Alex Trebek: ‘I’m out there in the Afro-American community as a ‘brother”

SNL 40th Anniversary Special - 2015

Alex Trebek is 78 years old and he’s still hosting the hell out of Jeopardy. I used to watch Jeopardy all the time, but I’ve been taking a break this year and spending that time doing more valuable things, like watching tennis or watching cooking shows. I don’t think I ever really connected to the idea that Trebek might be a political person, but here we go: he decided to sit down and give an interview to Harvey Levin’s new Fox News show, OBJECTified. Harvey Levin of TMZ, in bed with Fox News, and Alex Trebek is signing up for that? My brain just fizzled out. I’ll take Random Shenanigans for $100.

So in this clip, Trebek tells a story about how he got involved with the United Negro College Fund and when he was at a fundraiser, he ended up chatting with the late, great Gregory Hines. Trebek points out that at that time – the 1970s – he had a big “afro” (his word) and a deep tan and someone came up to him at the event and made a joke about how he and Hines were “brothers.” Trebek tells Levin, “I’m out there in the Afro-American community as a ‘brother’.” And then he does a fist.

Offensive or no? I don’t mind the black-power fist, even if it was done half-mockingly (I think he was mocking himself more than anything). What I mind is that he called it the “Afro-American community.” Like, does he think that’s different than the African-American community? Like, he thought he was being accepted into a community that welcomed people with afros, afros of all colors. Anyway, he was born in Canada. *raises apologetic fist*

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20 Responses to “Alex Trebek: ‘I’m out there in the Afro-American community as a ‘brother””

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  1. Shelly says:

    Not offensive at all. He also provided context.

    • Shannon says:

      My thoughts. He provided context, I think he just saw it as an amusing story but that’s just how I see it.

  2. Miss Margo says:

    Am. I wrong for laughing at this? Crazy old man thinks hes a “brother”? I think that’s funny as hell. And it’s not like he’s Clint Eastwood right? He just seems like such a nice man.

  3. Alix says:

    I think he was just being a bit of a goof.

    And seventy-eight? Damn, he looks good!

  4. Chaine says:

    I think “Afro-American” was the PC term back-in-the-day.

    • Patricia says:

      Yes. I’ve told my dad that it’s not a great phrase at this point. He said when he was a young hippie it was the phrase used to show that you have deep respect for black people. My dad is 65. He said his peers used a lot of horrible words that he never wanted to use. So he learned Afro American.
      I said call black people black people! He thought that was amazing, because he thought it was offensive.

  5. Citresse says:

    I used to watch Alex host Card Sharks…good show!

  6. Bettyrose says:

    I don’t feel qualified to say whether it’s offensive, but tbf he’s talking about something he did decades ago and acknowedging it’s comical in hindsight that he had such a tacky 70s look.

    • Anners says:

      That’s how I took it, too. Hope it wasn’t offensive – he seems genuine and more “not woke” than racist. But that may be just me hoping that another one of my favourites doesn’t do a ginormous faceplant.

  7. Boxy Lady says:

    In the 70s, we *were* called Afro-Americans. The terms (colored, Negro, black, etc.) have evolved over the years and “African-Americans” is just the latest one. Plus, yeah, I think he was making a pun about the community of Americans who have afros. It’s not just black folks with those ‘fros ☺ (ex. Art Garfunkel).

    • Natalia says:

      Exactly! You said it better than I did!

    • Jerusha says:

      Yes, as a librarian for 41 years who dealt with all the Sears Subject Headings changes over time, I can attest that Afro-American was the term used in the 70s. When I arrived at our H.S. Library in 1975(pre computers)our card catalog was still filled with cards having Colored and Negro as subject headings. I changed them to the then current Afro-American. IIRC, that changed to Black, before eventually becoming African-American.

    • Anoni Mus says:

      Just FYI, in Latin America, you call people with african ancestry born in the Americas, ”afroamericano”. So this does not sound offensive to me at all (spanish is my first language). I guess it is definitely a term that is not used as often in the US.

  8. Christina says:

    Gregory Hines was so fine. He was my dream husband. Losing him was so sad. Hearing this was nice, and Alex is a goof. Hoping that he is an ally to POC, but this is just a pleasant story.

  9. Mumbles says:

    Alex can be a bit much but he is such an excellent host of that show, reading those clues quickly and effortlessly even if the players are jumping around. And at 78!

    Another interesting thing – a few years ago the journalist Matt Taibbi wrote a book called “The Divide”, about how the justice system in America is deeply flawed, with wealthy people (and banks) getting away with slaps on the wrist (if anything) and poor minority people get thrown into jail for months if not years for “loitering” or “resisting arrest.” Anyway, someone reached out to Taibbi on his Twitter to tell him he had attended a Jeopardy taping and during the audience q&a, Trebek told people he was reading the book and urged them all to do so as well because these issues are important.

    This is a long way to say that I think Trebek is interested in these issues and in light of this story, he was probably trying to be an “ally.”

  10. Honey says:

    An undercover brother. Who knew? From here on out, I guess I’ll think of him as the Don Cornelius of Jeopardy. ✊🏽

  11. Starryfish29 says:

    There seems to be a lot going on here, and I understand absolutely none of it.

  12. CharlieBouquet says:

    I read that guys articles in RS, I’ll look for the book. DL Hughely recently summed it up on the view IMO:

    When white people are on opiates it’s a health crisis. When it’s crack in the hood it’s a crime. Having lost friends and neighbors and family to crack, either through death or incarceration, he is telling the painful truth.

  13. bonobochick says:

    That vid snippet is a hot mess.

  14. sara6 says:

    Harvey Levin quickly moved away from Trump during the Charlottesville protests that resulted in the murder of a protester and where Trump compared protestors to Nazis. His staff hated Trump and Harvey got in line. And now he’s constantly insulting Trump on his show. Not a Harvey stan, but that’s what America needs – people to see the light about Trump even if it hurts their bottom line. What I find interesting is that the big article about the rift between the staff and Harvey about Trump came after Charlottesville, but anyone who watches the show saw Harvey Levin’s perspective change.