His High-Profile Case Still Stirs Conversation About Fighting The System

photo of oj simpson not smiling
Zain Murdock
September 29, 2022

On October 3, 1995, actor and football player O.J. Simpson heard, along with the rest of the world, two words that would divide Black America for years: “Not guilty.” But more than 25 years later, the case of the Black man who argued that he was more than Black still draws a divide. 

And not just a Black and white one.

To some, Simpson’s victory felt like a decades-long war won against the LAPD, a police department that has historically brutalized Black communities and still does today.  Many felt compelled to defend Simpson as a stand-in for all Black people abused by the system. But not everyone.

Others, including many who want to reform or even abolish the criminal legal system, balked at the idea of considering Simpson’s win “Black excellence.” “The support of Simpson was a step backward,” wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2016, who remembered Simpson’s record of domestic abuse.

So how do we feel?

When we encounter cases like Simpson’s, we don’t have to argue someone’s “innocence” to challenge the criminal legal system.

We can make the point that the brutal criminal legal system doesn’t work without stripping away the possibility that some Black people cause serious harm. Us getting away with things that white people get away with is NOT Black liberation. We have nothing to prove.