Let's be real: Grand Theft Auto appropriates Black culture

While my boyfriend was away at work, he left his computer logged in, and the popular gaming app, “Steam” running on his screen. Knowing that video games in general tend to cause misogynistic and racist habits to develop, I thought it necessary to check what he had been playing recently.

To my astonishment, he had installed the popular rape simulator Grand Theft Auto to his desktop. Not only that, he had somehow accumulated hundreds of hours of playtime.

Related: News outlet reports girl was virtually raped in GTA V

I was heartbroken. How could a man dating such a woman with strong feminist convictions partake in a video game that allows for the assault of women and minorities, and even the rape of women in sex slavery?

Where had I gone wrong in instilling values of equality and tolerance in the man that I thought loved me?

When he got home, I promptly instructed him to deactivate his Steam account and put his computer up for sale on Facebook, where I could monitor his interactions with potential buyers. This to ensure that content as dangerous as the video games he was playing would not be placed in the wrong hands.


Thankfully, I caught him. I was able to correct his behavior before something truly negative developed. I love my boyfriend, and believe that he is dedicated to intersectional feminist causes, but, as a white male, he must endure oversight if he is interested in continuing our relationship.

Many feminists, including game developers like Anita Sarkeesian, have spoken out against Grand Theft Auto for its blatant misogyny. While obviously the series’ treatment of women is problematic, intersectional feminism begs us to look at all aspects of this game that contribute to its destructive nature.

But one problematic aspect of the Grand Theft Auto games that is often overlooked is its appropriation of Black culture.

In the game, you play as a white male, who, in his free time (while not raping strippers and gunning down children), assists the various gangs of the city with crimes such as drug trafficking. The ultimate goal of the game is to gentrify Black neighborhoods by adopting Black culture and outperforming Black competitors to ultimately profit off of the labor of your Black suppliers.

In low rider cars, listening to hip hop and rap, your white character drives through Black neighborhoods, picks up Black prostitutes, and subsequently rapes and murders them. Furthermore, the game’s high level of customization allows the white character to get dreadlocks, baggy sweatpants, gold chains, and tank tops. Missions involve burglaries, drive by shootings, and gang wars.

All of this accounts for nothing more than wholesale appropriation of the white perception of Black culture, and it is simply unacceptable.

Games like Grand Theft Auto therefore contributes to white supremacy and instills violent and racist ideologies in those who play them. As an educated person, I will not tolerate a video game that profits off of that which people of color are criticized for. It’s time to call out Grand Theft Auto for its appropriation of Black culture.

As for my boyfriend, I intend to have him read more Rebecca Walker, Andrea Dworkin, and Germaine Greer in his newly freed up time. And of course more foot massages!

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