• October 3, 1995. The OJ Verdict...Through a Country Girl's Eyes.

    This is my journal entry from October 3, 1995. I was a grad student at the California State University at Long Beach. We ALL had endured the long murder trial of OJ Simpson and finally, on this day, it was over. I wrote about it, primarily because I was afraid. I was curious. There were talks of riots and violent breakout in the event OJ was found guilty. It would have been idle rumor had it not been for the Rodney King verdict, resulting in the LA Riots. I was some country girl from Virginia. I had been living in southern California for a year and a half by this point and felt nervous and excited all day.

    October 3 1995
    Long Beach, CA
    9:00 AM

    I'm sitting at a bus stop...waiting for a friend. Not the bus. If you see someone sitting at a bus stop, one can assume you are waiting for the bus. No one needs to know I'm not waiting for a bus...I'm actually waiting for a friend. This little girl just walked by and asked me what I was waiting for. I'm sitting out here...waiting for Aimée...minding my own business...when this girl, no more than 7...8, asked me what am I waiting for. Actually it was what am I waitin' ON? I told her and she kept on walkin'. I don't know why this matters to me...except...this child intuitively KNEW I wasn't waiting for the bus...that something else was happening and asked me...point blank just asked me. When I told her I was waiting for a friend, it simply didn't matter anymore and she kept walking. Did the answer even matter? Was it more important that she asked...to know my business? Do we tell more than we think without saying as much? We are strange and funny creatures.

    I just realized that the "trial of the century" as it has been called, will end today at 10am...1 hour from now...and I did not make one mention of it in my journal until now. It's been on SO much...everyday...all day...who will forget? Why write it down? But today it's over. Today the answer IS the thing. The verdict goes down today and the world is watching. I guess the truth of the matter is, in my opinion, the trial just did not phase me enough to write about it. I just don't care to write about the sensationalism of this thing. Everything's about OJ. What about Nicole Brown or Ronald Goldman? Don't get me wrong, I'm praying for the brother but the reality of it all is two people are dead. Their bodies are heavily decayed by this point and the world has forgotten them. I truly do not believe OJ did this crime. I do not believe this man whom everyone adored would be cruel or angry enough to leave his children motherless. His children, young people, no longer have a mother in their lives. That's some serious shit. If OJ did do this, it would mean he has no love or consideration for his family because not only would spend the rest of his life in jail. That would be a heartless man. But then again this could all be wrong. OJ could be a cold, selfish person...please God, no. He's meant a great deal to the Black people of this country. He shouldn't have tried to act but he was truly loved as an athlete. We'll just have to wait and see. OJ, the world is watching. May God be with you.

    October 3, 1995
    11:00 pm

    Today is...was...an incredible day! Incredible as in remarkable. Not good. Not bad. Just incredible. OJ Simpson was found not guilty! I sat in the student union and watched with a sea of Black and Latino students the long anticipated verdict of the Simpson trial. The student union is in the middle of campus. Come 10am, it was packed with what felt like every one of its 30,000 students. I'm from Virginia and I attended James Madison University...smaller school with fewer Blacks and I don't remember any Latinos...but this is Long Beach! It's a different world sho nuff! There are White students here and they too were in the student union...but on the other side of the main floor. The main floor of the union resembled a segregated hall in the Jim Crow south. Two large screen televisions were on, broadcasting the news coverage leading up to the verdict. Finally...the announcement begins. Everyone quiets. It seems wildly IMPOSSIBLE to believe that that many people could be so uniformly quiet at one time. I almost missed the very beginning of the reading verdict for noticing how eerily quiet it was in this room. This room was America...and it scared me. Whites on one side. Coloreds on the other. You watch your tv. We watch ours. The same thing were on the screens...but we saw two different outcomes. Nothing depicted this more than the moment we ALL heard, "Not Guilty". In an instant, we went from chilling silence to deafening roar. The Blacks/Latinos were all cheering and the Whites gasped in disbelief.

    I remember looking over at the other side of the room, neither cheering nor sad, wondering what was on trial today. Were we REALLY celebrating OJ's verdict or were we, all us 20 something's, somehow celebrating what eluded our grandparents and their parents: payback. Wow...I wrote that. Well, shit, it's my journal...who am I writing for? I don't know many Black people, young Black people, who identify OJ as a Black man really. He wasn't Black to us UNTIL this trial. Then he was the Black man who was with a White woman. We have Jordan. We have Griffey, Jr. We have Bo. We have Tyson. We have so many athletic "heroes" that OJ was that dude who acted in goofy movies and as a result of getting caught up with a White woman, here we are. So why did we cheer like we won something? Like it was personal? Like it was justice? The only way I can explain it, even to myself, is it was in our DNA to cheer today...for a system that had forgotten us. We cheered a verdict for Emmit Till. We cheered a verdict for Rodney King. For so many who had been wronged by "the system". I don't think any of us care a damn for OJ. I don't even think all the Blacks/Latinos in the room even believed he was innocent. But the system gave us one today. And that celebration still hurt. I have a sick feeling we celebrated 'payback' today. And as sadly, a smile still crept over my face as I left the union.

    I walked towards the theater building. I'm the only Black in my grad program. I'm also the youngest. I walked into class. It started late. We decided not to hold class but wanted to talk about the verdict. I wasn't in the mood to BE Black America or even SPEAK on the matter at all. While I am the only Black in the program, Armando Duran is the sole Latino, and God bless him, as SOON as the eyes began to turn to me for my opinion on it all, Armando rushed in, all out of breath, and said, "Sorry I'm late but they're rioting in the Pacific Palisades." The entire room erupted in laughter! I laughed so hard, tears started to roll. I finally had a release too.

    I'm afraid we'll never know who actually killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman but I pray OJ stands by his children and gives a part if not all of himself to finding out who did the murders. I'm truly not able to believe he did this to his family. History. I only wonder what would this town be like right now if OJ was found guilty. Would there have been a riot? Would we care THAT much? Would we respond to the verdict against OJ or against us and our history vs. "the system"? I've questioned what effect a 'not guilty' verdict would have meant had been predominately White? Would it seem that much more vaild? Vaild at all? Why am I asking "What if"?

    Not guilty. It is what it is.

    Me in 1995. Long Beach, California

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    1. LOL@J.R. Isn't it funny what time & perspective shows you?! I don't know if I ever believed he was innocent, but certainly the moment was bigger than than the man.

      @Claudia Thank you for your encouragement. I've gotten so sucked into the Facebook machine that I left this tool swingin' in the wind. No longer... ;-)


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