It’s ‘Cuz I’m Black, Right?

Jose Vilson Jose


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:


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 …