Dear UNO, why haven’t you changed your rules to fit how we all actually play?

OPINION: No matter how often UNO attempts to tell us the ‘correct’ way to play, the people will do what the people feel is right.

UNO card game packaging are seen in a store in Poland on April 19, 2022. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Do you know what I love? Aside from my family and music, I really enjoy how every few years something that throws social media into a tizzy and always manages to recycle itself and throw new people into a tizzy. Apparently, when we — the people — care about something, we care hard and on a continuous loop. Such is the case with the card game UNO — perhaps you’ve heard of it. 

It’s the game where you get dealt 7 cards, and then you play color-coded numerical cards in a one-person attempt to force your opposition to pull as many cards as possible from the deck while reducing your own stash down to the vaunted, “uno.” I’m realizing my description probably needs work, but that’s kind of the point of this discussion. 

You see, there are official rules to the game of UNO, and yet, when it comes to the argument-inducing, battle-rap-in-card-game antics, we — the people, the Black people (and presumably the non-Black people, too) — prefer our own take on the rules. And they manifest themselves in the form of just how you are supposed to stack draw-x cards and how we PREFER to stack draw-x cards. 

For instance, all my life (I had to fight) I’ve played UNO under the auspices that if you drop, say, a draw-4 card, the person right behind you can drop a draw-2 or draw-4 and so on and so on until a person doesn’t have a draw-x card to drop, resulting in that person having to draw the total of how many draw-x cards got dropped. It’s always fun to see somebody draw like twenty cards in one shot. 

According to UNO, from a tweet that continues to resurface every few years, you can’t sit with them — UNO — if you attempt to stack a draw-2 on top of a draw-4, you’re playing the game wrong, tantamount to cheating. I scoff at such foolishness. 

For one, that doesn’t even make sense; of course, you’d stack as many potential cards on top of one another, so that you can keep the momentum moving around the board. There are so many doggone UNO cards you have to reduce that pile SOMEHOW. For seconds, I feel about this rule like I do about the “offsides” rule in soccer (football); I hate it. It takes the fun (and scoring) out of the game. As long as I can keep stacking draw-x cards then you can change your entire destiny. Sure, it’s a reach and potentially non-sense, but you know what? I enjoy non-sense.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Plus, let’s be real: nobody actually likes or respects that fun-hampering rule. Do you know how I know this? When the makers of UNO put out official rules in the best place to make something official — Twitter — not a single person I know actually believed it or followed that rule. Nor did it change anybody’s behavior. 

So there’s only one respectable and common sense response to it: UNO needs to change the rules. They need to acknowledge that we — the people — have spoken and if a rule exists that not a single soul (save for those few sticks in the mud who don’t do rolling stops at four-way intersections; I kid—follow the traffic rules, kids!) does it even really matter? I think not. 

Dear UNO, it’s time to listen to the people and amend your rules to match how we all actually play the game. Innovation isn’t just a 10-letter word, it’s what Frank Sinatra was talkin’ about when he sang, “My Way.” 

Usher too, for that matter. And if Usher stacks draw-2s and draw-4s then, by George, so will I. Love, 40.


Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download here.

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