Monopoly is a game of opportunity, a classic board game of the American dream. Each player is given the opportunity to move around the board, having rolled two die and is given a certain amount of money to begin their capitalism adventure.
Each player is given the “equal opportunity” to battle against chance and other players in owning the whole board of properties. It is a mixture of strategy, math, and chance.
Now, imagine you are given only one die, are only paid one hundred dollars (as opposed to 200 dollars) when you pass “GO,” and are given only a fifth of the money of the other players. Note, though, you still have the opportunity to buy each piece of property, and you still have an equal chance of going to jail.
You did not cause yourself to start with this money; it is simply what you were dealt when you entered the game. It is not what you did; it is what you were given.
Your competitors did not cause themselves to start with five times more, two die, and two hundred dollars from “GO” but providence/chance/fate did. It is not what they did; it is what they were given.
I was born and raised in the suburbs, blessed with a financially stable family, a moral family, and an involved set of Christian parents. My family enrolled me in private school, private college, and is even helping me off and on now, having entered the “adult” world.
Most all of the success I have had has been a result of my circumstances. I had time to spare when I lost a job or had to move cities because I could count on my family to help me get started.
Bryan did not. Bryan grew up in west Jackson, known as the “projects” of Jackson, for lack of a better term. His dad is an alcoholic who left the home at the age of three. His mother has worked until 11:30 at night since he was three, and she still does.
His brother has raised him. They live off food stamps. Since his mother worked all the time, no one has taught Bryan how to work hard or any trade, and they are short of money for most any and every little thing.
Is the whole Monopoly board before him? Can I still fail due to lack of working hard? Yes. Can Bryan succeed if he tries extremely hard to press into work and search every cranny of society for opportunity? Yes.
My circumstances have affected my access to opportunity, just as Bryan’s has. And they are not equal. He cannot equally access college like I did. He cannot equally access the network of jobs my dad has introduced me into.
If he was not held accountable by parents to learn at school or was malnourished as a child, his opportunity to grow in knowledge, which society now requires, his access to success and opportunity is stunted.
Equal access, equal opportunity, is not equal. Many live and die by the idea that all have an equal opportunity in the “land of the free”. From my experience of being a pastor in Chicago and Jackson and from living and working around what society calls the “under-privileged,” I have come to decide equal opportunity is not a reality today in America, or really no where.
In America, all are able to work hard, but not all are able to gain success or opportunity, equally as another person.
– Michael McGee, Contributing Writer