Many African-Americans reacted with disbelief and shock when they learned that O.J. Simpson was the prime suspect in the brutal murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her male friend. I, too, was incredulous...
I was annoyed that the media, encouraged by incriminating news leaks from Los Angeles justice officials, seemed to delight in the fall of this "all-American hero" - O.J., the handsome, former football star, sportscaster, actor, millionaire, who had risen from poverty to the top with a blond, former homecoming queen on his arm. He had it all, according to the American ideal - at least on the surface.
Then the myth exploded!
The magnitude of such destructiveness to his ex-wife, his children and himself was incomprehensible to me. If he did commit the crime, what possessed him to throw his whole life away in a moment of passion and rage? How could it be explained? Was he mentally ill? Was he temporarily insane?
Or was O.J. not crazy in the legal sense but collapsed emotionally when his wife spurned his reconciliation offer, then allegedly murdered her with the lethal attitude, "If I can't have her, nobody will."
We know from released 911 tapes that he was a jealous, possessive, abusive husband. This final heinous act may have been provoked by Nicole's rejection of him as a Black man. Perhaps she, as a so-called ideal California blond, symbolized the American dream for O.J., and losing her revealed that he could never be totally accepted into the White world he coveted. But this is pure speculation.
I don't know enough about O.J. to know what motivated him. Any maybe he doesn't either.
The lesson to be learned here is that domestic violence (usually males battering and murdering their female companions) must be acknowledged and prevented.
O.J., from news accounts, seemed to operate in a sexist, narcissistic manner, conveying that he was not only possessive but felt he owned Nicole like a piece of chattel...
O.J. mostly chose his own course and, if guilty, succumbed tragically to its pitfalls...
Alvin F. Poussaint M.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School