The fascinating life of OJ Simpson – Part 1

oj

When you hear the name OJ Simpson what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Some may not even know who he is now but for me it was the biggest trial in America. A famous, well-loved black sports hero was accused of murdering his white wife in the 90s. The story was huge and even at my young age I saw it, I heard it and I knew it was about racism.

I watched the documentary OJ: Made in America, there’s been many on him but I don’t think I’ve watched any other in its entirety. This one is one of the most incredible documentaries I’ve seen in a very long time and it’s Oscar-winning. It talks about his life before the lead up to the murder, the trial of the century and after his acquittal. There was a lot I didn’t know about OJ Simpson. It also talks about black America, racism and the history of the race relations between Los Angeles police and the black community which is what made the trial huge and divided the nation.

I’m going to relay the main points from the documentary and my thoughts and opinions on what I’ve watched.

“As a kid growing up in the ghetto one of the things I wanted most was not money, it was fame” – OJ Simpson. Boy, would this turn out to be the biggest blessing & curse of his life.

The documentary starts with him incarcerated in prison, he’s in court talking to the judges about the work he’s been doing in prison.

The beginning

He was born in San Francisco in 1947. He said he was a hustler from the age of 10. His father was gay and this was a big deal back then for a black man, he never spoke about it. He had aspirations and wanted to better his circumstance due to poverty and living in the ghetto and LA was the place to do that.

Black people had the image there was no prejudice in LA against blacks and many moved there from the deep south from the 1940s to the 60s. The hope was all the trouble they had known will be gone and they will no longer be held down by this notion held against their skin and hair (It’s interesting that even today many black people change their natural hair, It’s been entrenched in their psyche for centuries that ‘looking white’ is superior). Racism was as troubling and stark as it was in the south. You see the history of the ghettos of LA i.e. south central LA and how they were formed and black people still living in them today.

He was a breakout star at American football in the 1960s. He was known for scoring points by running long distances on the field. He was married to a black woman in USC college which was an all white college. He was a very good-looking man, he had that Ali swagger but not an ounce of his principal and people called him one of a kind as an athlete.

He was seduced as a black man in the 60s by white society and his story has been about being a pleasing person to white society. People said he had almost white features and he achieved also because of his looks, it’s a fact people are more accepting of and treat good-looking people better.

young oj

The Civil Rights Movement

The civil rights were occurring during the 60s. Segregation, racism, black people had no power, there was police brutality against blacks. The police head was known to have recruited officers from KKK rallies. There were riots in black areas due to police killings and OJ made white America feel good about black people at the time of unrest unlike the black angry sports stars who were going to revolutionise.

During the 60s societal issues were pushing their way into sports. Major athletes stood up against going to the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali was one of them. They stood up for principal and it was to hell with the consequences. It damaged their commercial possibilities. Black athletes boycotted the Olympics in 68 due to discrimination. OJ was approached because he was the biggest name in college athletics, he was also a world record holding track star and his response was I’m not black, I’m OJ. Black athletes were concerned with black people first and sports second unlike OJ.

olympics

The documentary shoots back and forth between OJ’s life in white America and the contrasting brutality and injustice of black America in poverty. It is a juxtaposition and visually, historically and contextually It’s brilliant. It relays the history of racism and why it has led to where people are at.

OJ’s career

He played professional American football and became the first black man to be a national spokesperson and get a product endorsement. This was ground breaking for a black man and an athlete because product endorsements for athletes were non-existent. OJ was that one black person on the brochure of a fancy university. He got in, but boy did he have to do a lot to be accepted.

This was another reason a lot of the athletes stood up against injustice because they didn’t have to worry about losing money, their endorsements or legal ramifications from companies. They were free in a way, unlike today where people will think twice whether it will affect their endorsements before speaking out.

OJ opened doors with endorsements to the black community with TV adverts, he was a pioneer. OJ left football to become an actor. He transitioned well from a sports star to a TV star. Many today do not do that successfully even though It’s become the norm.

His family life was failing with his first wife whilst he enjoyed fame. He met Nicole Brown and instantly liked her, he had an affair and ended up divorcing his wife and marrying Nicole.

Nicole Brown Simpson

nicole and oj

He and Nicole were seen as a beautiful, happy, fun couple. Image is everything in his world, he created his career off of being a like able black man.

