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After watching recent episodes of Jeopardy, I had a real Aha moment.

Approximately every two out of six episodes had at least one category related to African Americans.  The rest of the game board categories contained a combination of academic subjects such as spelling or mathematics and a host of random facts regarding White American interests and/or other history.

To my chagrin, I noticed that each time a category regarding all things African American was included, it was prefaced by the words: African American this or African American that.  The same was not true for other categories.  In fact, the other categories in the game were labeled quite differently and often quite humorously.

I further noted that even when all the answers pertaining to the other categories in the game were regarding White authors, White actors, etc., the categories were never labeled as White Authors or While Actors or White Philosophers.  Author, Actor or Historian were enough.

Why?

Why did and do questions relating to African Americans have to be singled out and specified…both on the show and in life?

Inevitably, after THE category (because it was only one) specifically​ labeled as African American this or African American  that was completed, the remainder of the game board contained information specific to situations celebrated, revered or sometimes even considered less appreciated by white America.  But, regardless of the associated emotion—from love to abject horror—the topics were merely categorized as History, Actors, 18th Century Authors, etc., with only the locations to give them away.

I had no other choice but to, once again, conclude that anyone versed in “White” History—or, as it is usually called, “History” in general—can do well on this particular type of game show as well  SAT/ACT exams and the like, since these mandatory tests are little more than mini-episodes of Jeopardy, minus the musical interlude and snappy comebacks from the host.

However, if that same individual focused on historical matters pertaining to their own history or race of people, they would not do nearly as well in any of these things.  In fact, they would probably not even be considered bright.

Militant maybe…even hateful.  But bright wouldn’t be listed.

Meanwhile, White Americans can and do finish school having learned barely anything about African Americans other than the occasional Black History Month studies.  And let’s face it, even if that is adhered to, it often showcases the same Blacks—e.g. Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Charles Drew, etc.—or emphasizes African American athletes and entertainers over the past and present-day contributions of African Americans to Science and Technology.

In 2017, students can finish school with minimal knowledge of African American life while it remains mandatory for these same students to know almost every facet of “White” life in order to be successful on any level of society…including game shows.

And what galls me even more is that, even when African Americans were directly involved in “White history,” we are still overlooked and left out of the history books.  The movie Hidden Figures is just one outstanding example of the squashing of African American contributions to America.  There are many, many others.  Somehow, the story regarding the Space program is included in American History.  However, the African American females integral to the mission were omitted!

Why?

Was this an innocent oversight or a deliberate attempt to white out (pun intended) the contributions of African Americans to society?

I’ll take “deliberate attempt to white out African American contributions to society” for 1000, Alex!

I guess we’ll just shuck and jive or play a few quarters while White Americans make history.

Can anybody hear me?

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On a recent episode of T.V.’s Jeopardy, three non African-American students strategically and obviously avoided the category regarding African-American History without as much as a second look from Jeopardy’s long-time host Alex Trebek…or the studio audience for that matter.  At first glance, this may seem outrageous.  However, when you consider that there even remains a need for an African-American History Month as well as a separate category for African-American History (as opposed to an American History that is inclusive of all Americans), some of the outrage subsides.

After all, why should students, college or otherwise, black, white or other, waste time learning about a category that has not yet made it into the history books?  Is not used in mainstream education as an actual part of history?  And, continues to be treated as a special section of history that doesn’t warrant a position in everyday history lessons?

Why study and memorize this particular aspect of history as long as there is no real reason to do so?  Unless you are majoring in African-American Studies and plan to teach it, what might this particular knowledge do for you in terms of your career?  Overall knowledge of this category will certainly not determine your ability to win at Jeopardy or any other game show where the answers to 90% of the questions relate to white-American history (better known as American History or simply History).

Nevertheless, the question must be asked:  Doesn’t history occur as it unfolds?  After all, isn’t history, history?  So how can patches of it be edited out, shuffled off to the side and ignored and history still be considered accurate?

The knowledge of African-American History will certainly not assist you in completing necessary SAT exams to gain college entry.  This particular knowledge will not prepare you for any job other than specified above.  So, even in 2014 with an African-American president in the White House, African-American History continues to remain in the background, taking a backseat to other areas and times in history that are required for all to know in order to even remotely be considered “smart” and knowledgeable enough to be successful in America.

Suffice it to say that, most often, on Jeopardy or anywhere else in America, the question to the answer is more likely to be:  Who is George Washington than who is George Washington Carver.  Can anybody hear me?