What, you may ask, does the upcoming acquittal of George Zimmerman have to do with the not-guilty verdict in the O.J. Simpson case? Let’s go back to the visuals of that unforgettable day in Los Angeles Superior Court when the jury foreman announced that O.J. Simpson was not guilty on the charges that he’d murdered Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Do you remember the look of disbelief and outrage on the face on Dominic Dunne? Conversely, do you remember the unrestrained jubilation as expressed by the students at Howard University? Those two divergent reactions to the same verdict spoke volumes about the chasm between blacks and whites in America, and was a portent to a pivot in the direction of ultra-conservatism in the social, legal and political landscape of America.
Fast-forward to 2013 and you will see the remnants of that fateful day when O.J. Simpson left Los Angeles Superior Court a free man and white American began a “quiet,” yet sustained riot that still rages on today.
The composition of the jury in the case against George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin is a reflection of the mood in the country. An all women jury, predominantly white women at that, will, in all likelihood, find Zimmerman NOT GUILTY. The facts of the case will not weigh as heavily in the decision to free Zimmerman as will the sentiments of that jury on matters of race, perception and latent anger about a black man getting the benefit of “reasonable doubt.
Now, just for the record, I believe O.J. was guilty. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. More important, I truly believe that his acquittal set back race relations at least 50 years in this country. White people are still enraged that O.J. went free and black people wasted a lot of social, legal and political capital by rallying behind a man who cared so little about being black before and after his release from jail. Ironically, a true freedom-fighter, the late Geronimo Pratt, was languishing in jail while O.J. was on trial and black folks had nothing to do with his ultimate release because we were too consumed with standing behind a celebrity that we didn’t really know or have real cause to support so passionately.
Well, the chickens have come home to roost and payback ain’t no joke.
George Zimmerman is guilty of at least second degree murder. He will nonetheless walk free because justice isn’t blind and perception sometimes supersedes reality.
Sad, but true.