They say the mark of an enlightened man is that he can objectively consider new information, rethink his position and admit when he’s wrong. Today I am here to admit to white America that I was totally wrong about Orenthal James Simpson. (I know using “white” as an adjective to describe “America” is redundant, but I just want to make sure I acknowledge the Caucasians who “built this country” because—aside from history books, movies, television, literature, the national narrative and Donald Trump rallies—you rarely receive the credit you are due. Big ups to you.)
On Sunday night, Fox News reignited the ire of white people who are still dumbstruck that a man could get away with an obvious murder when the decidedly unfair and mentally imbalanced network aired a decade-old interview of O.J. Simpson appearing to confess, in which he laid out how he might have, theoretically, murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.
White America, I am now on your side. I couldn’t have been more wrong. You were right all along.
White people hate O.J. For them, he is evil incarnate. After all, if a black man could get away with killing a white woman in a wealthy neighborhood, how could anyone feel safe?
I can’t fathom how black-hearted I must have seemed back in 1995 when I applauded the O.J. verdict. I now realize how upset you guys must have felt to see a cold-blooded killer like O.J. get set free. Well, actually, I forgot that I felt those same emotions after the George Zimmerman acquittal.
And the Betty Shelby trial.
And the Philando Castile decision.
And the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.
And the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez.
OK, I also now realize that saying “I now realize” was probably a bad choice of words.
Let’s be clear: I always believed O.J. did that shit.
When black people celebrated the O.J. acquittal in 1995, it was not because we thought he was a symbol of innocence and purity who was preparing to buy NBC. It was because the O.J. case exposed the bigotry that permeates the entire justice system in America and how—despite his celebrity, wealth and resources—a black man could be deemed guilty simply from an outpouring of alabaster outrage.
We believed that he was a murderer and we believed the Los Angeles Police Department tried to frame him by tampering with evidence. Both things were probably true. Given black people’s relationship with cops, the then-recent Rodney King verdict, the criminal-justice system and the legacy of black men who were lynched for breathing in the direction of white women, I’m sure you could understand why we celebrated the O.J. verdict. We weren’t on O.J.’s team. We were Team JohnnyCochran. We were #TeamFuckTheLAPD.
But before Fox’s O.J. special, I had never seen someone give a detailed explanation of how they murdered an innocent human being with a straight face and showing no remorse. To be fair, I missed George Zimmerman’s interview on Hannity. I also forgot to DVR his appearance on CNN. Oh, and that Daily Beast article where he said that Trayvon Martin’s parents “didn’t raise him right” and treated him “like a dog without a leash”—I never got around to reading it. So this was my first time witnessing something like this.
But now that O.J. has hypothetically confessed on national television, I understand how you feel that our system shouldn’t let an unrepentant killer walk around white women all willy-nilly. He may have been found not guilty in a court of law, but that doesn’t mean he is innocent. What if he’s triggered by a different pair of thin upper lips or oblate buttocks and goes on another killing spree? We just watched him confess!
I felt the same way about Betty Shelby, who admitted on 60 Minutes that Terence Crutcher was not belligerent and not aggressive and had his hands up with his back to her when she shot him in Tulsa, Okla. Shelby is now back patrolling the streets as a law enforcement officer. So is Daniel Pantaleo, the man whose arms just happened to be wrapped around Eric Garner’s throat in a loving caress when Garner died on a New York City sidewalk.
I haven’t heard any white outrage about the potential of someone becoming a victim of those two not-convicted killers, but I’m sure white people are equally concerned. I probably missed it because I was still giddy from dancing at the secret, black O.J. victory party. Pantaleo and Shelby are still paid to carry guns and “uphold the law.”
But O.J., though.
I recognize that my change of heart may be long overdue, but you know what they say: Better late than never. (Actually, I don’t know if “they” really say that, but I hope the teller says it with a smile on that glorious day when I’m at the bank filling out the slip to deposit my reparations check.)
Because I now identify with your outrage after watching a murderer hypothetically confess to a theoretical crime for which he will never be punished. When I see you at the Black Lives Matter march the next time a police officer murders an innocent person of color and gets away with it, I will be sure to apologize to your face. Or maybe I’ll do it when I see you applauding NFL players who are kneeling in hopes that it will bring attention to the kinds of injustice that you are surprisingly so upset about.
After all, if you’re mad at O.J., you should be mad at anyone who kills an innocent, unarmed, defenseless human being and gets away with it. If Fox News viewers are incensed about O.J., then the only way they couldn’t be equally infuriated about the disproportionate killing of innocent black people by obviously guilty police officers is if they were racist. But they are not, because all lives matter …