Now, I wanted to examine overwhelming themes in the ESPN documentary. Identity affiliation, the quest for fame & fortune, domestic violence & a distorted view of love, & the perception of 'To Protect & To Serve' in the LAPD from the perspective of the black community.
Back in 1968, when OJ won the Heisman Trophy at USC; Mr. Simpson made a choice to ingratiate himself with white alumni & rich people with a connection to the university since OJ had no desire to be considered controversial. Comedian Bob Hope even said this at a function with Simpson in attendance: "I want to congratulate OJ on not having participated in or had a riot, a demonstration, or even a sit-in while he was there." OJ had no inkling to associate himself with say the Black Panther Movement, taking a stand against the Vietnam War, or ending the practice of segregation or police harassment in this country against African Americans who sought equal housing rights, voting rights, & employment rights among their contemporaries. OJ merely wanted to lay low, not ruffle any feathers, & make millions of dollars in corporate America pitching Chevy trucks, mainstream soda pop, & rental cars. He saw himself as white not black because he surrounded himself or immersed himself really with caucasian entrepreneurs & leaders of business, industry, & entertainment. By 1994, OJ completely underwent a total reversal of loyalty. On trial for double murder, OJ & his legal team under the stewardship of Johnny Cochran appealed to black jurors as means to appear the victim of a corrupt & brutal police force under the biased eye of Detective Mark Fuhrman driven to frame him. What's funny here is that until OJ was undergoing jury selection protocols for sympathetic candidates who would rule in his favor; OJ wanted nothing to do with the black community at large. During the documentary, Simpson said to his defense team "if this [largely black] jury convicts me of murder, then maybe I did do it." Remember, back when heavy weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali chose to not fight in South East Asia in the 60's, OJ wanted nothing to do with supporting any civil rights gesture of defiance.
The problem with fame & money is this: After awhile your clout & celebrity status tends to go to your head & you're not careful, your inflated ego gives you a sense of entitlement. And often that enormous sense of entitlement creates a dangerous situation where the word no is not part of your vocabulary. You take what you want when you want it, even if that means domestic violence & physical & psychological abuse toward a woman [Nicole Brown] that Simpson supposedly loved. In Part 3, of this 10 hour miniseries that lasts 463 minutes in duration, we learn that OJ often stalked Nicole hiding in the bushes outside watching other men have sex with his estranged wife because he was very possessive of her. In addition, as you listen to frantic 911 phone calls to emergency operators in 1993, it becomes abundantly clear that Nicole feared for her life & the safety of her children Sydney & Justin. We see diary entries on screen where Nicole reveals that other men made her feel beautiful & safe while OJ just insults her, demeans her, beats her, & forces himself upon her when he feels like it. When Nicole screams & shouts he's gotta get off the phone or he will hit her again, we feel her anxiety. That's the thing about abusers: They get excited where their victim is terrified because it's all about dominance & control it's not even about intercourse. They wanna call all the shots & be in complete control 24/7. And, to the abuser, everything revolves around them. How you don't appreciate everything they do to provide for the family financially & it's okay for them to cheat with other partners socially, but if the victim leaves the home & starts romantic relationships with other men, then they are falsely labeled promiscuous, a sexual deviant, not a good mother to their kids, & disrespecting him, the habitual abuser & playboy.
As I listened to Nicole petrified on the phone after cops had been called to the Simpson estate over 8 times for domestic violence with no arrest of OJ in custody in the early 90's prior to the trial, it dawned on me how domestic violence calls are like morse code. Here's what I mean: If you feel relaxed, happy, & safe, you tend to laugh, joke around, & embellish stories. But if you are scared, on edge, & think your life is going to end any moment at the hands of an abuser: Your sentences are very short & direct, you go into survival & preservation mode, & all you care about is the welfare of your children & somehow showing them that there is nothing to be afraid of like momma bear; security blanket mode.
Once the not guilty verdict was handed down in the double murder case, a division transpired between 2 communities. Whites were stunned & in widespread disbelief that OJ got off scot free when OJ kept coming up with different excuses as to how he cut his finger. A broken glass in Chicago, a golfing mishap, or dropping his cell phone injury. Nobody bought Simpson's hotline to find the real killers of his wife either. Plus, the DNA evidence appeared to be overwhelming in the white bronco, on the scene, & the gloves Nicole purchased for him 1 Christmas where only a limited number had been sold on the west coast in that specific style. Whereas, several members in the black community felt that OJ Simpson was to be celebrated because he played the white man's legal system & beat them at their own game claiming that Mr. Fuhrman tried to almost legally entrap him. One prominent civil rights leader even said "now you know how it feels" [to be mistreated by the police white america]. I understand the wear & tear of being perceived as a 2nd class citizen by some authority figures in this world. I truly do. However, cases are supposed to be judged on their individual merits based on the facts in just that case alone. Perceptions can be different based on backgrounds & how you grew up sure, but it's never a good idea to use a murder case to rewrite or re-litigate race relations for an entire country especially using revenge as the sole reason for jury nullification. That's exactly what happened too. Jurors were angry that officers who beat Rodney King were absolved of all wrongdoing, rightly so I might add, so they decided to not deliberate & instead, use their nationwide platform to level the playing field of gross injustice in their eyes by basically pardoning OJ Simpson from any wrongdoing.
Look, I'm not here to point fingers or blame a societies rifts on 1 race or another. I just want black people & white people to feel safe & respected in the communities where they live. I may understand the trials & tribulations of every minority in America but I'm willing to listen, question any blind prejudices I might have, & try to change my way of thinking while walking in somebody else's shoes for awhile. Always remembering to not condemn what I might I might not fully grasp outright & don't forget that the world doesn't operate in absolutes, but rather in nuance & following the golden rule: Treat others how you wanna be treated yourself.
All lives matter. I care about black citizens feeling safe, respected, & protected just like I do decent law enforcement officers who are entitled to the same courtesy. Director Ezra Edelman deserves an A+ for her outstanding 5 part miniseries broken down into 2 hour viewing blocks called OJ Made In America. This film showed how far we've come as a society & sadly how far we have yet to go. On the 1 hand, it's nice to see interracial couples accepted into mainstream society as normal with no distinctions or negative stigmas attached to it, but on the other hand, love is not shown thru a furious fist & law enforcement personnel need to engage in a stronger community presence where they are seen as treating all citizens with respect so that when a catastrophe does occur like say a tornado or a home fire; everyone living in a city looks for what brings us together as opposed to what may fracture & sever our longterm bonds.
This video by Van Halen called "Don't Tell What Love Can Do" was released during the OJ Simpson Trial highlighting the dangers of domestic violence & that we can never ignore it or turn a blind to it when we see it. I always think of Nicole Brown whenever I watch it.
I'm also reminded of a TV commercial I saw once where a couple in reading in bed while they hear a women screaming thru the wall next door. We can tell the woman is being violently abused. On the couples night stand, there is a lamp & a telephone. They look at each other & we think the husband is going to call 911 & save his neighbor's life, but instead, he just turns out the light & goes to sleep. In big white letters, the screen says "IT IS YOUR BUSINESS." Wow, I was blown away how effective that advertisement really was.