Jeopardy! and the politics of hair

Why do we let superficial things like hair distract us from substance and interrupt us from acknowledging a job well done? Photo: Jeopardy!

WASHINGTON, DC, February 4, 2013  - So this kid, Leonard Cooper, did a fantastic job coming from behind and eventually besting his competitors during this season’s Jeopardy! Teen tournament to take the win.  And he did so in rock star fashion. 

After realizing he didn’t know the answer to the final Jeopardy question but still had a pretty excellent chance of winning anyway, wrote, “Who is some guy in Normandy, but I just won $75,000.“

Pretty awesome. Smart and a sense of humor. A nice combination.

The Final Jeopardy question was “On June 6, 1944 he said, ‘The eyes of the world are upon you” and the answer was Dwight Eisenhower. But alas, that did not matter. Cooper had won!

But then reading up about the fun ending to the competition, I saw several comments criticizing the young man’s massive afro hairstyle. Many urged him to cut it and others made jokes about it. No harm really as he is still $75,000 richer for being smart while the critical commenters are without…or at least have to put in more work to earn that amount of money.

READ MORE: Top 6 racy Super Bowl commercials no longer family friendly

Still, it reminded me of the whole Gabrielle Douglas “hair” drama of last summer Olympics when some social media peanut gallery of people decided to repeatedly criticize the quality of the historic Gold medaling gymnast’s hair. She became the first US Gymnast to win overall Gold in Olympic history.

Yet, some people were content on having a discussion of her locks share, dominate and sometime overpower any talk of her accomplishments.

And though not on larger scale, Cooper’s hair detractors are tactfully electing to dismiss the wonderful win to focus on the texture, volume and puffiness of the natural hair growing out of his head.

Grooming and appearance is indeed important for school children of all ages as they will be confident to focus on studies if they are well kept. It causes one to pause over the fact there is too much attention on the superficial.

Few boys that look like this kid make it to Jeopardy! and even fewer win.  Kids that look like Leonard are known well in movies, TV, rap videos and in the news for negative things even though there are more smart kids that look like Leonard out there doing well academically and don’t get in trouble than one would ever see celebrated in our media.

So lay off the jokes about hair and appearance and give the kid a “kudos” and “salud” for a job well done.

READ MORE: Politics of Raising Children by Jeneba Ghatt

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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site while authoring her own influential blog which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

Contact Jeneba Ghatt


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