Where Were You When?


The assassination of JFK. The Berlin Wall. 9/11. The first time a Bieber record went on sale. There are things throughout history we remember,  and some of you have never even heard the Biebs croon a pop hit. In fact, an entire generation of Americans cannot tell you where they were when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

I remember where I was. I was in the library of my small, all-white private school. The entire high school was crowded into the back room where there was a tiny tv. They may have wired it for cable just for this event. Just kidding. Anyway, we were riveted. We had very strong opinions, even as teenagers, about the verdict. We all knew he was guilty, and most, if not all, of us, had  heard our parents express  their outrage or opinions on how the trial went and how it would end.

Today I closed the page on Without a Doubt, written by Marcia Clark, someone else an entire generation will not remember. She was the lead prosecutor of the case. And she got squashed. I mean, absolutely pounded by what folks dubbedThe Dream Team,” headed by none  other than Johnnie Cochran. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? There’s a Cochran law firm. And I bet when you read the words “Rodney King” you start to get an idea of what we’re talking about.

After all, Rodney King was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department cops. Their acquittal is said to have started the LA Race Riots of the 90s, a truly brutal time in that city’s history. There must be a billion rap songs about it out there. He was, also, famous for his hair. What happened to Rodney King, despite what he may or may not have done illegally, was so wrong it’s sickening. And when O.J. stepped up to bat, an almost all-black jury gave him the go-ahead. Get-out-of-jail-free card. He walked.

He walked despite overwhelming physical evidence that he was guilty of the murder of Nicole Brown  Simpson and Ron Goldman. The brutal murders of these two people. And he had a recorded history of domestic violence with Nicole, whom he had two children with. There are those who believe that the O.J. verdict was direct retaliation for Rodney King. I happen to think it’s a very distinct possibility.

Here is some information Clark wrote about in her book that was published in 1997:

“The People lost this case not because we introduced too much evidence or too little evidence. We lost because American justice is distorted by race. We lost because American justice is corrupted by celebrity. Any lawyer willing to exploit those weaknesses can convince a jury predisposed to acquittal of just about anything…[A] handful of clever, expensive attorneys were allowed to manipulate the system by invoking the wholly irrelevant, yet provocative issue of racism…You took a jury itching to avenge Rodney King and incited it to nullify the law.”

Get on it Marcia.

Just so you know, O.J. did not fare so well in the civil trial. He was found guilty.

I have dealt with racism my whole life. In fact, we all have. You don’t have to be Southern, from Compton, or a resident of 8 Mile to know what I’m talking about. The fear of things we don’t understand is the human condition, and racism is born out of that fear. It is not mutually exclusive to whites. It is something I dislike but understand from the white perspective and sympathize with from t he black perspective. I’m not one of those white people who says I can totally put myself in the place of a black person, but anyone with half a brain can imagine what it would feel like to be brutalized or treated unfairly due to race. Oh, wait a minute…I actually can. I once was told I wouldn’t get a job in my field because I wasn’t in the right racial category the company was hiring from. Yep. I never want to work in my field again. I just don’t have the heart.

I have wondered how I would ever write about race. It’s an issue that polarizes just about everyone – at least how they respond publicly to it. Not everyone has looked at it from all the angles.I think I have. I have never been a slave. As you can see from my avatar, I’m white. So that explains it. I’ve never been black in the 60s. But slavery ended a long time ago, and blacks have the same rights we have. So I say let bygones be bygones.

I’m not simplifying the issue of race; I’m giving the only option that lets us move past race issues and into relationship with each other. I have no idea if that will ever happen on a large scale but we all know it happens every day, one-on-one. I don’t look at a black person as a “black person” – I look at them as if they’re a person, and I expect the same thing in return. I hate the term “race card” but the truth is that sometimes race does determine how a person is treated. You don’t have to use the N-word to be a racist. Harboring hateful ideas in your mind determines your character, even if you’re the only one who knows about it. Jumping on a bandwagon of unwarranted animosity is the same thing, but because it’s what a lot of other people are doing, it’s considered ok.

The perfect example works for both blacks and whites: the dislike of the President of the United States simply because he is black, or the support he has received simply because he is black. There are a lot of white people who voted for him because they felt it would somehow balance the scales, in my opinion. That’s just plain stupid, as is disrespecting the leader of our land due to color and not even trying to see his good points. I’m not a fan, by the way, of his presidency. However, I do see sides of his personal character that I  like (as well as those I don’t.) This is only possible if you strip your consciousness of unnecessary hindrances to understanding and appreciation.

I am not naive enough to think that one day,  we will all live in peace and harmony – at least, not until the Lord  comes back and we all get to heaven. Until then, we have to do the best with what we have. So who am  I appealing to? The white family who raises its children to respect those of all colors? No. The black family who does the same? Obviously not. I am appealing to those of any and all colors who raise their children and live their lives hating  the color of another person’s skin. To you I say: get over yourself. God loves variety or He wouldn’t have painted us so beautifully in the first place. And I know y’all don’t think you’ve got something over on Him, right?

It takes a strong mind, as well as an exceptional character (in my opinion) to give credence to different viewpoints, and at least to think about them. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I do not have a strong mind nor an exceptional character. I am extremely opinionated, impatient, and strong-willed to the point of absurdity. But even I have trained myself to think through things that really bother me and consider all the different facets or perspectives. And when I can’t see any but my own, I always get the thoughts of someone else on board, which has taught me a lot. You wouldn’t even believe it.

A good example of this, I think, is the opinion a lot of whites have that Latinos are ruining the healthcare system.  Let’s say you believe this to be true. I can give you that, because there are a lot of people out there who would agree with you. Can you at least understand where the desire to flee to America comes from? Imagine living in a country that can’t provide you clean drinking water and you have children. Wouldn’t you be tempted to become a fugitive to give them a better life? Imagine living in a country where drug cartels run everything. The absolute danger you would live in, day in and day out. If you would  not even contemplate moving your children to safety, you have issues other than racial bias and you should probably explore that.

And let us not forget all the white people who got off easily: Lyndsay Lohan. Casey Anthony. Robert Blake. I once wrote a blog post about cosmic fame and how it totally distorts our perspective on reality. Celebrity status definitely played a role in the O.J. Simpson verdict, as well as these previously mentioned cases above. Casey Anthony wasn’t a star; she was a figure made famous over the Internet and on tv. It’s ridiculous the role fame plays in courtroom antics.

So the next time a racial thought runs through your mind, try seeing it from another point of view. When you see a white person living in a nice house, with nice things, instead of saying, or thinking to yourself, how entitled  he or she must feel, try to think about the possibility that he or she worked really hard to get those things. That person may even give some of it back to people like you! When you see a black person charged with a crime, try to remember that a lot of people grow up poor and don’t have the emotional and physical blessings of others,and that can lead to a lot of problems you, in your upper-class suburban bubble, will never understand. When you see an illegal alien sitting outside a gas station trying to find work for the day, put yourself in his place. What if you lived in a foreign country so you and your family could have a better life, and you couldn’t speak the language, understand others, and get a decent job?

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One thought on “Where Were You When?

  1. Pingback: Where Were You When? « momrpkf

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