Guess Who isn’t included?


This weekend, my son had his first spontaneous recogniztion of how people of color are left out of "mainstream" society.

He’s been sick, so we have been playing endless games to keep him occupied. We just finished a series of "Guess Who" games, in which each player has 24 "people" and the object is to guess which one the other player has singled out. You ask questions like, "Does your person have a hat?" and if the answer is "yes" then you flip down all the people who don’t have hats, etc.

After we finished our game, my son says, "Mom, this game is kind of racist. How come there’s no black people or Asians in this game? They show men and women, but they are all white."

Good question, son. Well, Hasbro? Got an answer for him?

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

10 thoughts

  1. Ugghhh….my daughter loves that game, I hadn’t noticed. Its only a matter of time til she notices, she gives me the racial mix report in the grocery store- she is not six til next month.

  2. I never know quite where to land on these things. Important issue for anyone raising children of color.
    For example, if my four year old is crazy about “Thomas” and the Island of English people, should I point out that none of them look like him?
    I tend to disagree with the above on TV. My children watch PBS Sprout and Nickelodeon when they do watch TV, and I see plenty of diversity there.
    I think perspective is a funny thing. Yes, I agree that game is unfortunate in its lack of diversity, yet when I look at that box cover, I see about half a dozen or more ethnicities.
    Because of that, I try to be sensitive to other perspectives. Thanks for providing yours.

  3. Hi – Do all US versions of this game (old and new) have the same problem? What a stupid response from Hasbro. It really bothers me when something is all white, unless there is a good reason for it. I usually just assume the company responsible is racist. Your son is very observant! Neither of my children has said anything like this yet.
    In Japan, it bothers me if something (like a textbook) is “all Japanese”, with no diversity. On children’s TV here they have a bit of diversity now (better than nothing…), with a handful of fluent Japanese-speaking, non-caricature-like non-Japanese children or presenters (not only white).
    In my Guess Who game, from England, there are 5 people with medium brown skin and 19 with light skin. When we play we just say “Do you have brown skin or pink skin?” etc., and I don’t know why Hasbro thinks this might be off limits. Of the 19 with light skin, around 7 of them could potentially be Asian or middle Eastern, based on hair and eye color. There are no different shapes of eyes to show East Asian characters, but living in Japan I am used to the way they draw pictures here, and it would bother me to see the American-style overexaggeration of eyes and hair that they always use in American things to mark, “look, this is an Asian character!” Every day I see many different kinds of hair and eyes here in Japan, so it annoys me to see just that one “look” (even the haircut is always the same!) used all the time to show “see how diverse our textbook is, but we haven’t got a clue…”. Is it only me that thinks this…?? I have been wondering.

  4. I was just talking about this with my friend who is a therapist in a school. She said she was playing this game with a child when she realized how euro-centric it is. She said that she noticed that it was mostly men, and that there were no redheads, like her. I haven’t played it in a long, long time but I was interested in the dialogue she had with the student about the fact that neither he (an African American child) nor she (an Irish American redhead) was represented in the characters.

  5. You are raising him well to be so observant!
    Hasbro’s answer is a cop out. It’s like saying white=normal. BAHHHHH!!!

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