Konch Magazine - OJ Questions Linger by Ishmael Reed
The U.S.: Still Hooked on OJ
  O.J.Simpson has probably made more money for corporate  interests than all of the Virginia slaves made for their kidnappers over a one hundred year period,not to mention the enhanced incomes of media lawyers whose appearance during the criminal trial brought them fame.They are allowed to judge defendants before they step into the courtroom and overrule the verdicts of juries.Jeffrey Toobin, perhaps the most powerful of these tube lawyers ,still believes that Michael Jackson was guilty.
   His book, The Run Of His Life The People v. O.J. Simpson,inspired two summer television series ‘O.J.,Made in America,” and Fox’s “The People v. O. J Simpson: American Crime Story.”Toobin’s theory of the acquittal in the criminal case is that Blacks supported O.J.Simpson because they are “incapable of recognizing reality.”*  and shouldn’t receive “a condescending pat on the head,”which must cause concern among those who believe that rubbing a Black person’s  head brings good luck.
  Regardless of their claim that they voted for acquittal on the basis of scientific evidence proffered by Barry Scheck, Toobin claims that Black jurors in the criminal case voted on the basis of race ,a line that was picked up by Kyra Phillips one of CNN’s  white commentators, who was part of an all white panel that included Toobin.They were outraged by a Las Vegas parole board’s decision to grant Simpson parole.
  One of CNN’s lawyers who represented the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson pointed to the Civil Trial, which found Simpson liable for the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson as proof that Simpson committed the crimes.What he left out was only a few Blacks were accepted by the plaintiffs lawyers.** Robert Blasier, one of Simpson’s lawyers in the civil case accused the plaintiffs lawyers of “targeting African-Americans to have them removed from this panel.”
  According to the late Johnny Cochran sixty percent of those whites who were seated on the Santa Monica jury composed of whites,mostly, believed in O.J. Simpson’s guilt before the opening arguments.One juror, a white woman, said that she voted to hold Simpson liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman because Denise Brown reminded her of her sister,Nicole Brown Simpson.
 White women commentators expressed an excitement, agitation and anger over Simpson’s parole that is rarely seen on television. When Black male celebrities are in trouble, they are able to vent their frustrations at having to remain silent about the documented cruelty they suffer at the hands of their patriarchal bosses who can make or break their careers. That’s why women at Fox News were silent for decades about the rampage of sexism committed by the late Roger Ailes, or why they haven’t held President Trump to his promise that he would sue the 11 women who have accused him of sexual assault.
 One of those outraged commentators was Chris Jansing. She’s her choice for pope was Cardinal Dolan of New York even though he was accused of covering up a pedophile scandal while Minneapolis Bishop.***
 Obviously Black male celebrities in trouble is a fascinating topic for millions. The O.J.trial saved CNN.
  I sought to probe the reasons for this fascination in my graphics novel Juice!,which I began shortly after hearing about the murders.I was especially interested in the Collective Guilt aspect of the O.J. phenomenon,the punishment of Blacks in general for the alleged actions of one. I also explored  one of the reasons that products that flow from the acquittal of Simpson are attractive. To many they are seen as a way of embarrassing Blacks or paying them back for some imagined slight like breathing.I followed the trial for years and included updates in my novel.
  My agent said that no mainstream publisher would accept the book because everybody believed that he was guilty, even though the novel includes characters who believe in his guilt and characters who don’t. She was right.
  It was finally published by Sir John O’Brien’s Dalkey Archives, a publisher that has received a National Book Award for publishing.
 Though the book received a positive review in the Times Literary Supplement ,syndicated reviews in the United States were hostile. One reviewer said that I had “gone too far,” an indication of restrictions placed upon Black writers in the United States whether they be male or female. Indeed, it was said by the excellent Trinidadian American novelist Elizabeth Nunez that the kind of book that publishers demand from Blacks are “girl friend books.” ****
  Apparently someone at ESPN read the novel and so I was interviewed for ESPN’s  “O.J.: Made in America” a pro prosecution effort produced Ezra Edelman.I told him about my lingering questions about the evidence as presented by the Los Angeles Police department and the
prosecutors.ESPN’s series followed the Race triumphed Justice line set by Jeffrey Toobin,yet I referred to three of the leading forensic experts Henry Lee, Michael Baden, and Cyril Wecht whose questions about the evidence haven’t been answered sufficiently. They couldn’t be accused of playing the Race Card. One is Chinese-American and the other two are white.My interview wasn’t used.
   Moreover, the criminal jury that late night comedians and television lawyers continue to cast as Black, included two white and one Hispanic juror.The Hispanic juror said recently that he voted for acquittal because he was convinced that the police planted evidence. Of course, Jeffrey Toobin, who was raised in a wealthy household, and who was Harvard trained and Harvard married, doesn’t believe that the police plant evidence and has said that the idea of prosecutorial misconduct is ridiculous. Maybe he’s the one who is divorced from reality.
 With the decline of the great Black newspapers, another casualty of assimilation,Blacks have lost  access to  points-of-view that might oppose those of the mainstream media.As it stands now, people ,who have never been profiled racially, or red-lined out of home ownership, define the Black experience,whether it be in publishing, television, or the stage.
   Social media has begun to fill in the gap so that Blacks can find “friends” who share their observations.
   Finally, one of the reviewers of Juice ! said that my novel was old news. Really?
   The great lawyer Howard Moore,Jr.who won the case against the State of California that wanted to convict Angela Davis wrote on Facebook:
“Can you believe it: the major TV networks interrupted regularly scheduled programming to air O. J.'s parole hearing? They don't do that for Sirhan Sirhan (murdered Bobby Kennedy) and Charles Manson (Sharon Tate and others to incite race war). O. J.’s got to be good for business.

Can't get enough of O. J.”

Ishmael Reed, his novel, Conjugating Hindi will be published in February. A new play, “Life Among The Aryans” will premiere at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in on Nov.2

1 -The Run Of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin pg.438,paperback,Touchstone,New York,1996
2 -CNN - Majority white jury selected in Simpson civil trial - Oct. 17, 1996