“All I need is a partner to play Spades with the cards up, all trust,” ~Jay-Z, Excuse Me Miss …
Dear Black People Who Can’t Play Spades:
cc: Black People Who Can’t Play Dominoes
Soledad O’Brien will host CNN’s Black In America 2 on Wednesday night. She will again explore the depths of blackness that far too few know or care to understand. She will compel some, make others cry and expose the tomfoolery that is the police officer who arrested Skip Gates “post-racial America.”
Yet, there’s one place I’m certain she won’t go, one stereotype I’m sure she’ll leave untouched because it’s one most every black is proud to claim. It has nothing to do with fried chicken, watermelon or Kool-Aid, Martellus.
No, it’s our undying love for the card game Spades. Forget ABCs. Card suits are the first thing most black parents teach their toddlers once they’ve said “mama” and “dada.” But notice how I keep italicizing the word “most.” Yes, there are a few grown black folks who can’t play the game, and we frown upon your shenanigans.
You can claim to be educated and black all you want. But without going to the proper school of Spades, you will not graduate from the Black American University. See, a black person admitting that he/she doesn’t know how to play Spades is like a white person willfully saying that he/she doesn’t know who Elvis is. A rare find, huh?
It happens, but it always draws dumbfounded stares and gazes of astonishment. They’re often followed by the inevitable questions: “How is that possible?” and “What did you do during your childhood for fun?” To which you’re sure to say that you spent your time reading books, doing chores and being an all-around choir boy/girl.
I call [horse manure]. I did all of those things, too, and still found time to master the game most blacks hold dear to our hearts. I’d skip high school classes finish my classwork early just to play Spades in the school lunch room with friends. I even went so far as to learn how to play Bid Whist because I got sick of being left out at family functions.
(Side note: Don’t go to a Chicago house party and think that knowing how to play Spades will get you on the table. You must play Bid, or else you might be excused from said party.)
Growing up, I don’t remember anyone *not* knowing or learning how to play Spades. Thus, I’m left trying to understand how you never learned. It’s just a glorified version of I Declare War with real strategy.
I’ve thought it through the last few weeks, though, and surmised that what scares most of y’all is the idea of having a partner. The notion of working together doesn’t suit you well, huh? You were the kid who used to try to take over group projects in class or else you’d have no input.
Save trash talking, working with a partner is the best part of the game. You become soulmates of sorts with your partner. You know what it means when they play specific cards or look at you a certain way across the table or say a specific word to clue you in to what you need to do?
You get that? Spades connects souls like song did on the slaveships that left Africa. This game is deep, and the more life you live without knowing how to play, the less life you’ve actually lived. In fact, you’re almost reneging on your blackness. One minimal strike — it could be as simple as nodding your head to Swag Surfin’ — and you might have the Black Card creditors blowing up your cell phone.
So do us a huge favor: Claim your heritage. Go to Yahoo! Games or Pogo.com, read the rules and learn to play. I’d teach you, but I have no patience when it comes to stuff like this. I’d be cursing your name every time you tried to lead out with a jack for no good reason. I know you don’t know what I’m talking about, but hopefully you will soon, grasshopper.
Wax on, wax off, Daniel son.
*Side-eyeing you like you left me with the yellow Starbursts*,
Damon & The Rest of Spades-Playing Black America
P.S. If Soledad can’t play Spades, she’ll lose all credibility for producing Black In America 2, and should resign before the show airs.
P.P.S. To the non-blacks who come across this, take heed. Knowing how to play Spades is the first “do” in Keeping Black Friends.