He was a womanizer and was having affairs. He was physically abusing her for years, she called the police multiple times and said he’s going to kill me. There were two OJ’s, the one he was portraying, a very charming man and the controlling wife beater.

She had an affair as well with someone OJ was friends with and this really bothered him. He was a very jealous, insecure man even though he had many multiple affairs and national adoration, he became very entitled, everyone had put him on a pedal stool.

Her friend said “I think there was something about her that was almost unattainable to him, something he couldn’t quite control and it was part of the attraction”, this could be a metaphor for white America. She ultimately paid the price.

Did he take out his indignation’s on his wife? He put on a charming mask with the rest of the world. Did she see the real him? He loved her for sure but she didn’t accept his adultery and maybe he expected her to because of the way he got treated by everyone else because hey, he’s OJ.

She took the abuse for a while and then finally had enough of wanting and hoping he would change, she knew he wouldn’t.

The police

The police issues with the black community were still bad and white people were oblivious. The infamous case of Rodney King in 91, a black man beaten by police officers with batons was filmed. The media didn’t give LAPD a break and showed the video repeatedly internationally. It was an exhibit for every abuse case cops had done. How will the police justify this one? How will they get out of this one? The officers went to trial, the trial was moved to a white area and the jury found them not guilty and it enraged the black community, it caused riots.

rodney

What has changed between the black community and the police in the US today? We see black people being shot and killed live on social media and there is no accountability. Police brutality is happening in the UK Babar Ahmad and Mark Duggan are examples. There is a systematic inherent racism within the police that is still continuing.

What’s interesting is that some of the former police officers being interviewed in the documentary still justify racist and abusive actions. It’s quite sick, these former cops are really in denial or deluded about racism within themselves and the LAPD. The remnant of racism still resides in people today, who not too long ago supported segregation. They hold positions of influence with the same ideologies.

OJ knew the indignities of the black community and chose to not speak on it and ignore it. People said he had a facade when in the white world and didn’t amongst blacks. He was a black man trying to fit in to rich racist white America all the while he had forsaken his own people.

OJ’s character

He didn’t want to be seen as black but as OJ and for the contents of his character. What he said is correct but what didn’t match up was that he erased the black part of his character to appease white people and it definitely had a negative effect on him. He was accepted because he changed himself to fit in. He’s a smart man, he knew at that time that’s what he had to do to get the success he wanted. His life was different to black America and he was treated differently to black America.

The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson

Nicole was murdered along with another man, Ron Goldman. They were stabbed to death outside her house in an affluent area. It was a gruesome, bloody murder and the worlds media went hysterical.

OJ was accused of the murders and was treated with privilege by the police because of the pedal stool white America had put him on, he wasn’t even arrested but asked to surrender himself and he went on the run in a live televised car chase. I remember seeing this and the absolute hysteria and excitement from everyone watching, it was so surreal. Crowds had taken to the street and black people were supporting him, chanting ‘free OJ’ and holding posters.

He had reached the top of the mountain in his life and has had the most epic fall from grace. People called him an American tragedy and his life is more fascinating then fiction, It’s more than your brain can take in comprehend and digest.

He eventually gave himself in and was arrested and charged with the murders and it was the trial of the century.

Part 2 – The trial of the century read here.

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Greatness, Lies Within YOU

rocky

I woke up on Saturday morning, not too early and this blog idea came to my mind so I got out of bed grabbed my notepad (got back into bed) and jotted down two pages of notes.

There are many blogs and articles that tell you to believe in yourself, to take the first/next step, ‘achieve greatness’ but what IS that exactly? It’s interpreted differently to every single person. It can be hard to gain inspiration, they’re becoming generic. The positive words are one thing – ‘you can do it’, ‘hang in there’ but not much practical and systematical advice.

I get inspiration from a lot of places, Babar’s blog post about him starting his honey company is for sure one of them. I see disabled people all the time, they don’t let their disability stop them getting out and about by themselves to do their daily duties and living their life.

I’m currently reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiographyLong walk to freedom and I’m extremely inspired by this man and the way he conducted his life. I will write a few blogs on the book God willing. One of the main things I take from the book is that life goes on  and we must continue to do good in the hardships and struggles and continue to keep striving and bettering ourselves. An example, when Mandela was in prison on Robben island for 27 years, he still studied for his law degree, took on legal cases in prison and never stopped fighting for their rights in prison.

