It’s ‘Cuz I’m Black, Right?

Jose Vilson Jose 5 Comments

#OJshrug

On this day in the year 1995, OJ Simpson was acquitted of all charges related to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

And it’s not my fault.

I swear. My hands would have fit in those gloves for sure. I still don’t have enough money to hire the late Johnny Cochran. I didn’t even really know who OJ was besides the guy in the commercials and the NFL highlight reels. I don’t remember whether I even thought he was guilty or not, just that it interrupted my watching the New York Knicks flunk against the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals. I mean, how are you gonna interrupt the first basketball NBA Finals series without Michael Jordan in it in four years? OJ was at least guilty of infringing on the success of his own brethren. By brethren, I mean professional athletes of course. What did I care that he just murdered two people I never heard of?

Plenty, I suppose.

Because, fast forward to Troy Davis, people assume that I’d support every person in the midst of a court trial based on the color of their skin. It’s bad enough I can’t catch a cab in NYC whether I’m wearing a Syracuse University tie or a New York Yankees jersey. It’s ominous still when I’m walking with my blonde nephew-to-be around IKEA and people cock their necks back in shock (“I swear I’m Swedish!”). I can barely exercise my 15th amendment rights without people already guessing who I’ll vote for (The 2008 version of Barack Obama was an easy choice, but the rest of my column would surprise anyone who hasn’t read the blog).

Then there’s this:

RT @i*********s: @me OF COURSE U DISAGREE, U NIGGERS DONT THINK ANY BLACK MAN IS GUILTY

First, the writer makes a huge assumption that just because Samuel L. Jackson’s characters always speak in all caps that that’s the way in which to communicate to anyone of darker hue. Secondly, all we asked for is a fair trial based on the evidence presented, nothing more, nothing less. If there’s that much doubt, then why take his life unnecessarily? I don’t get it. I don’t get the death penalty period. I didn’t read the same Bible that allowed me to kill people all willy-nilly. Am I even supposed to use “willy-nilly” or should I end that with a “‘na mean son?”

I thought this was America, people.

Alas, the themes repeat themselves. Those of us with these peculiar experiences are asked to explain it to those who don’t understand. Those of us who sit in progressive settings still wondering where diversity played into the planning of these spaces. Those of us whose pieces get categorized as “other” because it’s assumed that we don’t have classical training. Those of us who’ve ever walked down Harlem with a partner whose facial features didn’t match ours.

Those of us whose heroes mostly don’t appear on no stamp.

I shouldn’t have to let anyone determine that the negativity behind people who share my experience be the only determinant of my experience. People can assume I’m angry all they want when I’m speaking with conviction. Sure, I don’t smile in pictures, I like orange soda, and I have specific dances for certain urban rhymes from the late 70s and upwards. I can’t help these things. I was born into them, and it’s how I’ve learned to negotiate the world around me since I was born.

Plus, OJ was guilty as sin. It’s not racist for me to say that much the way it’s not for you to say that. But to deny that “difference” didn’t play a role in the events that came before, during, or after any observance, trial, or anything that happens in this country where entities of two different cultures interact?

I guess that’s how I see it. It’s ‘cuz I’m Black right?

Mr. Vilson, who satirizes himself when necessary … like now …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 5

  1. Matt Mezger, Sr.

    I don’t know, Jose. My opinion is that Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman we’re set upon by some drug dealers who were looking for another party altogether. One who had checked into rehab that day, and was a close associate of Nicole’s. That O.J. was framed is manifest by the fact that the closest thing the LAPD ever had to an eyewitness was a howling dog. Unless you wish to rely upon the testimony of Kato Kaelin who heard something go boom out back. Of course this must be understood in the language of the Hollywood poolhouse parasite, or cabana boy, as it evolved in the late 20Th. Century. But the presence of edt in the bloody fingerprints could only have come from the collection vessels. That said the jury’s decision was the correct one, but the story suggests that another verdict might have been a more merciful fate for Simpson.

  2. Bella

    “First, the writer makes a huge assumption that just because Samuel L. Jackson’s characters always speak in all caps that that’s the way in which to communicate to anyone of darker hue.” <~ This is where I died! Great post! It is true that the hue of your skin makes it seem you automatically do some things but most are learned experiences.

  3. Kris

    Actually, I’m white & I think O.J. probably did do it–but I think the jury was right not to convict him given the absurd chain of evidence issues with the blood, the prosecution’s awful handling of the case, and Mr. Fuhrman’s jumping the fence with no warrant, to name but a few issues with the state’s case.

    But Troy Davis weighs heavy on my mind. It makes me ill to think of it. It saddens me that people have seemed to forget about him so quickly. I cannot believe that anyone would think that the disgust & revulsion that the circumstances of his death evokes in so many people is about race. I’m not going to even get into how appalled I am by the racist twitter rant.

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Thanks, guys. First, let me say, Matt, that even as a child, I had a bit of doubt in the case, and the police was trying too hard to make him guilty instead of just presenting the case. The LAPD botched and botched hard, typical of the police that killed Biggie and Pac.

    Bella, thanks for that.

    Kris, it makes me ill too. If he was white, I should hope justice would be served the way we wanted for Troy.

  5. Keishla

    I think the worse thing about Troy Davis is the action of the state of Georgia a few days later. Staying the execution of the other inmate. I just can’t imagine that people can be so cavalier with life. We have lost our way. And it’s not a religious path, it’s a human path. I don’t know what will come of us.

Leave a Reply