Rules for Playing the Race Card

Steve Cuno

Not long ago, a champion of humanity set me straight. Someone in our monochromatic, melanin-deficient lunch gathering had mentioned race, and before I could think better of it I had naively blurted something about racism not being a good thing. The above-referenced champion politely pointed out my error. The real problem, he explained, is that They play the Race card. (I didn’t add the italics and capital T. They were as audible as the rattling coming from the pale heads around our table nodding in enthusiastic agreement.)

You can imagine my chagrin upon realizing that, my whole life, I’d mistaken a parlor game for something serious. I wondered how many points I had lost through incorrect play, how many opportunities to advance I’d missed through ignorance. Well, never again. I resolved to learn the rules so that I could compete with the best of Them.

Tracking down the rules proved a challenge. Hoyle’s makes no mention of the game. Google is rife with complaints about misplay but devoid of rules as to correct play. Undaunted, I was able to infer a good many of the rules by watching the pros go at it. Here, for the benefit of fellow naïfs, are the fruits of my research.

There are two teams, Alikes and Differents, and the selection process couldn’t be simpler or fairer. You’re an Alike if other Alikes think you look like them. You’re a Different if they don’t. Differents who would prefer to play on Team Alike should have thought about that before showing up looking different.

The object of the game depends on whether you think the game is fair or rigged. Alikes, who view the game as fair, play with the object of maintaining the status quo. Differents, who think the game is rigged—against them, of course—play with the object of leveling things out. This often results in silly misunderstandings where Alikes accuse Differents of trying to gain an unfair advantage and Differents accuse Alikes of trying to maintain one.

There are seven kinds of cards, all of which are distributed at the outset of the game. The Race card is the best known, and because it’s the most powerful, two strict rules govern its use. The first is that only Differents are allowed to play it. The second is that there is only one instance in which its use is valid: Never. This protects Alikes from spurious charges of racism, which, as any Alike can tell you, most charges of racism are. It also helps neutralize inconvenient statistics about Differents’ abysmal odds with respect to arrests, sentencing, violence, health, longevity, hiring, pay, education, and housing, which Differents bring upon themselves or which they would bring upon themselves if the statistics weren’t all made up, which, I’m told, they are.

Trouble is, as every Alike knows, Differents have innate disregard for rules, so they merrily plunk down Race cards willy-nilly anyway. That’s what the other six cards, dealt only to Alikes, are for.

Alikes would be lost without the Complaining about the Race Card card. It nullifies any use of the Race card. Caution: If you play a Complaining about the Race Card card within earshot of a Different, you may spend an uncomfortable few minutes in a penalty box wearing a Caught Looking like a Racist Even Though You Swear You’re Not hat (sold separately). If someone tweets a video of you playing a Complaining about the Race Card card, you may forfeit a turn. The only way to escape either penalty is to produce an I Can’t Be a Racist Because One of My Friends Is a Different card.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Alikes start out a number of spaces ahead and move more spaces per turn. This myth is readily dispatched by the There’s No Such Thing as Privilege card. “Alikes have earned the head start and extra spaces, which don’t exist,” explains the small type on the back of the card, “If Differents put as much effort into the game as they put into whining, they would catch up in no time.” Admittedly, the rules forbid catching up, but that’s what keeps the game fair and exciting.

In the event of a dispute, Alikes can pull out a We Make the Rules card. That usually settles the matter, but, when necessary, it is unbeatable when paired with a Because That’s the Way It Has Always Been card.

I saved the two most important rules for last. The first is Only Alikes liken racism to a game. The second is There’s no rule that says anyone has to play. The latter is not as easy as it sounds. Not playing requires a strong sense of fairness backed by commitment, intelligence, and vigilance. Go for it if you think you’re up to the challenge, but don’t be surprised if someone stops you cold with a Don’t Be Such a Libtard card.

Steve Cuno

A veteran marketing writer, Steve Cuno has authored three books and written articles for Skeptical Inquirer, BookBusiness, Deliver, and other periodicals. In his spare time, Steve enjoys playing his piano and forcing people to look at photos of his grandchildren.