Though the focus is on events in Los Angeles following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and through the Simpson trials, the messages apply to the entire USA. The same themes reappear in Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas and so many other areas. Unfortunately the problems are far from ending because, apparently, we still haven't learned much. Maybe we don't want to learn? What happened back then and what's happening today are mirror images of tragedy stemming from a long history of racial insensitivity. Just as Black Lives Matter is an important concept to embrace, misusing it for motives of revenge is as short-sighted as the injustices that brought rise to the movement itself.
Roots of LA Racial Divide
The documentary shed so much light on my understanding of how a jury could find Simpson not guilty of a crime he most likely committed. Before then (or since), the public had never seen so much criminal evidence of a double-homicide that ended in acquittal. But this documentary recreates the atmosphere and mindset of African Americans living in Los Angeles during the 60's and beyond, which affected any ability to view a case that involved race with impartial eyes. OJ had to be acquitted under those circumstances.
Remember the times, the 60's, when people publicly discussed blacks as second-class citizens, even in American towns far away from the deep south. The LAPD had an established tolerance for racial doctrines of inequality, even employing high-ranking officers with connections to the KKK. Fast forward to the 90's and Mark Fuhrman, a lead detective on the night of the murder who found the famous bloody glove. Fuhrman eventually took the 5th amendment during the OJ trial due to fact that he was on record for being a well-documented racist.
What will stick with me most are the dramatic changes OJ went through from the time he began his career at USC until the present. OJ was really a beautiful person in addition to being the most powerful, graceful and durable running back anyone had seen since Jim Brown. He was reserved and thoughtful, confident yet humble, and he put his team and teammates first. He was quick to credit others and to go out of his way to make people feel good. It's easy to see why America fell head over heels in love with him, white and black alike. OJ was the real deal.
Living the American Dream
Bigger than Hollywood
You can't make this shit up.
Insanity, Concussions and CTE
Perhaps more importantly, how much is football to blame with concussion related insanity and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)? During the trials nobody knew about CTE or how repeated concussions can cause a person to have explosive, impulsive behavior and judgment. If anyone was a candidate for CTE, it would be Simpson. He carried the ball for USC a record number of times in 2 seasons and is the only NFL player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season of just 14 games (in 1978 the NFL expanded the season to 16 games).
|courtesy UPR http://bit.ly/29vVaUE|
And yet, the documentary is much more than an explanation of how OJ got away with it. It's a deep and hard look into the divides of color along with an attempt to exist beyond those labels. In some ways, OJ's acquittal represents a forgiveness for so many documented and undocumented cases of racial profiling, abuse, murder and hate crimes from both the public and police.
The violent killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, followed by the acquittal reminds me of throwing virgins into a boiling volcano to calm the gods. No, it doesn't make sense and it isn't justice, for those people lost their lives in a horrifying manner; nothing will bring them back beyond their memories.
I watched every minute of the miniseries because I'm a sports fan and an American trying to understand and help heal racial tensions. I don't know if that can ever be healed entirely, but this documentary sheds enormous light on the situation. Even though it's hard for some people to think of OJ as much else than a delusional, egotistical murderer, he is also a product of society.
Please make the effort to watch O.J.: Made in America as soon as possible.
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