Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Time to Look at Where Races Agree

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

It's Time to Look at Where Races Agree

Article excerpt

IT'S TIME TO put O.J. Simpson behind us.

Probably more than any other in recent years - and that would include the Rodney King case - the Simpson matter has pulled blacks and whites apart. It has served only to exacerbate our racial problems, to divide us even more.

More ominously, it's brought out the worst in us. The Simpson case has made too many of us willing to stereotype those of another race. It's caused people to make blanket assumptions of others that they might not have otherwise. I was amazed, for instance, when I heard a white radio talk show host speculate that blacks would riot if Simpson lost the civil case. I shook my head as I heard that one. This nation has seen its share of riots, certainly. Usually they've been over some perceived injustice that those who've rioted have assumed could have just as easily have happened to the rioters. The Simpson case isn't one of those. A riot? Over Simpson? Tell me another one. Yes, many blacks sided with Simpson in both cases, and many whites opposed him. Not surprisingly, many people based their decisions on their own experiences with the legal system. I'm reminded of Dick Gregory's old joke, that when whites go to court, they find justice; when blacks go to court they find "just us." Many of us can remember the vivid pictures, only a generation ago, of police doing all they can to harm blacks with police dogs and fire hoses. Hopefully we'll never see those days again, but they come to mind when we learn of cops like Mark Fuhrman, racists who can unfairly and singlehandedly taint all the good work that police departments do. While I think cops like Fuhrman are in the minority these days, the damage that they can do makes them dangerous for police departments to keep around. The fact is, whites and blacks have different experiences with the legal system and look at it differently. Neither side is wrong nor right. Because of that, it makes many of us look at each other and wonder how we could be so far apart on this. We all carry a certain amount of baggage with us, and the Simpson case has done little more than add additional weight to that baggage. What we really need now is to lighten our load. …

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