***WARNING: Graphic Photos.
Dear Nicole Simpson Brown,
Where do I begin?
Not long ago, I watched the FX television miniseries,“The People v. O.J. Simpson”, and after the six-episode concluded, I had a clearer perspective on your and O.J. Simpson’s relationship that I didn’t have back in 1995 when I was sixteen years old. The series was well acted and although I recall most of the details, I wasn’t completely engulfed in the trial back then. I didn’t even really know who O.J. Simpson was. I just knew he was a football player who had been in Naked Gun or something, and I only knew about the acting because that’s how people kept trying to relate him to me. I knew what happened and I knew he seemed guilty. I also knew he was black and Rodney King was no stranger to me. And so 16-year-old Kendria Smith had her mind made up on what the outcome should be. I was in the school office at North Central that day.
Someone screamed in the hallway but didn’t sound hurt; it was a joy. Quickly the screams turned into outright cheers and people started running down the hallway. All the black students within earshot of the person who found out the verdict first were rejoicing. Someone came into the office and yelled out NOT GUILTY, and the office cheered. I didn’t…well, not OUTWARDLY. I cheered internally. It was the exact outcome I had hoped for, and it stings me to say this, but-
-I had no remorse for you at the time.
But hey, I was 16 if that soothes the bruise a bit.
The People vs. OJ show gave me a clearer view of the entire situation but if that wasn’t enough, a documentary followed (put on by a different station) that was just as captivating.
O.J.: Made in America was a five part documentary that included Simpson’s own voice, police tapes, private home videos and lots more information. Because it was a documentary, there were also interviews with people who were a part of the trial including Marsha Clark. The difference with this film was it explored and dissected race in America, particularly in LA at the time and related it all to Simpson, you and everything that transpired. It was pretty intense at times. Add to all of this I’m much older than sixteen now and more seasoned than I was then. I’ve been in an abusive relationship and if you’ve been around these blog parts long enough, you may know that I’ve almost died at the hands of a man I loved. I’ve had a gun pointed directly at me or more than one occasion. So as a survivor of domestic abuse, I see your relationship with OJ and your subsequent murder with an evolved way of thinking.
I’ve rambled long enough. I should say what I came to say.
We live in a fucked up society man.
There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful people with strong personalities that could light up the world if given the opportunity, but as much as we have them, we have evil spirited people; folks who only know hate and bigotry and create destruction in both their words and actions. Sometimes it’s a challenge to find the balance in it all but I have to believe it’s possible….right? Our country has spit on black people since they ripped my ancestors out of their sleep with knives and chains and stuffed their freedom on a big ass ship to bring them over to United States of Stolen Territory. Some were dumped in the ocean like discarded cattle carcasses during six-to-thirteen week voyage. They made them slaves to white laziness, raped them and killed them for fun. They pic-a-nigger’d my people and right now today, picnicking is something considered cool to do on a date. My people’s pain is our current vocabulary.
They stole from us, bombed us, wouldn’t let us be free even once we were. And more than any other havoc they could wreck on us, they killed us. Excuse me…”them”.
They killed them. Them = My people.
And time after time, they got away with it. They hunted us for sport, lynched us in front of public town halls and made sellable postcards out of it. White people wrote love notes and I miss you letters on the backs of our broken necks!! And there was no consequence – it was ALWAYS condoned. They even did interviews admitting to the gruesome ways of which they ended black lives. It should be noted the lynchings were hardly ever JUST the hanging of people. Often it involved beatings, getting shot or drowned or burned as well. Black death has always been inhumane. Fetuses have been cut from hanging black mother’s wombs to fall on the ground and be pierced with shotgun blasts.
It continued until it was illegal. But then their homes were stalked and set on fire. Their husbands were kidnapped and killed.
They were shot in their own driveways, in the back, by a scandalous coward.
Shot in the neck from across the street by a scandalous coward.
