Why Are They Famous?
OJ Simpson, Please Go Away
By Jabulani Leffall
Sep 28, 2007

In an international breaking news story that set the world of racial politics ablaze, Bill O'Reilly, dutiful and impartial commentator that he is, made a shocking revelation: Black people in America have had a “tough go of it,” but can think for themselves. Gasp!

What are you saying, Bill? Are you saying that we don’t need Jesse “break me off a piece of that racial entitlement” Jackson or Al “I need a curling iron for my perm” Sharpton to guide our thoughts? What do you mean our culture isn’t dominated by Twista, Snoop Dogg and Ludacris? Say it ain’t so. 

If it is so, it would mean that some black people think Orenthal James Simpson is – perish the thought – actually guilty of a double murder he was acquitted for because of a botched prosecution. Gadzooks, they might actually think OJ is not a symbol of the still-complex racial dynamics in our country but really just a jerk who can’t take rejection, can’t take not being told he’s the man, can’t take obscurity, can’t stand the fact that when white people see him running through an airport now, they call the police on his ass. They dial a nine and two ones just like they would if some other minstrel in a suit was running through an airport for no reason. 

OJ’s latest travails caused an uproar at Harold’s Chicken on Chicago’s Southside and at Sylvia’s Soul Food in Harlem, both sites of a simulcast on C-SPAN and BET of a race sub-committee meeting. I helped preside over the confab sitting at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch. No, not the restaurant, See, I took my laptop, my watermelon and my “red-flavor” Kool-Aid, which was sloshing comfortably in my diamond-encrusted pimp cup, out to my actual Aunt Kizzie’s back porch and moderated the discussion.  

When OJ came up in the discourse, as sergeant-at-arms, I was forced to bang the gavel - really just an ox-tail bone - thus ending the meeting of the unilateral, one-dimensional, monolithic committee of pan-African opinion. Because of OJ, I fear we may even have to disband altogether.  

As Black Americans, Negroes, African Americans or whatever patronizing liberal census takers are choosing to call us these days, we definitely would like OJ to go away. Go away, we say, because he single-handedly nullifies the advances we’ve made as a people in civil rights, and in civic life as individuals.

He forces, the we-move-as-one talk into our conversation on race. Newsflash, we as black people don’t move as one, both to our advantage most of the time and to our detriment sometimes. Collectively though, we want him to go away because he is also a justification for the throwbacks who still believe that all we want to do is run, sweat, shimmy and do depraved things to white women, to play out our bestial fantasies or to stake a passive-aggressive claim on white America.  

Shame on you, “O-Jizzle,” for still being under suspicion of having killed that woman after you married her. Some racists can’t figure out which one is worse: marrying her or being a suspect in her murder.  Shame on you for playing golf as a way to “cope” with the brutal slaying of the mother of your children. Shame on you, Othello, for being in a jealous fit of rage on tape, getting acquitted and then looking for the “killers” at the bottom of a Florida hot tub.  Shame on you - and no one’s going to say this except me - for continuing to parade around with delusional and obviously attention-starved Florida blondies as if you’re thumbing your nose at the establishment.

Shame on you for making stupid “rap” video tapes. And by the way, thanks for this latest debacle where you allegedly kicked in the door, wavin’ the .44 like Biggie Smalls. Now that’s a “rap” tape. Get it?  Thanks a lot, “Juice!”  

Indeed, OJ is the full yin and the yang of our fragile perception of racial harmony or disharmony in this country. He is an Oreo cookie to be sure, a literal black and white cipher holding a mirror to our checkered past. We hate what we see; that’s why OJ is a pariah. Oh yeah, and then the fact that he may have killed two people and then 13 years later, robbed some cats, and then put on a tuxedo and said, “I don’t know nuthin,” also makes him persona non grata. But for the same reason, he is persona grata for the media, which can’t get enough of him and enough of manipulating our fragile sensibilities. Greta Van Susteren, Star Jones, O’Reilly, conservative shock jocks everywhere, Al Cowlings and the Bronco model of Ford can all thank OJ for making them household names. 

