Today, global creative agency Anomaly launches a new boundary-breaking initiative, Black Goes First, to raise awareness about implicit bias and to raise funds for the Detroit City Chess Club, one of the largest, longest-standing, predominantly African American competing youth chess clubs in the U.S.
In chess, there is implicit power behind the first and most consequential rule: White goes first. This means White gets a leg up on the game commonly referred to as the “first move advantage.” This rule also represents the unconscious bias and unwritten (and sometimes written) rules in society that directly oppresses and suppresses the Black community in our daily lives, restricting education, access, and opportunity.
Anomaly remains dedicated to addressing implicit bias. As such, the goal of Black Goes First is to inspire a new generation of players to fall in love with the game by building confidence in and access to chess for Black youth, in hopes that they may one day join the ranks of the most skilled players in the world and reach the pinnacle – becoming a Grandmaster. Currently, out of 1721 Grandmasters, only 4 are Black.
“Chess is a game that demands that we truly stop and think about how our minds work and how our thoughts affect reality. The idea of turning a traditional chess rule on its head to illustrate the critical issue of unconscious bias is a powerful way to initiate much needed discussions on this important topic.” Maurice Ashley, International Chess Grandmaster.
In order to help bring awareness to the cause and in support of Black Music Month, Anomaly has partnered with music industry veteran Chaka Zulu and friends, including celebrity chess enthusiasts within the hip hop community to auction a signed premium chessboard with the key new rule: Black Goes First. The predominantly black, 14″ x 14″ x 1″ board is made from a beautiful matte black composite stone. The rule change, engraved in stone, faces each player, front and center. This campaign launches today and the Auction goes live on June 17 ahead of Juneteenth via BlackGoesFirst.com. Iconic hip-hop superstars JAY-Z and RZA, NBA legend Carmelo Anthony, and chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley have committed their signatures to further elevate the idea.
“Hip Hop Culture has a love affair with the game of chess and they’ve been intertwined for years. In my home, we’ve always played Black Goes First. The music, the game, and the culture build character and critical life skills that are required for the progress and survival of Black youth yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” Chaka Zulu, chess enthusiast and music industry veteran.
Anomaly’s Black Goes First campaign aims to awaken people to blatant unconscious bias in chess and life, while amplifying and supporting the next generation of Black chess champions by donating 100% of all funds raised to the Detroit City Chess Club and setting a new standard for equitable community campaigns.
“Radically centering equity and service, Anomaly’s Black Goes First campaign uniquely challenges implicit bias and inequitable campaign models that don’t work directly with and for the communities they seek to engage. BGF is a campaign designed in support of and in partnership with the Black community to support Black youth. The campaign employs 100% Black influencer/celebrity support, and 100% of profits from the auction will be donated to the Detroit City Chess Club.” Kristi Henderson, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Anomaly.
Find out more about the auction and the project, and check out the film at the website: BlackGoesFirst.com.