Written by: Celestial Holmes
There is no right of passage or sacred, hallowed ground that must be trod in order to gain your Black card. If you are Black, you are born with it. However, friends and family can snatch your card for not knowing answers to quintessential questions related to our shared experiences. You’ve never seen The Color Purple? Black card revoked. You don’t know the names of all the Jacksons? You should be ashamed AND have your Black card revoked.
In 2015, Latesha Williams and her business partner, Jay Bobo, recognized the opportunity to make revoking one’s card a game for ages 13 and up. They co-founded Cards For All People with a focus of bringing the culture to trivia games. Their mission “to create unique and memorable play experiences for diverse and inclusive communities” has made their company a leader in the gaming industry. In addition to family fun, they provide products for women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
No matter who’s coming over for game night, Black Card Revoked is a hilarious way to bond, test your knowledge of our history, and create memories that can last a lifetime. It’s a “must-have game for people who love Black people and Black culture.”
BGN had a video chat with Williams about creating Black Card Revoked, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and creating space to bond with others in the midst of the pandemic.
Can you tell me what gave you the idea for Black Card Revoked?
I’ve been blessed to have a lot of various experiences in the many socio-economic realms of African American people and African American experiences. I started out very young in New York City interning and working with tons of people. I ran Jay Z’s fan club. When I was in college, I had a full time job at Rocawear. I’ve always been in the culture and in the realm of Black people, especially the successful ones within the culture we love, which is hip-hop, which I love.
That led me to working with LeBron when he created LRMR Management and Marketing with his childhood friends. I worked my way up to the Head of Business Development where I introduced a digital arm. There, I met my partner, Jay, and together through our work in digital, we just understood a very clear line of shared experience. Shared experiences are a thing that can be transferred over from digital into products. We always wanted to play within that realm.
One day we were laughing about something we read about Black Twitter and Rachel Dolezal, and it was this really interesting connection of shared experiences. We said, “Hunh, there’s something here.” Then we started data mining and researching and we came up with the game together. We wrote the questions in a conversational tone. We said, “We’re going to create this. Let’s put it in the marketplace and see how it performs.” It went viral. We sold out our first year. It’s been quite a ride since.
Was this your first venture into entrepreneurship?
The unique part of my journey is I’ve never had a traditional job. Working within the realm of hip-hop is never a nine-to-five. All of those job opportunities were so entrepreneurial that this was the same kind of hustle: strategic decision making, relationships. For me, it was my first formal venture into entrepreneurship, but I feel like my whole entire career prepared me for it. Working under moguls like Jay, Puff, LeBron, they beat it into you, so it becomes second nature. But as for my partner, he is a serial entrepreneur.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to get started?
The power of social media creates such an even landscape for everyone. I didn’t have any of that. For me it was beating the ground, standing outside of offices, the old school way of doing it. Digital definitely provides a lot more ease into learning who to know, who can be helpful, growing your network, strategically positioning yourself. Getting into this space, I would definitely recommend a lot of research and really using the internet to your advantage. You can manufacture things quicker, faster now than you ever could previously. Learning your category, right? You want to do card games? Who’s out there? What are they doing? How are they doing it? Can you talk to them? Can you get an informational interview? I do informationals all the time with folks who have strategically figured out how to get to me; how to really make me pay attention to what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. An informational is where you reach out to a target executive or a targeted person of interest for what you want to do. When you reach out, you’re very specific in why you’re reaching out and what you hope to gain. You make it as clear as possible to the person one the other side who you are, what you’ve done, and why you have to talk to them.
Has being a woman, specifically a Black woman, affected you in this business? Has it helped or hindered you?
You know what? I can’t say it’s hindered me at all. I’ve always been in very male-dominated fields. Hip-hop is obviously super male-dominated and sports is super male-dominated, so it hasn’t hindered me. Again, I think my path has prepared me for this.
Has it helped? It’s helped in the sense that I am the target audience. My shared experiences with the customer have been a huge help for sure because our target customer is the Black woman. The experiences she has had I’m sure I have had one way or another. That connection to family and creating these amazing experiences, I think, is at the foundation of most Black women.
Do you have an expansion pack or other games that are coming? What’s next for the company?
Every holiday season we introduce a new game. We are in our fifth edition of Black Card Revoked. We have about seven expansion packs. One game I don’t think many people know we have, that I think your audience will love, is Nerd Card Revoked. We just released last holiday season our latest, and I want to say one of our greatest, Saved and Sanctified. Judging by your reaction you already know what that means. [Laughs.] The Black church is an experience. We’re doubling down on the shared experiences of being Black in America. That is our latest product that speaks to it. It’s been doing pretty well. The audience loves it. The audience helped us write it. We have large play sessions across territories because we never want to put a product in the marketplace that is not authentic to the Black experience.
Has the pandemic affected your momentum with the game?
We’ve been very blessed that the pandemic has brought families together a lot more and in unique ways. Our customers are so innovative in how they play our games that we are always blown away by the ingenuity they use to play. A lot of people play on Zoom and Kahoot and in all of these different programs that they utilize to bring their families together virtually because they can’t see each other in person. We have been very blessed that they’ve been doing that. Sales have gone up as a result of people staying home creating fun game nights. We’ve been trying to keep up with the demand and continuing to develop products that bring families together across generations.
It was a pleasure speaking with Latesha Williams. She’s young, dope, and a great example of the ways in which more members of our community are finding their own paths and trailblazing the way for others to follow. You can purchase Black Card Revoked and other games directly from cardsforallpeople.com or at your local big-box retailers, such as Walmart or Target. I personally own Black Card Revoked, and I can attest that it’s a fun time to be had by all. If you don’t have it, your Black card should be revoked!
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Celestial Holmes is passionate about the power of prose, and she uses it to uplift her people for various Afrocentric outlets. She is also a published author, writing under the pseudonym Mbinguni.