Skip to main content

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend, or Why OJ Won't Have Black Support

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Ah, that wonderful saying that describes the geopolitical terrain of the Middle East as well as, IMHO, support from the black community for O.J. Simpson. Looks like O.J. is back at it again, going to trial again, without benefit of a Johnnie Cochran, or a Willie Gary, John Burris (at least Barry Bonds had the good sense to hire Burris), or Johnny Griffin for that matter. And this time, I doubt that black folks will utter a peep about "squeezing The Juice" because, unlike last time, there is no common enemy (read: LAPD).

Mind you, I grew up with a terrible crush on O.J. Simpson. I adored his swagger, his undeniable excellence, you name it. I even adored his first wife Marguerite because I thought, in my warped teenage logic, that if a black woman like Marguerite Simpson could get a man like O.J., she had to be worthy of emulation.

Then I grew up. And, after law school, the "Trial of the Century" happened.

If anyone of the prosecution's team members had spent any significant time in a black barber shop or beauty shop, they would have known what they were up against. IMHO, for most black folks, the issue wasn't O.J. -- by that time, he had rendered himself irrelevant to most of us -- it was about the LAPD and its long, tired history of abuse in the black community. Even more, for black Angelinos and black lawyers, it was about having our knight in shining armor, Johnnie Cochran, sticking it to the LAPD, especially after Mark Fuhrman substantiated what many black Angelinos had experienced or suspected but could not prove: That the LAPD was downright racist. I knew more than a few black men who admitted to me (but would not admit to anyone white) that they thought O.J. was guilty as sin, but that this trial wasn't about O.J. anyway -- it was about The System. That if The System could get away with railroading O.J., who had money and the best lawyers it could buy at his disposal, then your average brother on an L.A. street was more doomed than we knew.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Many black attorneys cheered Cochran, not O.J. (heck, for criminal defense attorneys, guilt or innocence is not the issue; if it were, there'd be far fewer of them. It's about keeping the system straight), because his reputation had preceded him. Long before he represented Michael Jackson or O.J. Simpson, Cochran was known for his successes in going up against the LAPD at trial, his intense preparation, the respect he showed for everyone in the courtroom regardless of status, and the many cases he took pro bono on behalf of black folks. That part of his life seemed to get lost in the klieg lights that were part and parcel of the "Trial of the Century." In fact, the work of which he was most proud involved neither Michael Jackson nor O.J. Simpson: It was his representation of Geronimo Pratt. But Cochran had long established his bona fides with the black community and his willingness to stand up to injustice long before troubled black celebrities came calling.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

So, in 1995, when I was standing in the lobby of a San Francisco Fortune 500 company while the reading of the verdict played on a security guard's black and white TV, I saw what many black folks saw: That justice had been served -- not in the acquittal of O.J., because O.J. was only a symbol -- but in the implicit conviction of the LAPD at the hands of one of the most skilled trial attorneys, black, white or whatever, in the nation, who had been fighting many good fights for blacks all along. Even when one of the black female jurors stated that "this case wasn't about domestic violence," in referring to O.J.'s history of domestic violence, I disagreed (since prior bad acts are admissible to prove guilt) but thought, hey, if the prosecution didn't connect the dots for the jury, that's not the defense's problem. For many black Angelinos, I would imagine that verdict was the equivalent of dedicating Johnnie Guitar Watson's "It's A Real Mutha For Ya" over the radio to the LAPD. Or rather, NWA's "F*&^ the Police."

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

This time around, there is no common enemy such as the LAPD, no knight in shining armor such as Johnnie Cochran, and no more love for O.J. by most black folks than there was at his first trial. At this point, he symbolizes little more than what the old folks call "foolishness." He'll have to go it alone. I don't see him getting out of this one.

But, man, do I miss Johnnie Cochran.


Popular posts from this blog

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…

My Prayer and Mantra for 2017 -- Do Not Waste Time on People and Things That Don't Matter

In this era of fake news, fake political candidates, and fake people all around, my prayer and mantra for 2017 is simple:  Do not waste time on people and things that don't matter.

In 2016, I spent too much time and money on things and people who didn't matter.  I allowed myself to become distracted by stuff that, for me and Black Man Not Blogging, didn't really matter for our happiness.  These distractions not only didn't improve the quality of our life together; they decreased it with additional and unnecessary stress.

The good news is that, for the most part, we're okay.  Yeah, Trump and his ilk really suck, but instead of a lot of hand wringing and commiserating, I'm going to do the one thing my late mother She Who  Is Exalted (SWIE) did better than anyone I know:  Play the hand you've been dealt.  My mother was a black female without a college education and with six kids, so playing the hand she was dealt was her survival skill.  Now it will be mine.