Juice won't be juiced

August 05, 1994|By Derrick Z. Jackson

IT IS a miscarriage of emotions to fret that the Juice is being squeezed because of his race.

For sure, some white Americans would gladly give O.J. Simpson, the former football star, the juice for blowing his good Negro status in allegedly killing his white ex-wife. A poll last year by the National Opinion Research Center found that 20 percent of white Americans say interracial marriage should be illegal.

For sure, most of white America sees and hears no evil in the criminal justice system. In a USA Today/CNN poll, 35 percent of white Americans say African Americans are treated too harshly by the system. Seventy-four percent of African Americans think it is too harsh. Normally I am in that 74 percent.

The Simpson case is not normal. This case of Juice is so contaminated that African Americans should not mix black male concentrate with O.J.'s fresh-squeezed defense.

If he cannot get or outrun justice with lead blockers Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz, O.J. should make his last calls, watch a video of his last touchdown, strap himself to the chair and beg no tears.

The African-American numbers make me wonder if Mr. Simpson is being confused with Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Confirmation of this feeling came when a phalanx of African-American leaders in Los Angeles asked District Attorney Gil Garcetti not to seek the death penalty for Mr. Simpson.

As these leaders chant No Abuse of the Juice, the Congressional Black Caucus wages a terribly lonely battle to make sure the crime bill allows the overturning of death penalty convictions if a pattern of discrimination can be shown. Since 1977, 63 African Americans with neither money nor fame have been executed for killing whites, while just one white was killed for slaying a black.

As some deluded African Americans sell "Pray For O.J." T-shirts, the sentences for African Americans selling cocaine are nearly two years longer than those given white Americans.

Boot camps are the rage, even though in Massachusetts a House report found the recidivism rate to be the same as before boot camp. If African Americans want to protest criminal injustice, that is where the action is. It is precisely where Robert Shapiro and CNN are not.

Also disturbing was a Field Poll in which 78 percent of California African Americans said that if Mr. Simpson did the killing, he did it only in the heat of passion -- not premeditated cold blood. Only 46 percent of overall respondents felt that way.

That response evokes bad memories surrounding the cases of Mike Tyson and Clarence Thomas.

After Mike Tyson, the ex-boxing champion, was convicted of rape, a group of Indianapolis ministers collected 10,000 signatures asking for a suspended sentence. The Rev. T.J. Jemison, head of the largest African-American church, the 7.5 million-member National Baptist Convention, pleaded for a lighter sentence because of "the black male and his plight."

Clarence Thomas was the right wing's darling. He blasted affirmative action. He called African-American leaders whiners. Then, when his Supreme Court nomination was rocked by Anita Hill's charges of sexual harassment, he roared that he was the victim of a "high-tech lynching." African Americans fell for that, giving Clarence Thomas 60-percent ratings of support. That support was gleefully cited by President Bush as Mr. Thomas was confirmed.

A lot of African Americans say they pulled for Mike Tyson and Clarence Thomas and pull now for O.J. Simpson because too many African-American men have been victimized by the media and the government.

African Americans were rightfully enraged when the Boston police and media bought into Charles Stuart's framing of a black thief for the murder of his wife -- instead of using the law of statistics that point to husbands as killers.

But now, despite Mr. Simpson's history of beating Nicole Brown Simpson, 60 percent of African Americans (and just 23 percent of white Americans) say Mr. Simpson is somehow being framed.

African Americans do more than look inconsistent in doing for Mr. Simpson what the Boston police did for Stuart. In the Tyson-Thomas-Simpson trilogy, invoking the plight of the black man diminished the oppression and brutalization of women.

In the cases of jocks Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson, the fallout may merely be a divided America scratching its head. By aiding Mr. Thomas, we contributed to our own oppression.

Justice Thomas supports the death penalty and has voted to let the government do what it wishes with Haitian refugees. He has written that the Constitution's protections against cruel and unusual punishment do not extend to being raped in jail. It is the plight of such unprotected men that should evoke far greater concern than whether O.J. Simpson can get a fair trial. The Juice will squeeze the system for every drop his money can buy.

The vast majority of African Americans accused of crime will be squashed into pulp. The condemned will continue to get the final juice.

G; Derrick Z. Jackson is a columnist for the Boston Globe.

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