They Let O.J. Out. I’m $20 Richer but Ambivalent


Moo-la la. Orenthal James Simpson got off. Again. The juice is LOOSE! And I’m $20 richer for it. (Two people on The Root staff took the bet.)

I had a feeling about this one. Would Lady Justice show her hypocritical ass or keep it classy? In Nevada it can go either way. This is the state of the Mob and Floyd Mayweather. Colin Kaepernick’s college career and Reno 911. Legal weed and where Lamar Odom almost OD’d. Vegas and Virginia City, with its Confederate flags. Like I said, a toss-up.


Not that anyone black gives a rat’s ass, as evidenced by the gots-no-chill internet. I give you Exhibit A:


And B:


And ... C:


Comic relief aside, this whole situation raised the question: Have the whites forgiven O.J.? Or would there be some trumped-up excuse about masturbation or cookies to keep O.J. locked up? My guess is that they still love him so.

O.J. was always different, right? It wasn’t as if he wasn’t a football gawd. Or extremely handsome. Or a friend forever to wypipo—that cool, talented fool who fit right in.


I remember the day the O.J. verdict came down in 1995. Swear to God, all the eggs I cracked that morning had two yolks (and you know I kept cracking them all because I was a little distressed about this weirdness). Then, up on the 20th floor, a pigeon flew in my apartment—that means death, according to the old folks.

I still didn’t think he did it.

When I got to my job at The Source that day, we all crowded around a conference-room TV for the announcement. There were cheers and weed smoke.


Given the police and their interaction with black communities across the country, it seemed highly plausible to all of us that O.J. was set up. The entrenched racism of the Los Angeles Police Department had surely blinded me to Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder, but the truth was, it was almost immaterial. The entire thing had moved way, way beyond that. It had gone tribal, to use a jail metaphor.

I credit Ezra Edelman and his seminal O.J.: Made in America documentary for giving me empathy for Brown Simpson. As noted in his The Root 100 bio last year:

Made in America took one of the most specific, racially divisive trials of the 20th century and expanded its lens beyond Simpson and onto celebrity, criminal justice, race and gender in Los Angeles. Not only that, Edelman was able to present a work that helped those on both sides of the fence see the “other’s” perspective— art as a bridge over the still-gaping racial divide in this country.


The feminist part of me hated that crazy motherfucker for abusing that poor woman and most likely ending her life in a most horrific way. But O.J. was more than a violent black man. He was a living representation of a criminal-justice system that has doled out relentless travesty to African Americans since time immemorial (“Two for 2 million?” is how one black woman put it).

Intersectionality is rarely neat.

I’m over it. O.J. is nothing but spectacle, and we have quite enough of that in reality. What’s next? O.J. Simpson endorses Donald Trump? O.J. gets in a ring with Trump after he’s impeached? The whites pay O.J. to be in a real-life The Most Dangerous Game? You heard it here first.


Hopefully, O.J. will fade into the ether and go sit the fuck down somewhere, happy that he did only nine years for murder.

And to the two women who owe me my Hamilton ... run it. Put it around a can of frozen orange juice just for kicks.

Sistas betta have my money!

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About the author

Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.