Most people are familiar with “Cards Against Humanity,” the popular card game most often played at parties with a drunken group of friends. Players attempt to answer funny questions and whoever’s answer is the funniest is the winner. Well, now there is a new trivia game based solely on the Black experience. “Black Card Revoked” is a fun and nostalgic test in Black popular culture where the loser gets their “Black card revoked.” But it is the story behind the game’s premise that illustrates the need for fun games that reflect Black identity and bring Black people together.
The Ohio-based game company Cards for All People was co-founded by successful sports and entertainment executive Latesha Williams and health IT software engineer Jay Bobo in July of 2015. During a period when the Rachel Dolezal controversy called into question what it meant to be Black, the explosion of social media activity on Black Twitter and other sites provided fertile ground for Williams and Bobo to develop their concept.
“We had been looking for a market and industry to develop a product while at the same time keeping an eye on the amazingness of Twitter, especially Black Twitter,” said Latesha Williams, co-founder of Cards for All People.
“Around the time that the Rachel Dolezal controversy was in the news, it dawned on us that Black folks had been playing the same family game forever — spades. At the time, we didn’t even have a name for the game, but we saw the opportunity to create something new and exciting for the Black community.”
It was the shared cultural experiences of Black people found particularly on Black Twitter that inspired Williams and Bobo to create a card game that would be a tribute to Black culture. All kinds of funny and interesting details about Black life, from what Black people put on their grits, to who was the mother on the TV show “Sister, Sister” could be made into fun trivia questions that not only spread #BlackJoy but Black affirmation.
“Black Twitter was a huge inspiration for Black Card Revoked because it was where we saw the shared experiences among African-Americans exemplified” Williams said.
“Moments like #cookoutnewsnetwork, #celebritiesonlyblackpeopleknow and #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies brought a light to not only Black experiences but the commonalities that every cultural group has. Black Card Revoked is the culmination of the Black Twitter illumination.”
Black Card Revoked launched a month later. The game was pushed through social media and media outlets, introduced to friends and family, and featured at trivia nights around New York City. By December, the company was netting a profit and generating buzz within the Black community. By 2016, the company was packaging 5,000 units a month and on its way towards making $1 million in sales.
“Last year, we generated well over seven figures in revenue” said Jay Bobo, the other co-founder of the company.
“Our customer base is 80% women” Williams said. “We have had everyone from … Tami Roman, K. Michelle, the cast of ’black-ish and ’The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ play our games.”
The company’s emotional connection to its audience is what sets it apart from other card games in an industry where Black people are traditionally underrepresented. During an age of growing racial tensions, Black communities have been asking for spaces of joy, reflection and celebration.
“It’s a missed opportunity for the Mattels, Hasbros and Cards Against Humanity types because they don’t often emotionally connect with consumers on a cultural level” Bobo said. “We wanted to turn the industry norms on their head and infuse them with the things that Black people really find important.”
But Cards for All People doesn’t just focus on mainstream Black America. What started out as a simple trivia game for Black people has branched out into 11 different card game versions, including the original Black Card Revoked, Gay Card Revoked, Girls Night Out edition, Jollof and Fufu edition, and Black Card Revoked Petty edition. All of the games lift up and celebrate the most marginalized in the Black community, including women and the LGBT community while also being inclusive of the African diaspora.
“Traditional companies don’t generally make products that cater to and celebrate women, [nonwhite people] and the LGBT community,” Bobo said.
“We thought it was time to change that.”
Rather than wait for a customer to order a game pack, Cards for All People is innovating the card game industry by bringing the game to the customer. The Black Card Revoked live events are actual live trivia game shows hosted by Cards for All People in cities across the country. Think of “Family Feud” or “Jeopardy” but with Black folk talking about Black thangs. The live events have already popped up in places like Columbus, Ohio, New York City and Washington, D.C.
In the online world, Cards for All People has used its inspiration from Black Twitter to build a large social media following and online trivia game platform. On the Cards for All People website, users can even play online Black Card Revoked games to win cash prizes. The company then donates a percentage of online gaming fees to Black organization such as Color for Change, Black Girls Code and GiveBackHack. While giving back to the Black community, Cards for All People also actively draws on the creativity of an unexpected sector of the Black labor force to help the company develop its vision and build its brand.
“With regards to workforce and community development, we hire local students and especially grandmothers to join our fulfillment team to help meet the demand of our consumers,” Bobo said. “Grandmothers are mature and hard-working. These elders are the backbone of the community. Supporting them supports entire families.”
Throughout the company’s startling success, both Williams and Bobo have managed to remain true to the culture and to their devoted fanbase.
“Black Card Revoked has grown a following by staying authentic to our audience and what resonates with them; nostalgia, family, comedy, shared experiences” Williams said.
To find out more visit Cardsforallpeople.com