OK, so the verdict came a little later than expected and it wasn’t exactly for the same charges. Nonetheless, OJ Simpson now stands to spend the rest of his life behind bars for being convicted on 12 felonious counts including armed kidnapping and robbery.
I go on the record declaring that I have absolutely no sympathy for Orenthal. Exactly thirteen years ago, Simpson dodged a major bullet when he was aquitted of murdering his wife and her lover. And while I can’t say with absolute certainty that he actually committed the crimes (or was at least complicit), he needed to fade from the public’s eye immediately after the verdict was read. He owed at least that much to the black community who came to his rescue. That now infamous verdict led Black America to do the unimaginable: celebrate a likely killer just because of what his acquittal represented. The first time he got off, black people all across the country were celebrating this as a payback point in the injustice column. It should have been left at that. But now, we are all sick of him. Evidenced by the verdict of the mostly white jury (10 white, 2 Latino), everybody else is sick of him too. After writing that horrible book (which – thankfully – was never allowed to see the light of day) and getting involved in this latest sports memorabilia scandal, OJ’s “Juice” finally went flat.
A part of me however is a little concerned by what this particular conviction represents. Of those twelve jurors in the box, how many of them made their decision solely on OJ’s (alleged) prior bad acts? How many of them were determined not to let ‘that black feller who killed that white woman’ to get away again? How many more black defendants stand to face the same fate people think OJ should’ve faced if they are charged with crimes against whites? Though I haven’t found much research that has explored the idea of the “OJ Effect”, I’m wondering if (and if so, to what extent) it impacts criminal law. But that’s another topic for another day.
The point of this post was to remind Mr. Orenthal not to expect black America to have his back on this one. He is no longer the symbol of black retribution against “the Man“. That job belongs to another black person who doesn’t have to kill spouses or kidnap people at gunpoint; but instead, inspires millions of people from all races and backgrounds to change the world for the better. You may have heard of him.