Cards Against Humanity is the next brand to face a backlash.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world, brands are finally being held account for long overdue incidents of racism. Whether that is fashion brands who explicitly exclude BAME creatives or employees or food brands such as Aunt Jemima which are rooted in racist stereotypes.

The next brand up on the chopping block is the infamous game Cards Against Humanity.

So, what is the controversy with Cards Against Humanity? All eyes have been on co-founder Max Temkin since accusations of racism emerged on June 6th, 2020.

Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post

What is Cards Against Humanity?

Cards Against Humanity is a controversial game in essence. It encourages the players to be as offensive as possible, meaning the gameplay often takes more than just an eyebrow-raising turn.

It was founded in 2010 through a Kickstarter campaign by eight active co-founders, many of them students at the time. Over the past decade, Cards Against Humanity transformed from a politically incorrect party game into a multimillion dollar business.

Each round, one player asks a question from a black card; everyone else then has to answer with their funniest or most provocative white card. The player who asked the question gets to decide who is the winner of the round.

Cards Against Humanity: Controversy hits

One June 6th, 2020, former Cards Against Humanity employees began to speak out about their experiences working for the company in their Chicago office.

They stated that there was a racist and sexist company culture, spearheaded by co-founder Max Temkin, that disproportionately affected Black employees. Sexual assault allegations against Temkin also reemerged.

Polygon revealed their investigation into Cards Against Humanity and Max Temkin on Wednesday, June 23rd. Here they interviewed former employees about the incidences of racism and sexism, underlying and overt, which pervaded the office.

As a result of Polygon’s investigation and the statements made by CAH employees since June 6th, the company made an official statement taking action and announcing Max Temkin had resigned. They said:

“As Cards Against Humanity rapidly grew from a hobby project in our parents’ basements to a company with 18 full-time employees, we made a lot of mistakes. We want to apologize to employees who were unheard or disrespected in our office. We are truly sorry. We also want to state unequivocally that we condemn harassment of anyone who has posted stories about their experiences at Cards Against Humanity.”

Opinion: Cards Against Humanity proves far from funny

The fact that Cards Against Humanity is being called out for racism and sexism will not come as a big shock for those who have played the game.

Although the game is advertised as “a party game for horrible people,” that hasn’t diminished the fact that it is still, in essence, offensive. The concern over Cards Against Humanity is not part of some PC tirade, as some of the cards featured in the game are downright controversial. Sure, they have “Harry Potter erotica” and “a disappointing birthday party” thrown into the mix to amp up the silliness of the game, but that does not balance the scale of offence caused.

Some of the cards listed below are all from editions of Cards Against Humanity. They may cause offence and reiterate the controversial humour Cards Against Humanity encourages.

White cards over the years have included: “Dead babies,” “Surprise sex,” “A sassy black woman,” “Not giving a s*** about the third world,” “R*ping and pillaging,” “Roofies,” “African children,” and “The Virginia Tech Massacre.” The list goes on.

Nico Carter, a former employee, even told Polygon there was an instance where head writers wanted to add a card that included the phrase “the N-word” to the game. 

Positing the brand as explicitly “against humanity” does not excuse the normalisation of this type of humour. We’re sure the company’s acceptance of their wrongdoings will come as welcome news to many.

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