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Afro-Centric Trivia Game Brings #BlackJoy to Black People

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.


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