Sunday, November 11, 2018

Real Life Monopoly: A Discussion On Equity
Hello Friends,

As always, I want to thank you for taking the time to read the Chronicles of Griffin. On Tuesday, October 9th I held and #OnTheTableMKE discussion at Prairie Elementary School in partnership with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. The attendees from left to right included: Joe'Mar Hooper (CommonBond Communities Market Leader), Tahereh DeLeon (Elementary School Principal in Waukesha), Jen Townsend (Director of the SEE-KS Program), Aaron Perry (Alderman for the 12th Aldermanic District in Waukesha, and has two scholars that attend Prairie Elementary), and Naryan Leazer (Edward Jones Financial Advisor, My Former Marquette University Advisor, and Mentor). This blog is special to me as two of the participants were willing to allow me to share their experiences from the #OnTheTableMKE discussion. I hope you enjoy. 
                                                   Aaron Perry's Reflection

I recently had the honor to be invited to a roundtable to discuss equity with other parents, friends, and leaders. We all knew the topic and after introducing ourselves to each other, we did what kids do. We played a board game. It was fitting because we were meeting in an elementary school classroom and we played monopoly which of course deals with equity. Or sometimes not. 

The 6 of us made it to just 3 turns total and the realization was evident. Our meeting had nothing to do with playing a game. It was about having a discussion. An important one. A vital one. Mr. Griffin set the table (literally) for us to talk. Get to know each other and break down any walls we might have walked in with. We didn’t only discuss equity, we talked about equality, opportunity and action. What have we done to make our communities better for everyone? And what can we still do by communicating and working together? 

I was particularly happy to take a tour of the school with Mr. Griffin with the group. We very well could have met at a restaurant or coffee shop. Instead we were front and center viewing education, inclusion and educator collaboration. And they got to see us! I’m not a “look at me” kind of person but I am an advocate for exposing the good and showing a good example. Scholars need to see adults working together. Having thoughtful discussions and sharing ideas. 
Lastly, I won the monopoly game by the way. But only because of a roll of the dice. We all won by making the time to meet at Prairie Elementary School and due to Mr. Griffin’s leadership. But that “roll of the dice” is about more than just a board game. It represents equity. We all understand some will inherit a better roll of the dice than others. With that recognition we need to take action to help our neighbor. Take their hand and help them, befriend them and teach out kids we should always treat others as we would like to be treated. God has called on us to do so, regardless of your faith. 

Aaron Perry

Jen Townsend's Experience

There’s something that happens when a person decides to truly be seen...other who want to notice will see you for who you are rather than see you based on their own perception bias. What do I mean by perception bias? I mean your social status persona, race, gender, body type, wardrobe, transportation, position title … the list goes on and on and on; it causes a judgement about someone else and at times may be an unconscious act that changes your actions towards and about someone else based on these factors. I often ask myself “how will I be seen”, “do I want to be seen” and will I emit the transparency of myself to be vulnerable, to be noticed?

I had the opportunity to play a game of Monopoly with four other adults who had one common denominator, a gentleman who invited us all to the table. He presented a traditional game only it was anything but traditional; he had changed the rules. We were not all equal at the start rather, we were given our ‘place’ in the game by a simple roll of the dice; a three could mean you start with two-hundred dollars and no property where a six could mean you start with two-thousand dollars and three properties. Fate, destiny or just plain chance, I’m not sure but it felt a lot like the society in which we live, where at times we are presented with an opportunity and yet we may not have enough resources to capitalize on it. We were playing Real World Monopoly.  

Why can’t someone capitalize on a opportunity? In the past I may have consider a response to this question that directly related to a person’s willingness to do something with it and now I  have reconsidered my response which will be twofold, is the person willing to do something AND does the person possess, at least the minimal amount, resources to carpe the diem (resources defined as a stock or supply of money, materials, people, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person in order to function effectively). I am confident that prior to playing this Real World Monopoly I would never have considered access to resources to be a barrier to a presented opportunity. Now, that I have this awareness I am not quite sure how to process my thoughts, so I will start with a reconsideration of my own perception bias.

Given Real World Monopoly’s predetermined start (based on a roll of the die) I realized we were no longer just playing a favorite childhood game rather we were playing with factors of reality, life; by creating societal injustices that cause prejudice between classes of people I came to a realization that I may have never seen before. It’s not about a person’s unwillingness to do better, to be better for oneself, rather it might just be about the opportunities that are limited by resources. If I truly want to do more than make a difference and to be the difference I must continue to move forward with open eyes to how and why opportunities have limits and consider how and what I can do to make a positive impact, to notice what is; within society, within others and most importantly within myself. I am eternally grateful to the gentleman who invited me to the table and will continue in my journey to learn, support and advocate for equity with access for all.

Regards Jen Townsend

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