It has been one week since the verdict was rendered in the O.J. trial and people are still buzzing about it today. I'm a bit skeptical in writing about the verdict itself, but I will talk about the atmosphere during the reading and how it could possibly affect the relations between the many cultures.
The one thing that caught my eye rather quickly was the amount of people in the room. It seemed as though the world had stopped to see if a sports legend would fall even further than he has. The mood was very tense in my opinion. Heart beats could be heard from the entire room like that of a Formula One race car idling in the pits. People looked to be short of breath as Judge Ito handed back the verdict envelope to the jury foreperson for reading. As O.J. stood up and faced them, I, like many others, probably, began to think of a thousand scenarios. What if he was found guilty Ÿ do they need to prepare for a possible riot? Will he get the death sentence? How will this be viewed by the black community? Will the feelings of the Rodney King incident be a great factor in how blacks view the legal system?
What if they find him innocent? Will the feeling of "buying" freedom be the focal point in how the legal system is viewed? Will people feel that the jury let him off because of who he is, or that the jury was a majority of blacks? How will women feel, to see a man with a record of domestic abuse go free?
There he stood waiting to hear what some people figured would not come for weeks, but instead came in five hours!
The entire room was very still and the air was thick from deep breaths. I looked right into O.J.'s eyes, he too took a deep breath and heard the same thing that the rest of us heard. "We, the jury, find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty."
For a brief second I could not move. My body was motionless, but out of the corners of my eyes I saw that others were the same way. We had been waiting for a verdict from day one. Whether it had been guilty or not, I think it was the feeling of it being all over, to a degree. When it finally sunk in, my emotions and feelings took over. We all know how I felt Ÿ just look at the cover of last Wednesday's Wildcat..
After the verdict, I looked around the room and saw something that was quite interesting Ÿ the people. The notion that the case was going to fall into a racial factor gave implications that all the black people felt one way as did white people. I did not see such a division in that room. What I saw were people who felt one way and people who felt the other way. There were whites, blacks, browns, yellows, greens, reds, etc., discussing their thoughts and ideas in a forum that seemed not to play off race, but rather off dialogue and content.
It was quite inspiring to see all these people talking amongst each other on one commonality: the verdict. I do feel that it is a bit morbid that the one common ground for all of us to converse on would be on the loss of two lives. If there is any good to come out of this trial, it was seeing at least some sort of stepping stone towards the goal of world peace. If we could get together with others and just talk about the different things we have in common, then maybe that would be one more step towards ending the plague of racism. If we could learn not to separate ourselves from each other, but rather learn to work together, then understanding and acceptance is sure to follow.
In closing I would like to say that in no way do I consider myself a great journalist. I'm just starting off in this adventure so my skills are not as refined as the staff of the Wildcat, but I'm learning. People have asked me, "What exactly are your articles about?" Well, here is a preview of articles I'm working on. "Cartoons; Past and Present," "Interracial Dating II," "Battle of the Sexes; Men Win!!"
Some articles will be serious, others just humorous and lighthearted. Please keep reading. Thanks!
P.S. Happy birthday Mom. I love you!
Eric T. Watkins is an industrial psychology senior. His column appears every Tuesday.
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