But as a race, my people have remained unbreakable. We have long been victims of a system that was not created to include us but that still prevails today. People in denial have spoken of how racism no longer exists or how these events are things so far in the past that no one should still be affected by them but I beg to differ. And I know you are wondering why I am saying all this to you, but I assure you it will all tie together in just a second. Racism is not something that halted in the 1960’s and only resurfaces when black people bring it up; racism never ended in the first place. Yes things have changed and many doors opened in the name of racial equality but our climate is just as dangerous and racially charged as it was in 1964. The only thing you need in order to keep racism alive is a family that is willing to pass down the tradition of hate to their offspring. My grandmother couldn’t vote. My mother was a kid when MLK was killed.
The year that O.J. Simpson went to trial (1995), the Rodney King verdict was still a fresh reminder for anyone who thought racism was a thing of the past that. No matter what you want to call it, this justice system doesn’t give a damn about black people and never has. Seeing the Rodney King tape all these years later still invokes the same gasp in my spirit. How a jury could acquit any of those officers can only be explained by saying #FuckBlackLives!
And now, twenty plus years later little has changed. Black men, women, and children are repeatedly being shot and killed by police and local citizens and their deaths are almost always justified in the eye of the law despite any video and/or witness accounts that tell a different story. The police shoot and kill us and put our children in harm’s way with no disciplinary action taken. The silent department oath must be shoot to kill all black people and children at will. Every argument used to against us has been proven to be useless in saving our lives. Respectability politics have yet to save our lives. I’m personally tired of marching and protesting and going to community meetings. None of what we say or do keeps us from being another hashtag or temporary trending story.
Throughout history, our families have been ripped apart and dismantled. Our heads of households stolen. Our men killed in cars and department stores. Our daughters can’t stand in alleys or sleep on couches and our sons can’t reach for their wallet, drive their car, sell cigarettes or CDs, steal from the bodega (like typical teenagers), they can’t play with toy guns, and they better not ask any questions.
It’s a sick cycle that we didn’t ask to be born into yet here we are. This has been the temperament of our country since before you or my arrival and I tell you, Nicole, it’s fucking exhausting.
I was inspired to write you a letter after I watched the final episode of the documentary series. As I said earlier, it was quite an intense watch. Not only did they heavily cover your relationship to OJ from start to end, but they also showed every graphic photo they had including pictures from the crime scene. I saw how he slashed your throat open and nearly decapitated you. I went to school for forensics with the hope that I would eventually work crime scenes and help solve cases. I can’t help but imagine the horror of the people who turned your defeated body over and found you nearly cut in half. It takes a lot of personal rage to run a knife across someone’s neck until its halfway cut off like that. They also showed Ron Goldman’s bloodied body, full of defense wounds and slumped over. There were photos from your collection that you took for evidence of beatings. They played some of your 911 calls and I could hear the terror in your voice when you spoke to the operators and told them he was gonna kill you. Then there was the cop interviewed that answered one of your calls for help who found you naked, hiding in the bushes outside the home you shared. What a terrible way to live.
It’s easy for people to sit back and wonder why you kept going back but I get it. We, victims of domestic abuse, tend to hope that the person we met and loved pre-violence will return to us, sans the monster. Most times, they promise us he will and we let our heart do the thinking for our brain. It takes a lot of willpower and courage to leave an abusive relationship for good and to start over, but after some time you managed to do it. You freed yourself from chains of needing to hide your face in public and call 911 but Nicole, were you still scared? Did you look over your shoulder at times? It was shown how OJ essentially stalked you and let you know he was watching by harassing you when you had company over. As you tried to rebuild your life and give your children a healthy childhood, I can’t help but think you had to still fear for yourself. That fateful day that your mother left her glasses at the restaurant that would lead Ron Goldman coming to your home, had you let your guard down? Were you feeling confident in yourself and your fresh start? Had O.J. given you a break in the crazy phone calls and relentless stalking?
