“I’m not black, I’m O.J.”
20+years on, the story of Orenthal James Simpson still captivates America. Black America believes justice was served that day in the courtroom, when he was declared not guilty. White America believes justice was served later on, when O.J. went to prison for an unrelated robbery case. Today, as he goes back to court to determine if he deserves to be released, again we are divided: in a country where so many black men have paid the highest price for their crimes, do we throw the book at a black man who was already found to be innocent by a jury of his peers?
The question, unfortunately, is not one of O.J.Simpson’s innocence in the double murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. The question is, really, do we view Simpson as a black man, when he himself has done nothing for black people and refused to claim himself as one of us until it suited his needs in a court of law? He did not view himself as black; Johnny Cochran had to dig up photos of Simpson with other black people and hang his own paintings just to get the jury to sympathize with him. Mark Furhman or no Mark Furhman, we are talking about a man who was as removed from black society as it is possible to be without employing the use of skin whitening creams. While it is understandable to want to view him as yet another case of a black man being preyed upon by a predatory judicial system that incarcerates black men to force them into America’s for profit prison state when officers aren’t busy gunning them down in the streets, we have to remember the infamous Bronco chase, during which the police were too star struck to simply pull him over. O.J. is not Eric Garner, or Michael Brown, or any of the other black men who have been fucked over by America. Orenthal James Simpson is not black, he’s O.J. And being O.J. means celebrity. It means whiteness. It means murdering two people and walking free. The Juice is loose again, because he has played and preyed on Black Americans’ sympathy. Again.