It was the beginning of my freshman year in high school (October 3, 1995, to be exact), when the world heard the groundbreaking news, “In the case of the People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson, he is hereby declared not guilty”. My entire high school erupted into pure chaos. A strange mix of cheers, tears and blank stares enveloped the world around me. The case had managed to uproot deeply held feelings of social injustice that had little to do with the actual case itself. On the back of the Rodney King verdict, O.J.’s exoneration symbolized hope that the American justice system was not always stacked against minorities. Any way you look at it, the Juice’s life reads like a classic American tragedy, from the meteoric rise as a football legend and movie star to an epic fall from grace on the back of both domestic and criminal allegations and/or convictions.
All that being said, there are 2 quotes surrounding O.J. Simpson that struck a personal chord with me:
- “I have always wanted to be liked…” – O.J. Simpson
- In a quest for “likes” or “to be liked” people will often forgo pursuing their true purpose and instead exhibit behaviors that feed their inner ego. This can manifest in going to great lengths to save face and often leads you off your true path. This is a hard lesson to learn as it feels good to be liked, but historically, the men and women that have made the greatest contributions to society are not broadly liked in their lifetime i.e. Martin Luther King, JFK and Jesus to name a few
- “I’m not black I’m O.J.” – O.J. Simpson
- This line was recently made famous by Jay-Z in his song “The Story of O.J.” where he sarcastically says “OK” in response to this quote. While race is a man-made construct and does not define all that you are, denying that your race is a part of your societal experience only serves to separate you from reality. As a biracial kid growing up in Rochester, New York, I was forced to deal with my racial identity at an early age. It was not until I fully embraced my racial identity that I could fully embrace all that I am and more importantly, all that I could be.
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