working steadily, so keep pencil and paper nearby to jot down your latest brilliance! Soul Affirmation: I give love and love gives to me.

 

CAPRICORN

Avoid getting involved in any office politics or family feuds this week. The week’s energy is excitable, but not necessarily exciting. Do your own thing and be proud of what you do. Let others do their own thing, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Soul Affirmation: Money opens doors for friendship to enter.

 

AQUARIUS

A message this week may necessitate travel on your part, and you may feel obligated to do something you don’t want to. Let the energy flow past you and do what you think is best. Who you are is who you are—be glad about it! Soul Affirmation: I fill my mind with visions of love this week.

 

PISCES

You wake up feeling peaceful and wise. Discussions with a close friend may reveal the source of your inner freedom in a very tangible way. So talk about it. You’ve got everything good to gain. Soul Affirmation: I let my mind go slack and tighten up my body.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Video Music Awards are taking a road trip to Brooklyn.

MTV's showcase awards show is traditionally held in Los Angeles or Manhattan.

This year the show will be held Aug. 25 at the new Barclays Center, home of the New York Nets and the recent Rolling Stones and 12-12-12 concerts.

MTV will celebrate 30 years of the VMAs this year. From Kanye West and Taylor Swift to the Madonna-Britney Spears-Christina Aguilera kiss, the show has become known more for its pop culture moments than the winners of its signature moonman trophies.

The VMAs were last held in New York in 2009 and have been in LA since.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) - ESPN is staying in the family in giving its Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Robin Roberts at its annual ESPY awards this summer.

The "Good Morning America" anchor is being saluted for how she kept viewers involved in her treatments for two serious illnesses. She had breast cancer in 2007 and last year had to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder. Roberts returned to "Good Morning America" last month.

Roberts came to sister company ABC from ESPN, where she was the network's first black female sportscaster.

Most past awards recipients have sports connections, like former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt last year. But the ESPYs also have honored Nelson Mandela and the four men who tried to stop one of the Sept. 11 hijackings.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

By Bobbi Booker

Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune

 

New York Times bestselling author and beloved actress Victoria Rowell delivers another hilarious and shocking send-up of the soap opera world, featuring Calysta Jeffries, the unstoppable diva of daytime drama in “The Young and the Ruthless: Back in the Bubbles” (Atria Books, $15).

As we learned from Rowell’s prior hit “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva,” no one gets in the way of leading lady Calysta Jeffries. Now, after a brief stint in drug rehab, Calysta is back on the set and ready for action as she resumes her role as the star of “The Rich and the Ruthless.” But not everyone in the cast and crew is happy to have the diva back. As soon as she wraps her first return episode, some of her fellow colleagues and cast members are conspiring, once again, to sabotage her career. She’s already survived amnesia, an alien abduction, and death three times over — but all that and a real-life alcohol abuse problem couldn’t keep Calysta down. So her enemies come up with the nastiest plan ever devised. They invite Calysta’s beautiful daughter Ivy to audition for “The Rich and the Ruthless” and offer her a role alongside her very competitive mother, turning Calysta’s whole world upside down.

Rowell’s latest soap opera drama mirrors her own life as one of the most popular figures on America’s premier daytime drama, “The Young & The Restless” (Y&R), which is presently celebrating its 40th Anni­versary. As the feisty “Drucilla Winters,” Rowell was one of the most popular African-American figures in daytime drama and was nominated for three Day Time Emmy Awards and won 11 NAACP Image Awards — yet when she asked for an equal opportunity to try her hand as a scriptwriter, her character was killed off as a leading character.

Currently, Rowell has over 71,000 Twitter follows, and many are fans howling for Y&R to reprise her role. She advises otherwise. “Not only African-Americans, we’ve seen all ethnicities and all walks of life commenting and asking on NPR News, The Washington Post, the National Urban League and the NAACP, why in 40 years of the ‘Young and the Restless’ and there is not one African American executive anywhere, ever? Over 50 percent of the audience are African-American/Black women in the south, with the number one market in Louisiana. Now you know, that we must not be blinded by the smoke and mirrors or blinded by the on-camera talent only. Black consumers spend over $1 trillion a year. Black women are generational buyers, and the power of the purse campaign is in effect right now until we see one Black executive.”

Raised in foster care, Rowell’s credits her success to the foster families that instilled in her the confidence and drive to succeed. Passionately involved in many charities, Rowell founded The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan, a scholarship fund helping foster children thrive through fine arts classes, sports camps, and cultural enrichment.

For more information, visit Twitter.com to follow @victoriarowell.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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