Kanye? Or Not?

Imagine a tabletop game where cards illustrated with faces stand in racks before you and your opponent. You’re ready to take turns asking yes-or-no questions to guess each other’s unseen cards. Wait…what’s this? All the faces depict black men, and half are Kanye West.

This is ‘ye or nay?, a game/artwork created by assistant professor of digital arts and new media and critical race and ethnic studies A. M. Darke, a conceptual artist and activist who designs tools for social intervention. A work in progress with illustrator Tajae Keith, ‘ye or nay? is Darke’s satirical reimagining of Guess Who?, the classic game in which the first question commonly asks: male? (or female?). Darke replaces this question in ‘ye or nay? with one based on a “far less ridiculous binary”: Kanye West? (or not Kanye West?).

'ye or nay?, a game created by Assistant Professor A. M. Darke, a conceptual artist and activist, reimagines the classic game Guess Who? All the game's cards depict black men, and half of them are Kanye West. Credit: A. M. Darke, with permission.

By requiring players to describe and differentiate among black men, ‘ye or nay? provides opportunities for them to reflect on their perceptions and biases in an engaging way, Darke said. But the main goal of depicting black faces is so black people can see themselves represented in a broader way than in mainstream, white-dominated culture, they said. “‘ye or nay? is just as much about celebrating black male beauty as it is about examining the language we build around blackness.”

Erika K. Carlson