o.j. simpson Archives - The Jose Vilson

o.j. simpson

It’s ‘Cuz I’m Black, Right?

by Jose Vilson on October 2, 2011

in 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 …


Color Commentary

by Jose Vilson on September 18, 2007

in Jose

Michael WilbonThe problem / blessing with being a blogger of “color” is that, because of our natural tendency to discuss politics, we’re instantly labeled and constricted to a certain type of writing i.e. we’re looked at as racial polemicists. I suppose that’s fitting seeing as how I’ve been doing this type of writing since 2K4, but on the same end, I don’t necessarily feel the need to discuss it. The Afrospear Bloggers seem to do a pretty good job of it already, but more importantly, it’s because the world has so much more to offer than racial discussion.

If I was in college at this point and time, I might have gone into the Jena 6 discussion more thoroughly. I might have told you how excited I am that Mychal Bell isn’t getting tried as an adult, and how atrocious this judicial system is that it almost turned a blind eye to the whole situation (if not for the hard work of the thousands out there). I might also have told you how much of a dimwit Jason Whitlock is for his views on the Jena 6, and how quickly he shuffles his feet and claps his hands for people above him. I’d also comment on how I’ll definitely be wearing Black on September 20th with the rest of the (eclectic and united) group of men and women who will protest the Jena 6 madness.

I might also talk about how O.J.’s a disgrace to people of color, and how there’s no way anyone who he once considered his “people” should support him. I might say how, because the denominator representing us is much smaller, when one person messes up, the fraction (or infraction) is that much bigger (math jokes tickle me). I wonder how much OJ Simpson’s memorabilia even costs, as I imagine that the value of his stuff has to cost much less than that of a steroid-abusing black baseball player. I might even say that, unless Johnnie Cochran rolls up out of his grave in a black and white pinstriped suit, there’s no way in hell Simpson gets away with this.

I might even discuss this whole “Read a Book” madness, because I would have supported it back in my college days support the spirit behind it. G_d forbid that we actually pick up a good read from excellent authors, as there’s a plethora of hot trash that people confuse for intelligent Black literature. The fact that BET finally did something right by putting that video up for the masses is ironic in that over the last decade, it’s deteriorated into a very small snippet of what it means to be Black in this country.

I might go into how the blogosphere outside of maybe Guanabee and The Unapologetic Mexican dropped the ball as far as reporting on Elvira Arrelano, the Mexican immigrant who was quickly deported from the United States after speaking out against the government’s immigration policies in a church in a Los Angeles church. I would then react by speaking on the weird relationship with Blacks and Latinos that the outrage for the the Arrelano story wasn’t nearly as big  as the Jena 6 incidents (or in some cases, not even mentioned). There’s a lot of factors in that, but it still makes me wonder.

Then again, the first thing I noticed when I started to circle the blogosphere is the lack of blogs that at least generally fit my experience. I got it in snippets here and there, but in general, I couldn’t just find a blog that discussed a Black Latino’s life. I know enough of them, and there’s a growing faction of them in the media and such, but in the blogosphere? Not exactly.

So I’m usually focused on everything else, because I see value in discussing it all. Hmm …

jose, who has 4 artists on heavy rotation: common, talib kweli, kanye, and chuck mangione (which of these is not like the other?)