A Texas-based mahjong company founded by three white women is being accused of cultural appropriation for its “refresh” of the traditionally Chinese game.
The Mahjong Line swapped out the Chinese characters and symbols typically found on mahjong tiles for images of cherries, bar soap and bags of flour for the brand’s colorful sets, which they hawk for as much as $425.
“On a quest to purchase her first Mahjong set, Kate [LaGere] discovered that the artwork of the traditional tiles, while beautiful, was all the same — and did not reflect the fun that was had when playing with her friends,” the Dallas company’s website read before it was taken offline. “And nothing came close to mirroring her style and personality.”
So, LaGere and the Mahjong Line’s two other co-founders, Annie O’Grady and Bianca Watson, set off to do a “respectful refresh” of the venerable game — by scrubbing the tiles of what they called “confusing” and “unnecessary” Chinese