Want to Help Fight AIDS in the Black Community? Play Bid Whist!


If you think sitting down with your friends to play cards is just a matter of fun and games, think again. The Black AIDS Institute, a Los Angeles-based national think tank dedicated to ending the AIDS pandemic in black communities, has unveiled the latest weapon in its war against HIV/AIDS disparities—bid whist, a card game that has strong historical significance for African Americans.

To mobilize black communities, increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and raise funds for fighting the disease, the Institute has launched the 2010 Trump AIDS National Bid Whist Tournament. For 33 weeks, from January 15 to August 27, Trump AIDS will sponsor 31 qualifying tournaments in cities coast to coast. Each local tournament will recruit teams who will compete for cash prizes while engaging in fundraising and awareness-building activities in their own communities. There will also be an HIV/AIDS health fair, including free HIV testing, at every tournament.

Each local winning team, as well as teams that fundraise a minimum of $3,000, will be eligible to compete in the Trump AIDS national championship tournament in November. The national tournament will award a total of $45,000 in prize money, including $20,000 for the First Place team and $10,000 for Second Place.

Why use a bid whist tournament as a strategy for combating AIDS disparities? “[We were] looking for a uniquely black idea that could be used to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in black communities and possibly raise resources to fight this deadly disease,” the Institute explains in a press release. “One such idea is bid whist, which—in various forms—has been a popular black American pastime for centuries.”

According to the National Bid Whist Association, the game’s origins date back to the era of slavery in the United States. Plantationowners forbade slaves from learning to read and write, for fear that written communications would lead to uprisings and revolts. However, slave owners needed their slaves to be able to count in order to keep better track of the cotton harvests. As a result, slaves were allowed to play card games, such as whist. The slaves put their own stamp on the game, adding a bidding element that is not present in classic whist. Bid whist as we know it today is the form of the game popularized by black Pullman porters from 1867 until the 1920s.

For more information about the 2010 National Trump AIDS Bid Whist Tournament, including official rules, how to register, qualifying tournament dates/locations and tournament sponsorship opportunities, visit www.trumpaids.org.