So why does OJ unmask our pride/shame as black people and unleash our fears as white people and unfetter our ignominy as a nation? Well, he represents the promise of America for a well-spoken, clean-cut, affable black man. He also exemplifies the nightmare of America for a black man whose body was used for 20 years as glittering chattel in the coliseum of gladiators and Trojans and Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my.  

When football ends and life begins, this becomes a nightmare for him, with the lights off and the cheers died down. Now he’s just a smiling coon, literally giving “color” commentary at a football game. It’s just him and his inner rage, a sense of entitlement mixed with a sense of resentment for having to shuffle for well-meaning, as well as exploitative, whites all those years. Then the trial of the century comes and he beats the charge.

Now it’s a nightmare for the white people who anointed him “The Juice,” cast him as a Sambo in spoof movies with Leslie Nielsen and rubbed shoulders uncomfortably with him and his blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife. All the while they were ignoring the domestic abuse cases and the early signs of aggression because he was OJ. They didn’t see (or chose to overlook) OJ’s inner Tupac. Moreover, OJ masked his boiling “Bigger Thomas,” with Native Son characteristics and fury.

When it was too late and Nicole Brown Simpson was dead, they were shocked and appalled. When prosecutors blew the case like a trumpet and he got off, they were outraged. Some white Americans were then further chagrined by the reaction of black people who in reality could have cared less if it was OJ or O-Dog. 

But he’s still mad.  The, If I Did It controversy is proof that he’s still mad. He still thinks we – media, courts, America - owe him something, took something from him and that’s why he was in that seedy Vegas hotel room allegedly making threats, waving guns. He wants his old life back as a non-racial commodity, dubbed simply “Juice.”  

On the larger landscape, using OJ as a symbol of racial injustice or a symbol of retribution for that racial injustice only sets us back as a race – the human race. In many ways it’s OJ’s fault that the civil rights movement is a mockery of its former self, why the NAACP is a joke in asking for leniency for Mike Vick.

And OJ is also why we have tens of thousands of people in a backwater town in Jena, Louisiana, in essence defending violence perpetrated on one kid by six kids while holding it up as a larger symbol of racial injustice. Alright, black folks, don’t taser me, bros. I’m just speaking on OJ and Jena from my personal perspective.

OJ is really just a furious jock and Jena was really a schoolyard brawl handled horribly by the principal of the school and the backward-assed law enforcement and other municipal authority figures. OJ sure isn’t Emmitt Till  and the “Jena 6,” as they’ve been called, aren’t exactly the Scottsboro Boys or the Panther 21 . In fact, they’re not even close. It’s OJ’s fault. OJ and the Jena 6 case dilutes the cause when there are so many more pressing cases of brutal and overt racism, rather than just racial bias, which Jena clearly was, or outright stupidity and rage, as is the case with OJ. Thanks, OJ. We make everything about race now because of you.  

Now because of you, OJ, O’Reilly can believe he’s doing blacks a favor by making “astute” observations that not everybody comes into a diner and says: "mothaf&@ bring me some Ice Tea!" In fact, black people eat like everyone else, O’Reilly posits. He wouldn’t have to make such well-meaning but ill-conceived diatribes if it weren’t for the likes of O-to-the-jizzay, S-to-the-impson. He would abstain from such talk were it not for Simp-daddy’s recent arrest on suspicion of armed robbery.  

Maybe O’Reilly and other conservative d-bags, like the over-compensating Larry Elder, would shut up with their “enlightened” views on racial sociology if OJ wasn’t on audio sounding like a bit player in a gangster rap album skit: “You think you can steal my shit, mothaf&!**a!"  Wow, OJ! Really?  

Do everyone a favor, Mr. Simpson. Please don’t write a book called: Alright Ya’ll, I Did It, No, I Know Who Did It, No, Wait, Yeah, I Did Do It.  And if you get acquitted on this latest charge, please just buy a mansion in a third world country and be a political/pop culture refugee. If you care about black people in this country at all, disappear. 

You owe it to your race – the human race.  

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