Racism And The O.J. Simpson Trial Term Paper

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Do serial killers become more of a threat to society if they are African Americans? Is a murder less vicious if it was done by a White person? Do you think that Orenthal James Simpson would have been accused of a lesser crime if he was White?

Today s society is not one that is racially balanced, but I feel fairly confident that murder is still murder no matter whom it is performed by. I realize that in our nation s history, certain races were not given equal rights, and I don t oppose those who state that society still doesn t balance on a fulcrum of equality. Nevertheless, I do feel that racism, at least from where I stand, is less. I believe that racism is a pendulum, swinging to both opposites before finally settling somewhere in the middle. To say that racism didn t play a part in the O.J. Simpson trial would be ignorance. However, I do believe that racism wasn t the primary reason for the hype that surrounded the most controversial trial of the century.

O.J. Simpson was a model not only to the African American race, but also to all people involved with the media. He broke racial boundaries on and off the football field and established himself as a media icon. It was this reason that the media first became introduced to the Simpson trial. It wasn t until after a possible suicide note and a four-hour police chase that premiered midway through an NBA playoff game that brought not only media coverage, but also the public s attention to the situation. It was the intrigue of a public hero that possibly turned vicious killer that grasped audience s attention. An athletic superstar, who had won the Heisman trophy, and then accusedly conspired to kill his wife and her lover, brought O.J. Simpson to the headlines.

To assume that the reason for the publicity was due to O.J. Simpson being of African American descent and because the two people that were murdered were White, would be, in my mind, ludicrous. After the murders, however, if he read the papers or watched the news or listened to his own defense (or read his own book for that matter), what Simpson no doubt discovered was the inevitability of his blackness (Ducille, 137).

This quote brings forth the authors view that the media portrayed the trial through racist eyes therefore causing the public to think less of him due to the fact that he was an African American. The author continues to say,

When he was good, he was all-American, but when he was bad, he was black. Illuminating Simpson s blackness, his dark side, his hidden essential black self became a way of explaining the crime, which at moments seemed less that he might have murdered two people than that he had fooled millions (Ducille 137).

Ducille goes on to conclude that O.J. Simpson was considered American until he was accused of the murders. Afterwards he was viewed as an African American who fooled society into thinking that he could be accepted. This is a contradiction to what I believe of our nation. O.J. Simpson, in my opinion, was viewed before the murders as an influential African American that had wholeheartedly showed a segregated society that African Americans should be considered equal, and after the murders was viewed as the same man with a trouble home life and torrential anger.

I am not stating that racism was not used in the trial on both sides in order to play on the facts to sway public ideas, however I don t feel that the silent majority viewed O.J. Simpson in a different light, racially, due to the trial. O.J. Simpson was the same hall of fame running back, except that his terribly violent side had been revealed to the criticizing public eye. If the parents of John Benet Ramses had been indicted for the murder of their daughter, no less amount of media attention would have been given to them. At one time racism was the definition of conviction, except the pendulum of racism has swung closer to the middle and this was the case for the O.J. Simpson trial.

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