O.J.’s Journey From Super Nigger to Bad Nigger

by Mark P. Fancher

In hindsight, the OJ Simpson trial – the real one, not the flurry of recent documentaries – marked a watershed for White America and its privileges. It was a time when a wealthy former super nigger with a “smooth-talking” Black lawyer won acquittal in the death of two whites over the near-unanimous objections of white people, nationwide.  “The unthinkable occurred when a bunch of bad niggers on a jury let a bad nigger go free.”

O.J.’s Journey From Super Nigger to Bad Nigger

by Mark P. Fancher

“In the minds of many, the Simpson acquittal may have been the first significant sign that hegemony seemed to be slipping from the grasp of white America.”

Back in the 1970s, at least one University of Tennessee Black Studies professor taught his students that in the eyes of much of white America, most Africans fit into one of three categories – “good niggers,” “bad niggers,” or “super niggers.”

Good niggers cause white America no problems. They stay within the established social and political boundaries as they enthusiastically help to maintain mass delusions about the virtues of America. The bad niggers on the other hand smash their way out of the confines of good niggerdom. Some bad niggers are hyper-militant in their demands for political and economic power. Other bad niggers are apolitical but disrespectful of social rules by not only dating and marrying white women, but by also arrogantly flaunting these relationships. This is an offense because, notwithstanding increasingly relaxed responses to interracial relationships, there is still a great deal of private, unexpressed hostility toward those who cross the racial relationship line.

There is also that third category – the super nigger. The super nigger is really nothing more than a bad nigger who enjoys white America’s enthusiastic support for his bad nigger conduct. The primary requirement for super nigger status is the ability and willingness to win power and wealth for white capitalists. Before his fall from grace, O.J. Simpson was a model super nigger. He never made waves politically, but socially he defied all of the rules. He mixed and mingled in an exclusive white world and pursued, almost exclusively, relationships with white women. None of this was controversial or problematic. Everyone loved “The Juice” because he made the right people lots of money and the right people in turn assured the broader public that it was safe to embrace the charismatic Heisman Trophy winner.

“The primary requirement for super nigger status is the ability and willingness to win power and wealth for white capitalists.”

Simpson lost his super nigger status, but remarkably, it was not because of allegations that he murdered two people. Many in white America could easily forgive a little thing like a double homicide. Who can forget how, after a warrant was issued for his arrest, thousands of people lined Los Angeles streets and highways to express their love and support for Simpson during the infamous white Bronco chase? All that Simpson had to do to remain in the good graces of much of the white public was to quietly and meekly endure his criminal trial. There was every possibility that, given his charm, he would be acquitted. But if he were convicted, a loyal and adoring public would be waiting for him after his release from prison, and he could resume the important business of making money for the people who matter.

But Simpson, guided by his take-no-prisoners attorney Johnnie Cochran, threw away the script. His defense became an aggressive counter-attack against the Los Angeles Police Department. He argued that the police framed him by planting key evidence. These acts were motivated, he claimed, by the racism of at least one detective whose vicious anti-black sentiments were a matter of record. In the eyes of much of white America, this defense posture was very much like that assumed by the rabble in the ‘hood. It was in no way appropriate behavior for a privileged super nigger. Though the anger in white communities began to simmer, it did not explode right away because there was faith that a system designed to protect white interests would ensure that Simpson would be punished for his crime – the crime of betrayal – acting like a bad nigger. Yet, the unthinkable occurred when a bunch of bad niggers on a jury let a bad nigger go free. This drove many to the brink of insanity.

“Who can forget how thousands of people lined Los Angeles streets and highways to express their love and support for Simpson during the infamous white Bronco chase?”

More than two decades later, the national interest in this case has returned. The FX network recently completed the airing of a wildly popular series about it, and there are more documentaries on the way. The significance of a revived O.J. obsession during this historical moment may not be coincidental. In the minds of many, the Simpson acquittal may have been the first significant sign that hegemony seemed to be slipping from the grasp of white America. For generations, white America had been conditioned to believe the country’s institutions were hard-wired to protect the white public at any cost. The ability of a smooth-talking black criminal defense attorney to save his client from a conviction that much of the white public desperately wanted was a blow that left many shaken and fearful of what the future might hold for their kind.

As the years have passed, there have been other developments that have inflamed white insecurities about their prospects for holding on to their dominant status. Perhaps the most significant have been: changing racial demographics that will soon render whites a numerical minority, shrinking opportunities for economic advancement, and the election of a black President. Efforts to cope with the perceived loss of privilege in the white heartland have resulted in increasing substance abuse, escalating death rates, and the disintegration of families. In desperation they have sought a messiah, and they have found one who not only aspires to the Presidency, but who will also freeze the racial balance of the population by building a giant wall that will keep Mexicans out of the country.

“The ability of a smooth-talking black criminal defense attorney to save his client from a conviction was a blow that left many shaken and fearful of what the future might hold for their kind.”

Revisiting the O.J. case may be in some ways therapeutic for those in the white population who are emotionally devastated. It is a return to where, from their perspective, things started to go all wrong on the racial front. It also provides them with an opportunity to take a more detached look at a traumatic episode in the life of the white community.

The case also holds appeal for people of color, because in the midst of the current, endless series of police violence incidents, there is satisfaction in remembering how Cochran and his legal team established for the jury that Detective Mark Fuhrman was an admitted racist. The lawyers also posed to Fuhrman, out of the jury’s presence, the direct question of whether he manufactured and planted evidence in the Simpson case. In response, Fuhrman invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege not to incriminate himself. These facts, coupled with the fact that the blood evidence amounted to only a drop here and there that could certainly have been planted, are more than sufficient for many to have no problem accepting the jury’s conclusion that Simpson’s guilt had not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

As even more money is made from this tragedy, it is ironic that somehow, notwithstanding fears of the loss of white dominance, the white capitalists are nevertheless profiting from Simpson, this time without having to give him the benefits of super nigger status.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney and frequent contributor to Black Agenda Report. He can be contacted at [email protected].