O.J. Simpson and Imperialism, Sudan, and the Congo

Although he was a prolific professional running back in U.S. football during the 1960s and early 70s, most people today will remember African (Black) Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson as being either the person who was framed for, or got away with, the June 1994 murders of his European (white) ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

I grew up in the same depressed San Francisco, California, U.S. neighborhood as O.J.  As a nine year old child I remember chasing O.J. down in front of Kezar Stadium 1971 for an autograph only to be quickly dismissed for a couple of blond women who immediately caught his eye, only to take his attention and my pen and football shirt away from me.

As a result of my experience growing up in that neighborhood where O.J. ripped through the grim streets in his fancy sports cars and my active involvement in the African struggle for liberation, I have gained what I believe to be a unique perspective on how to assess O.J.’s influence after his death this week.

After my nine year old experience of rejection that day with O.J., a rejection that was not unfamiliar to me then and would be a consistent and reoccurring theme for me throughout my life as a colonized African in this cesspool U.S., I left Kezar stadium that day and reflected my experience with my mother later that evening.  When I told her what happened, her response was O.J. was the type of African sellout who would always respond to European society before responding to us.  Once my father was advised of my experience, without debriefing first, he almost word for word copied my mother’s assessment of the situation.

I didn’t know this at the time, but that experience was actually a very positive one for me because it was my first real lesson in how capitalism perpetuates white supremacy against us i.e. even our own African people will serve as conduits for this system of oppression against the African masses.  As a result, from 1971 forward, I understood that O.J. wasn’t for us.  When the murders of Ms. Brown-Simpson and Mr. Goldman took place in 1994, I never spent a single moment wondering whether O.J. did it or not.  Instead, I wondered why everyone was talking about that and not what was happening in Cuba (I had just returned from visiting the island during their initial special period caused in large part by the U.S. economic blockade against that socialist country).  I was wondering why no one seemed to be talking about the lack of substantive changes in Azania (South Africa) once the apartheid system was eliminated and Nelson Mandela was elected president through the African National Congress, the organization that helped lead the anti-colonial war against the racist regimes controlling that country.  I even remember a discussion with a group of Africans during the O.J. trial in 1995.  Someone asked me in the group whether I thought he had done it.  I responded by stating that I was more concerned about Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt), Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, and the scores of African political prisoners who were wrongly incarcerated for standing up for us while O.J. had never seemed to stand up for anyone besides himself.  Of course, no one in that group knew who any of the people I mentioned were or what it was that they had done for us to languish in prison.

Fast forwarding to 2024 and the death of O.J. the dominant narrative being presented through the capitalist mass media is that O.J.’s trial was “the most important trial in U.S. history!”  Certainly, being evaluated solely based upon popularity and television ratings, that statement would be true, but based upon a critical take, that claim is nothing short of ridiculous.  Strictly since 1994, the time of the murders connected to O.J., we have seen thousands of so-called trials against African and Indigenous people within the U.S. as a result of the so-called war on drugs.  As a result, thousands of colonized people were wrongly imprisoned or at least given disparate prison sentences as a result of a racist policy thrust that was designed to serve the interests of capitalism/white supremacy.  And, that’s just getting started.  During this 30 year period, we have seen the U.S. participate in supporting and/or carrying out sabotage and murder against democratically elected governments in Libya, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc.  We have seen the U.S. send unprecedented economic and financial aide to the zionist state of Israel that has been used to completely subjugate the Palestinian people.  We have seen the U.S. spend billions on the African Command program – almost 100 U.S. military bases in Africa – which has played a significant role in maintaining political and economic instability in the Congo, Sudan, etc., designed to ensure the vast natural resources in those countries are continually and cheaply available for capitalist multi-national corporations to continue to exploit.  All of these efforts on behalf of U.S. interests have caused mass death and destruction with absolutely no one being held accountable, yet we are supposed to believe today that the O.J. trial is the most important trial in U.S. history?

All loss of life is tragic, but the suggestion being presented this week is while a Congolese woman is being brutally assaulted every minute, every day, for the several decades, largely as a result of U.S. controlled interests in that region, two Europeans being allegedly killed by O.J. is the most important criminal activity ever witnessed in this country.  

For those of us who can see the U.S. for what it is – criminal empire – the healthy way to look at all of this, and more importantly to help others understand the same, is that these criminals are always writing the history of the world we live in.  Of course, they are going to ignore their mass crimes and select one worthless African to credit him with committing “the most heinous crime” in U.S. history.  They will do this while ignoring the wiping out of Indigenous people wholesale, the lynchings of thousands of Africans, and the resulting death and destruction of millions around the world in the interests of protecting capitalist profits.

I knew what type of person O.J. was at nine years old.  What has taken me considerably longer to figure out is why so many of us continue to let the world’s chief criminal tell us who the actual criminals are.  Whether O.J. did it or not, he’s gone now so any potential for destruction he ever had is eternally over.  Meanwhile, the U.S. led capitalist and imperialist network is continuing to reap its terror and havoc on the majority of people on the planet earth.  So, you tell me which criminal is most consequential?

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Ahjamu Umi is revolutionary organizer with the All African People's Revolutionary Party, adviser, and liberation literature author.