Crying Wolf on Racism in Simpson Case

By Freeman, Gregory | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 28, 1994 | Go to article overview

Crying Wolf on Racism in Simpson Case


Freeman, Gregory, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IT'S A CONSPIRACY, they say.

The whole O.J. Simpson case is a conspiracy to pull down the black man and to promote stereotypes of black males as violent people.

So say some blacks who are worried about Simpson's treatment by the news media and the legal system. Some of them, including some who held a press conference in Los Angeles last week, say that portrayals of Simpson as a jealous wife beater have reinforced stereotypes.

"You have a person who was trusted by America suddenly being called an animal," Muhammad Nassardeen, founder of an LA group called Recycling Black Dollars, was quoted as saying. "It affects how people view African-Americans."

And on black talk shows all over the country, callers wonder whether the murders were a "racist" attempt to "pull down a black hero and role model to black youth."

Come on, now.

There is not a racist behind every door. There may be some behind a few of those doors, but not every one.

Every bad thing that happens to an African-American is not the result of racism. Enough of them are, but to suggest that all are - as some folks do - is to have a fatalistic, there's-nothing-I-can-do attitude.

Too many people have this attitude - using racism as an excuse for not trying to do better in life. I've heard blacks ask, "What's the sense in going back to school to get a degree? The white man's going to keep me down anyway."

I'm not trying to assign guilt to Simpson. But I've seen nothing to show that what's happened to Simpson has been the result of racism. His problems, it seems to me, were brought on by himself.

Regarding the coverage, an argument could be made that there's been too much reporting on the case. But the job of journalists is to dig, to get the news out. And unlike Whitewater, where - at least at first - the public showed no understanding of nor interest in the matter, Americans have been fascinated with this story.

But race has hardly been mentioned in the Simpson case. The media focus on this story has been based on celebrity, not on race.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson last week complained publicly that police had briefly slapped handcuffs on Simpson and pinned his arms behind his back in full view of news cameras when he was first arrested as a suspect. …

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