Muhammad Ali – The Greatest

Muhammad Ali was the greatest and the greatest example that comes to my mind of someone projecting that to others to make them believe it.

He projected to the world that he was the greatest and we all believed it, inside the ring and out. To his opponents in the ring he made them believe how dare they even have the audacity to believe that they could beat him and they didn’t 🙂

Ali said that he didn’t believe he was the greatest but he said it, in turn making us believe then working hard and becoming that.

ali

We HAVE to believe in ourselves

Without self belief in ourselves and our abilities, we cannot achieve what we want to achieve. Also with that we have to LOVE ourselves. If we do not believe in ourselves and love ourselves how will others? It is not their job to do that. We have to project this self belief so others will believe in you, for a job position, as a parent, a husband, whatever it is we want to achieve.

People want value from you and what you have to offer and bring to the table and every single person has that, just everyone doesn’t believe they do.

This is also coupled with confidence, self-esteem and working hard. There’s a line between confidence and arrogance. We become more confident with things we are familiar with, so if it a subject or a craft, we have to study and learn it to understand it and become great at it.

If one is lacking in areas of confidence and self-esteem, there are many videos online and books that one can watch and read to help themselves. If you do not help yourself seldom few will. A book I’m currently reading that I have found useful practically and for my mindset is emotional first aid, it has chapters on different areas that I find very relatable that I struggle with.

Don’t let them tell you, you can’t

I’ve noticed, that people are often negative about someone doing something for two reasons, either they’re fearful that they themselves cannot do it and they’re projecting or jealousy.

Everyone is created weak. Some may hide it better than others but for sure they have their weak moments and spots. Don’t let others make you feel you are weak and they are not.

Everyone has bad days, we know this but what do we do in those bad days?

You might often feel like you’ve taken one step forward and three steps back, one day for you five against, knocked down repeatedly but as the cliché goes we don’t stay down. Even when we’re down we have to do something, anything, something small, you may slow right on down but never stop.

Visualise this, building blocks, some days you may have many large one’s, some days just one tiny one but you add it to the pile and it keeps building and it SHOULD feel like you’ve achieved something TO YOU. Forget what others say, many don’t really care anyway and people don’t ever stop talking. Don’t get me wrong this is not an overnight thing but a consistent building up of ourselves overtime with a lot of effort and hard work.

What CAN you do

I believe a dream has to have a thorough plan and we all need a purpose.

It starts with ourselves first, then our families, then our local communities and then farther after that. We cannot be in any position to do anything for anyone else till we help ourselves first.

So start small, micro – do something daily that will benefit you or write a list of 3 things you want to achieve and do it every day and when you have achieved them, tick it off. Do this consistently and build. If you want to get fit start going for walks, then increase to going for jogs. If the current climate is bothering you and you want to have your say start a blog, write 250 words or 1 or 2 pages in a notepad. I started reading a page of Quran everyday and now I can’t go without it, I’ve been doing it for a while, small but consistent.

You don’t need to be in the public eye to make a difference, you don’t have to be a Linda Sarsour or a Haitham Al Haddad but our daily actions and interactions matter. A simple smile can make a difference, it can diffuse tensions that we feel on the streets daily because we are Muslim, create conversations it is also a good deed. We need to get these things into our system, smile at just one person today, I know for us Brits it can be tough 😉

What can one person do? A lot, we are all one person that need to work on our talents,  united we are an ummah that can benefit, so be proactive not reactive everyone is needed.

If everyone was a doctor we would all be walking around in dirty streets.

Jealousy and envy of others will not grant you success quicker but just affect one’s own heart.

I started this blog with one post with just over 600 words in August 2016, I’ve been posting consistently since and now I’m thinking of expanding upon this and it all stared with just one blog. UPDATE – I’ve bought a website name & I will be starting to create my own website in July 2017 God willing. Almost a year from when i published my first blog. I’ve come along way and I’m proud of my consistency and what I’m trying to build and as i said it all started from one blog… SO GO DO IT!

Btw I’ll rate you if you know where the photo at the top is from..

SO, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE TODAY?

 

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