What we know is you were brutally murdered by a savage with a vendetta against you and anyone within eyeshot of you. Your life was not taken by a serial killer or some crazed lunatic on a murderous rampage. It was very personal. It was one of the worst crime scenes I’ve ever seen and as someone with a semi-forensics background; I can honestly say I’ve seen my share of them via photos. Watching both the television series and then the documentary made me hurt for you in a way I didn’t when I was sixteen. It put a human to your face instead of a ‘white woman’, which is all I thought when I was a teenager. Now, all these years later, I relate to you as a woman. I hurt for the way your life was taken and the fear that probably touched your soul as it became harder to breathe. I know people who were shot and killed by the men they loved. I know what it’s like to lose someone to domestic violence, but it seems like the ones I know got off easily in comparison to you. You suffered, and I do believe that was the intent of your murderer. All the evidence pointed to OJ Simpson. Two different television shows with tons of reenactment and actual documents and videos, including home videos from when he first got back to his house after the trial was over, make it hard to see anyone else at the forefront of your murder.
I believe with all my heart that OJ Simpson is the person who stole your life. He played God in your marriage and again in your death. The OJ I learned of through these movies is not who I knew when I was cheering for him in high school. Remember, I didn’t know much about him as a persona. Today, I write this letter heavily saddened for you. My heart actually feels the same heaviness for you that I felt from April Willis, the last person I knew to lose her life to domestic violence. As a woman and a mother, you deserved your life. You deserved to still be here, to see your beautiful children grow up and to experience aging. There is no ‘reason’ you should be dead aside from loving the wrong man.
I 100% believe that O.J. Simpson plotted and planned to take your life and ultimately executed it with a perfect sloppiness. His hateful love for you controlled HIM so much that the adrenaline he felt from killing you wouldn’t allow him to even clean up after himself. It was so obvious and with the background of your relationship being taken into account, it was expected. Your sister expected it. But I think she thought you were free just like you did. I’m sorry that you died Nicole. I am sorry that you were not free.
I’m sorry that OJ’s selfish need to dictate your every move led to the ending of your life and I’m even sorrier for how it ended. No one should have to die like that. No one should be taken from this world while their kids are just feet away. You shouldn’t have had to look over your shoulder day in and out worrying about your safety. You weren’t allowed to just be; you had to live in fear. You didn’t get the opportunity to grow into all the potential that you had because your life was deemed unworthy of living. OJ declared himself judge, jury, and executioner of your story and he ended it at his choosing without so much as an apologetic gloss over his eyes. I think internally, he was happy. I think every day that he sat at the table during the trial he replayed what he did in his head confidently. He was proud of himself and the further the Dream Team got him from a guilty verdict, the more arrogant he was in his demeanor, confidence and proudness. And as a woman, as a survivor and even as a future stepmother, I hurt for the unceremonious way you were taken from this world.
I apologize for the violence and fear you experienced throughout your relationship with OJ Simpson that led to your ultimate death. I am sorry that your children were left motherless and then forced to live with the man that made them that way. I’m sorry OJ was abusive and crazy and that the demons (mental illness) he lived with in his head did not get the appropriate help that he needed. I’m sorry that we tell women to ‘get out’ of violent relationships but we abandon them after that. We judge them when they don’t leave, but we don’t take into account that leaving could still result in their murder. I’m sorry that as a country and a people, we have yet to figure out a true safe exit for women who are in fear of their lives. It’s common sense (IMO) that if a man is trying to kill you in the relationship, leaving won’t stop him either. Woman to woman, I’m sorry for a lot of things.
…but I’m not sorry he got off Not Guilty.
I would vote him not guilty today if I was on the jury. I’m not even sorry for feeling that way. I am sorry that we live in a society and a country where Black Lives don’t matter so much that we as a people could knowingly see this man killed you and still feel obliged to support him and champion for him to get off. I’m sorry that we live in a country where black lives have mattered so little that the entire black population of my high school flooded the hallways rife with happiness from the not guilty verdict. I am sorry that we all know we don’t matter here and that we must take our victories when they come, even at the expense of others.
