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A breakdown of the economic and social injustices facing Black people and other marginalized citizens inspired by political activist Kimberly Jones' viral video, “How Can We Win.”
“So if I played four hundred rounds of Monopoly with you and I had to play and give you every dime that I made, and then for fifty 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?"
When Kimberly Jones declared these words amid the protests spurred by the murder of George Floyd, she gave a history lesson that in just over six minutes captured the economic struggles of Black people in America. Within days the video had been viewed by millions of people around the world, riveted by Jones’s damning—and stunningly succinct—analysis of the enduring disparities Black Americans face.
In How We Can Win, Jones delves into the impacts of systemic racism and reveals how her formative years in Chicago gave birth to a lifelong devotion to justice. Here, in a vital expansion of her declaration, she calls for Reconstruction 2.0, a multilayered plan to reclaim economic and social restitutions—those restitutions promised with emancipation but blocked, again and again, for more than 150 years. And, most of all, Jones delivers strategies for how we can effect change as citizens and allies while nurturing ourselves—the most valuable asset we have—in the fight against a system that is still rigged.
Activist and YA novelist Jones (I'm Not Dying with You Tonight) expands in this searing look at racial inequality on a 2020 viral video in which she compared the impact of slavery and white supremacy on Black Americans' socioeconomic status to a fixed Monopoly game. Jones recalls growing up on the South Side of Chicago during the height of the drug trade in the 1980s, hitting "rock bottom" as a single mother who couldn't afford to pay both the electric and the gas bills, and how protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray inspired her first book. Turning to her Monopoly analogy, Jones explains how redlining prevented Black people from owning real estate and building generational wealth; discusses the Tulsa massacre and other historical instances when whites destroyed Black wealth; notes that many prominent U.S. companies, including Brooks Brothers, "began and made their name during slavery"; and cites a study claiming that Black people own just 2.6 percent of the wealth in America. It's a succinct and persuasive argument, buttressed by Jones's detailed outline for "Reconstruction 2.0," which includes a "truth and reconciliation" commission and a federal agency modeled after the 19th-century Freedmen's Bureau. The result is an impassioned and actionable call for leveling the playing field in America.