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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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I cannot imagine how frightening it must be to be on foreign soil, with so-called fellow American soldiers, and be dependent upon them to have your back when, in reality, they don’t have your back when you are on American soil with them. I mean, how many of brothers in arms would be willing to stand up for you whatever your situation is? Are you discriminated against based on your race? How about for your sexual orientation? Gender? Upbringing or class? Level of education?   Yet, somehow, you are supposed to be convinced that these same individuals who persecute you in your land will stand up with you/for you in battle?

What must it be like to be prepared to fight and possibly die for a country that won’t allow you the dignity of life? You fight to spread freedom to the world, and yet struggle to obtain equality, an education, a job or even just the right to exist as you are in a way that would afford you a real chance at a happy life in America. Nevertheless, you joined the military either because there was little else for you to do with your life or because you truly believe in fighting for an ideal. You had a choice between the military or the drudge that your life had become! Then, for your participation in this low paying club of trained killers (who, at times, have complaints of not having proper gear to do battle with or to protect themselves), you are tasked to kill so-called enemies who, truth be told, have never treated you in the manner that you have been treated in by some of your fellow Americans.

The lucky ones who return from battle can return home to find that home no longer exists. How must it feel to return to a country that you defended with your body and your mind only to find out that you are homeless, desolate and forgotten? After all you have given to your country, your needs—medical or otherwise—are on the backburner. How could they do this to you? It’s simple when you think about it: they never intended you to return home…at least, not alive.

Here’s my bottom line, whether I or anyone else agree or disagree with your life path, your home should be maintained by Uncle Sam. You should have access to proper medication and counseling. You should be taken care of by the country that YOU have taken care of. Your uncle should not write you off because he thought and maybe even hoped you would die and he would never have to provide a home, quality health insurance, housing, educational opportunities, etc., for you.

Can anybody hear me?

Making money seems to be relatively easy in the United States.  I guess that’s why individuals seeking refuge from their respective countries of origin migrate here.  With our love of singing, sports and entertainment, many people find that talents which were of no use in their home countries (or even home cities) can suddenly propel them to the top of society.  No.  With the right talent and drive, making money is not a problem.  Keeping it, however, seems to be a major one.

I cannot help but consider the many athletes and entertainers who accumulate vast wealth during their lifetimes, only to die destitute and penniless years later.  Of course, there is no ONE reason for this trend.  It is a combination of trusting the wrong people, living above one’s means (no matter how big the means in question are) and not planning for the future.  I also cite back taxes, unfamiliarity with tax shelters and laws—laws that somehow don’t apply to them (you know who they DO apply to), poor investment choices and possible addictions as some of the main causes.

I cannot tell you how often I have seen it happen.  A young entertainer rises to the top of the musical charts.  He continues this trend for a number of years to the excitement of all, including his record label.  Then, with little to no explanation other than a few disparaging reports in the tabloids, he disappears from the spotlight after music changes course and/or the discovery of the next Idol.  Just a few years thereafter, he makes headlines once again, only this time it is because he is sick, dying and broke.  Yet, somehow, the Executive with the dark blue pants and the white shirt—who, mind you, has never sung a single song—has managed to maintain the wealth he received as a result of the entertainer’s efforts.  Somehow, the Executive manages to own the original tracks—tracks which, once again, he neither wrote nor performed—of the former artist such that all royalties, rights etc., associated with this entertainer belong to the him.

How is this possible?

To some extent, one must blame a lack of understanding.  Many people simply do not understand the intricacies of finance and live as though the high times will continue forever.  As someone who has watched the lives of many young entertainers and athletes end in ruin, let me tell you, they will not.  And the only way to weather the storms ahead is to gain the understanding and knowledge of how to use wealth to accumulate more wealth; that is, diversifying one’s interests so that other forms of income will continue to come in, even if the main career goes down.

That being the case, I suggest that rather than simply focusing on gaining wealth, we open ourselves to the benefit of financial education.  Just a few business courses can be the difference between rising and falling and rising and maintaining.  Can anybody hear me?