I am sorry that we have been sacrificial lambs for this country since our bodies were being dumped in the ocean on the journey here. I am sorry for my ancestors who were chained together and lying on top of each other, covered in piss and feces, fear and pain. I am sorry for the whips that snatched the leftover scent of Africa from our skin that would never again heal right. I am sorry for the thousands of black women that gave birth to mixed race babies that were a product of rape. I’m sorry for the times our men couldn’t save and protect us and the times that we couldn’t do the same for them. I am sorry that Mike Brown was gunned down in the street like a wild animal and I am sorry that there needed to be instances such as marches on Washington, Voters Rights, sit-ins, protests, bus boycotts and white’s only fountains, restrooms and restaurants. I am sorry that black people have always been good enough to entertain, but never great enough to be human.
And for that, we cheered when OJ got off.
Our verdict-rejoicing inadvertently condoned your death and I am sorry that this is the type of country we occupy.
This letter might sound like an oxymoron but I believe that is the nature of where we live. Not enough people actively believe that black lives really matter. This country was built BY us but not FOR us or even with us in mind. We started as property and although we are not such anymore, we are treated with resentment because of it. We are given NIGGER status every time we step out of our houses and unable to return at night. Every time we are shot as we are in cars (Sam Dubose, Philando Castile, Deravis Rogers), and crowds (Rekia Boyd), and Walmarts (John Crawford) and parks (Tamir Rice), we are reminded that we that too many white people, we are still pic-a-niggers. I remember after O.J. got off for your murder, he was sued in civil court by both you and Ron’s families. The case was won on you all’s behalf and he was ordered to pay. According to the documentary, he would hide his incoming money so that it would not be reported and turned over to the families. His disrespect of you even in death was a direct parallel of the treatment black people get on a daily basis. I’m sorry that it was you chosen to be the lamb for us…but honestly, it was about time someone was.
I’m sorry that black families are broken and disrupted forever by untimely deaths and the only thing they offer us as a way of pacification is to give us a few million dollars that will be scaled down tremendously by taxes. O.J. Simpson was ordered to pay $25 Million dollars to your and Ron Goldman’s families for taking your lives. Our families (black families) are often awarded sums in the amounts of 2.5 million and sometimes four. **UPDATE: Sandra Bland: 1.9 Million settlement. Tamir Rice: 6 Million. Akai Gurley: 4.5 Million. Philip Coleman: 4.95 Million. That’s not even adding up to the 25 million Ms. Simpson and Mr. Goldman’s families received. ***UPDATE: Michael Brown’s (no officer indictment) family settled for 1.2 million. Philando Castille’s (officer found not guilty) mother just settled for 2 million. (updated 6.26.17)
Our lives are not valued here; not judicially or financially and I’m sorrier about that more than anything. I’m sorry we needed a win of some kind. But after Tulsa, OK and after the Philly bombings, and of course the lynchings, shootings, rapes, Emmitt Till and a list that continues literally through TODAY, we deserved and needed a win. We played nice for too long and waited for those in office to give a damn long enough to actually recognize there even is a problem, much less help us fix it. This was not something anyone would have wanted to happen, but since it did . . . the acquittal was merely an opportunity for us to stick the shoe on the other foot.
We needed O.J. to get off for murder. It’s sick. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate. It’s not something to be proud of. But as I look at the climate of this country over time and including the here and now, and as sorry as I am that your life was taken in the manner of which it was, I am still not sorry that OJ got off.
