Ashley Noelle Ver Beek (she/her) holds a B.A. in critical ethnic studies and political science from Kalamazoo College and is passionate about the pursuit of racial and gender equity and justice across various fields. Before coming to Sojourners, Ashley worked with state policy advocacy and organizing around school pushout at YWCA Kalamazoo. She spent two years as a legal assistant at an immigration law office and has also facilitated bilingual academic support programs for youth.
Her undergraduate thesis on state gender violence and Indigenous women’s resistance in Ecuador centered on the experiences of Indigenous women’s embodied protest against the state. Ashley explores the relationships between justice, religion, empire, embodied spiritual practices, and white supremacy in her academic and personal projects. She is passionate about journalism as a way to amplify and re-center voices that have been suppressed by dominant narratives in church, politics, and media.
Ashley credits the work of Audre Lorde, Dr. Christena Cleveland’s “unlearning whitemalegod,” Lisa Betasamosake Simpson, and many more for allowing her to be transformed by the process of decolonizing practice, theology, and ways of knowing.
In her downtime, Ashley can be found reading, climbing mountains, curating Spotify playlists, experimenting in the kitchen, and talking to strangers until they wind up becoming dear friends.
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Board Games Can Bring Out the Best In Us. But What Shall We Play?
WHEN ELIZABETH MAGIE invented The Landlord’s Game, known today as Monopoly, she drew up two sets of rules: one “monopolist,” employing fierce competition and cutthroat property snatching, as the game is played today; the other “anti-monopolist,” namesake of a larger movement intended to demonstrate the dangers from unregulated wealth accumulation by the few and economic inequity in the late 1890s. Magie hoped that soon “men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with.”
For Magie, daughter of an abolitionist and anti-monopolist, game creation was not simply an innocent pastime. She resonated with how games could provide a way to envision a new reality and usher in robust ideas.
When I was in college, several of my classmates in a world Indigenous literature class talked about how games we grew up playing—from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan—embodied settler colonialism and capitalism. In Settlers, the goal is to build as much as you can in unoccupied land and accumulate resources. In Monopoly, you aim to procure ownership of as many properties on the board as you can, raising rent to force other players into bankruptcy while you elude jail. Ticket to Ride-USA encourages players to build railroads across the United States, invoking the forces of manifest destiny without a critical lens. Jamaica is a board game where European pirates surround the island and battle for the most resources. Bang! The Dice Game catalogs life in the “Wild West,” where the French, Mexicans, and “Indians” fight each other; one dice roll can “save” a player from an “Indian attack.”