Hi. My name is Panama Jackson. I went to an HBCU. I grew up watching Martin, A Different World, The Cosby Show (awwwwwwwwkward), Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and even spent precious moments of my life watching Homeboys from Outer Space. I've watched both Alex Haley's Roots and Queen and own at least two Tyler Perry movies on DVD. I drink red kool-aid (still). I actually think red is a flavor. I unironically use the word conversate because I like it more than converse. I have also orientated people. I own several pairs of Jordans. My favorite movie is Coming To America and I play spades like a motherfucking G. I've gotten into actual altercations because of both spades and tunk. I play tunk. I have a Black first name (though I didn't actually know this to be true until people started looking at me crazy when I said it wasn't) and I ride down your block knocking pictures off your wall.
I'm all about that bass…and that doesn't include Meghan Trainor. I'm an ass man. I say all this to say, I've got all of the trappings of being a lifetime Black Card holder. I do my part, ya know.
But I've got a confession. I just learned how to play dominoes. Like, two weeks ago. Like, now we're playing bones and I'm yelling domino and shit. (Also, nobody I know got killed in South Central LA, well, now South Los Angeles. It's been a good few weeks.)
I'm wondering how this affects my Black Card. Let's start at the beginning with this one.
[It should be noted that when I say dominoes, I mean the "fives" game of dominoes. Apparently there are dozens of ways to play.]
Nobody in my family plays dominoes. Or at least I've never seen anybody at my family reunions or gatherings play dominoes. And my family reunions are huge. And in Atlanta. We play cards and drink a lot. But dominoes never seemed to make the program. In college, nobody I was around played dominoes. We all played spades. People always said shit like, "do y'all play bid whist?" But in all of my 35 years of life, I've only heard of this mythical game of bid whist. I've never actually seen a human play it. Kind of like Bridge. I've seen the stuff in newspapers, but I've never actually seen anybody play this game. And considering the number of Black people that I know who ask about bid whist while never actually having seen any of these Black people play it, I'm going to go ahead and say it doesn't exist. Kind of like West Virginia that leprechaun in the tree in Alabama.
But I have seen people play dominoes. Mostly on television. And mostly in videos and movies featuring folks from the West Coast. There's always some prison swole fool fucking up a table behind dominoes which has to be the most inconvenient shit ever. It's entirely possible that this phenomenon is why those metal folding tables were created. If you break one of those, it was ordained by a higher being. So I know folks played dominoes and I always attach it to the West Coast. For heaven's sake, there's even a West Coast rapper named Domino, who in my estimation, uttered the funniest line of all time in his song "Ghetto Jam" (a true classic) when he said, "rolling down the 'Shaw, guess what we saw…some bitchezzzzzzzzzz" at the 2:40ish mark. It's funnier when you hear it. I laugh every time.
Back to the lecture at hand. I never ever grew up playing or saw anybody in my vicinity playing dominoes. And my life is pretty colored. I grew up listening to Al Jarreau and LTD, for goodness' sake.
So I managed to skirt through life without ever owning or playing this game that I knew lots of Black folks played. Not only did I not ever tell folks I couldn't play, it never came up. At all. Which brings us to a few weeks ago.
Much like all great things, there are online versions of everything. I play online spades and Words With Friends with relative frequency. A friend of mine, in the middle of one of our games of WWF, mentioned how dominoes is her shit. So I was like, hey, I'll go get the dominoes app and we'll play. Remember, I have never played which means I had no clue how to play. I figured I know one vital thing: you match the numbers. A nigga knows how to match numbers. I've been doing that since, like, pre-school, fam.
Now the funny part about playing a game that you don't know how to play with somebody who does is that there's an odd side-effect of screwing with their mind. I tried to read directions but my eyes glazed over and I'm more of a learn on the go kind of fellow anyway. So while I knew how to match numbers, I had no idea how you got points. And every time I scored points I had no earthly idea how. I finally buckled down and read how that worked and was like, "oh shit, I can't believe I didn't realize this." Now I'm a beast. As long as you can count you can play. Yay for public education. But the funny part is that this convo occurred:
The Homey: I have a funny story to tell. So…remember how the other day you were like JUST understanding dominoes? Well I've been playing for years and peer pressure ain't shit because when I saw you playing doubles instead of wins I thought you musta been onto something. Then you text me that tidbit about just learning and I was sitting there like:
Me: LMAO. You thought I had some crazy strategy? LOL.
The Homey: Lol. Yes.
Me: Nope. I just had no clue what I was doing. Every time I got points I was trying to understand how.
The Homey: I hate you.
I now know how to play dominoes and am excited about it. I also had to watch a Youtube video to understand how you take score. I remember seeing niggas drawing X's and O's and what looked like tiny doll houses or something. But I got it now. I'm all in. Even bought some real ones in case anybody wants to play at mi casa. I'm now excited about dominoes and wonder what I was doing with my life not having played this hood staple in so many years of living in the hood. I feel like I missed something. But, its not nearly as common place as card games, specifically spades. Or at least it doesn't seem as common. I felt some type of way about my secret shame of not knowing how to play dominoes but I'm now wondering how many people do? Maybe everybody does. Yo no se.
Which brings me to the question: playing dominoes doesn't get you a Black card, but does not playing dominoes put your Black card in jeopardy? Is it a Black staple? Inquiring minds would like to know.