OJ is Being Released From Prison, But Should Black Folk Really Care?

Reggie Fullwood

Let me just jump right on my soapbox and start this sermon off being direct as possible.

I don’t give a darn if OJ Simpson is freed or not. Last week, the big talk was about Simpson’s parole hearing. In fact, the OJ drama was broadcast live on TV screens across America – surprise, surprise.

Great news for the Juice, the Nevada parole board decided Simpson should be freed after the former football star apologized for his role in a 2007 armed robbery. Apparently, OJ has been a model prisoner and convinced the board that he would continue his Boy Scout ways once released.
Blah, blah, blah! Good for OJ, but I really could care less.

And most African Americans should not care either. If you watched any of the dozen or so documentaries about Simpson and this rise and fall from grace you saw a recurring theme – OJ did not want to be considered as a black man and did not want to be around African Americans unless you had achieved a certain social status.

Here’s an example of how bad it was. According to one documentary, as the police arrested Simpson and drove him from his Brentwood, California home he said, “What are all of these Niggas doing in Brentwood.”

Ummmmm… you mean the saw black folk that came to Brentwood to show you their support? Do you mean the same black people who idolized you as an exceptional athlete, businessman and role model?

And that’s just one example. But unfortunately OJ is not unique. There are many African Americans that become successful and decide to forget where they came from and only associate with a certain class of people. Hey, I get it – growing up poor is hard. It drove me to go to college and try to make something out of myself.

But it’s one thing to focus on your career or family and not go back or give back to your old community, but it’s a totally different thing to have disdain or self-hate for your own race.

Lawna Elayn Tapper wrote an article in The New Black Magazine, and asked, “Why is it that everyone could see Michael’s beauty except him?”
So many dark-skinned folks and not just African Americans hate the color of their skin. Has any one seen the former baseball star Sammy Sosa of late? He went from a brown skinned Latino to a light skinned Michael Jackson wanna be.

Too bad these people who hate their own skin don’t understand the contributions that Africans have made to the world. Maybe we should match self hate with education. Someone should let those who hate their black skin know that Africans were designing pyramids, conducting brain surgeries in Egypt and creating Algebra centuries before the modern civilizations in the East.

So many blacks that become stars totally disregard their heritage and culture – you know like Raven Symone and Tiger Woods. Two examples of mixed race “stars” that don’t want to be identified as being African Americans as if there’s something wrong with being black.
Raven Symone’s made her decree during an Oprah interview a couple years ago.

Raven, who is openly gay, explained to Oprah that she rejects the notion of labels completely in all areas of her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she says. “I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American.”

Now she told this to a lady who is really proud of her heritage and is really in tune to the challenges faced by blacks throughout the years. I was surprised that Oprah didn’t stop filming and take her belt off.

Raven went on to expound, “I don’t label myself,” she reiterates. “I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian, I connect with Asian, I connect with Black, I connect with Indian, I connect with each culture.”

Tiger made similar comments to a reporter years ago. In an article in the Chicago Sun-Times back in 1995, Woods basically said that he’s not an African American and is one-quarter Black, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter Chinese, one-eighth American Indian and one-eighth White.”

Who does that? Not to take any thing away from Woods or even Symone’s diverse heritage, but being called black doesn’t exclude you from being part Thai or Native American.

But back to OJ, I have just convinced myself that I should care if a black man is released from prison and has a chance to reunite with his family. Besides people can change and Simpson shouldn’t be solely judged on this past views and actions.

Congratulations to OJ. I believe that anyone can change especially after nine years in prison.

As Stephen Covey once said, “Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.”

Signing off from Northwest Jacksonville,
Reggie Fullwood

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