I am sorry that he disappointed us and wouldn’t go away. He was supposed to tuck his guilty ass in the corners of society and find silence and solitude in his victory. If this were a case on Law & Order, he would have been found guilty. All the evidence pointed at him from every single angle. He should NOT have gotten away with murder but the elements of a corrupted legal system, a police force wild with badge carrying racists and a community desperate for their own justice set him up to win. We convinced ourselves that he didn’t kill you. We ignored the taped phone calls and the pictures of your swollen and bruised face. We pretended that all the blood droppings that tested positive for you and Ron, found in his home and truck, were merely a coincidence. We as a people dismissed your death and in return, OJ was supposed to disappear. He instead remained the same arrogant asshole he had always been and it caught up to him.
Honestly, he let us down. He wrote that tacky, insensitive book and ran through the black community making a mockery of himself and us as he tried to refresh his fifteen minutes. We were the people who celebrated with him and were proud of the Dream Team. Everyone bought an ‘if it don’t fit, you must acquit’ t-shirt and wore Not Guilty hats in honor of a man who didn’t even identify with us prior to this. As sick as I know it sounds, we were subconsciously and quite temporarily happy. FINALLY, the white people would get a taste of what it’s like to bury a loved one and no one be held accountable despite the obvious guilt. They would learn what it’s like to have the system be a massive FAILURE for them. That feeling that we never get to rid ourselves of –
-the feeling that your life and your loved one’s lives don’t matter, had been reciprocated. Having all the signs point to one person and their unlawful transgressions and that person be able to smile and walk away free from the courtroom was an infliction that up until that trial, was most likely to affect the black community. FINALLY, we got a win on our side.
I’m sorry this is the country we live in.
I’m sorry this is the letter I’m writing to your memory. I don’t support abuse and I don’t condone muder. Your children are adults now and O.J. Simpson is in prison. He will get the CHANCE of parole next year, but it’s a safe bet that he won’t get it. OJ has been punished for the murders he committed by way of a different, lesser crime; he will likely do every hour of his sentence. The trial is 20 years old but I’m sure your family as well the Goldman’s still feels the weight of your absence and the hurt of the not guilty verdict.
I’m really sorry that you lost your life, Nicole.
You absolutely did NOT deserve to. You were a beautiful woman. I champion for women of all races – for our equality, our safety, and our respect. I would champion for you too. I have championed for you.
I wish you wouldn’t have answered the door that night. I wish your mom had have remembered her glasses. I wish your children still had their mother here. They should have grown up WITH you; not memories of you.
I’m sorry. I really am.
But I’m not sorry O.J. Simpson got away with murder.
It was a win for the black community. A disgusting, filthy, blood win. A win we would have preferred to not want so badly. But it was a mirror of the type of loss and subsequent failure of justice that we experience far too often. Just ask the mothers of Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Remarley Graham. Freddie Grey. LaTasha Harlin. Akai Gurley. Trayvon. Tamir. Jordan. Michael. John. Keith. Bettie.Kevin.Leroy. James. Roy. Thomas Shipp. Miguel. Tiara. Sandra. Cornelius. Chandra. Jamar. Richard. Stephen. Michael Lee. Alonzo.
The list is literally endless. There are so many names of unarmed, unjustified deaths of black people that I just started using first names so I could write this overdue blog faster.
For that reason alone,
As sorry as I am that you lost your life, I’m not sorry that the white race spent a little time in our tap shoes. I’m not sorry that there was a sacrifice.
I’m not sorry that O.J. Simpson got away with murder.
Not when Alton Sterling just spent the night in the ground for the first time last night. And it won’t be much longer before someone else joins him –
-scratch that. Philando was the next day. When I started this letter, I intended it to speak on behalf of me and my people.
But now, I think I will let it just speak for me.
And I ain’t sorry.
*****9.28.16, 4:53PM – THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST 5 NEW NAMES ADDED SINCE i WROTE THIS. IT’S WAY MORE THAN FIVE; I’M JUST LYING TO MYSELF. POINT IS, THE LIST IS STILL GROWING….AND I’M STILL NOT SORRY. #nOTgUILTY