Getting Something Positive from the OJ Simpson Case – Nu Leadership Series

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

At work, I wait for the trial results. All I can hear was silence in the room. The results are announced. Some quietly cheer. Others cry. Reruns plague the television. Some celebrate. Others grieve. OJ was free, but America was not.

How could this happen in America? I postulate that this was America’s modern day diversity litmus test. “OJ” has become the “Most Hated Man in America.” Schuetz and Lilley, legal experts, argue that the case hit five “hot button” legal issues including fairness of jury nullification.

After this trial, those culturally diverse organizations became a test-bed for social unrest. How could my co-worker believe that OJ was innocent? The case hit many social “hot” buttons and urban legends, such as (a) black men-white women, (b) abandonment of black communities, (c) the rich and poor, (d) good and bad cops, (e) sexual taboos, (f) justice versus privilege, and (g) immigrant competence and leadership (namely Judge Ito).

Was the trial really about OJ or about us? Tsui and Gutek, demographic gurus, maintain that despite the many equal opportunity initiatives, there is ample unrest about diversity. They explain, “Below the surface of increased activities and some apparent progress in diversity efforts by companies lie feelings of discomfort, frustration, confusion, and even anger, among women and men, ethnic minorities and the white majority.”

Across the global heartland, US leaders proclaim Americans get along and are the models for global unity. Yet, a celebrity murder trial revealed a social chink in our armor. Sadly, we have not taken the time to truly understand each other.

References:

Schuetz, J. & Lilley, L. (1999). The O. J. Simpson Trials: Rhetoric, Media, and the Law. Received on July 11, 2006, from http://www.siu.edu/~siupress/titles/f99_titles/schuetz_simpson.htm.

Tsui, A. & Gutek, B. (1999). Demographic Differences in Organizations. New York: Lexington Books.
© 2006 by Daryl D. Green