Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Darden Dilemma, N-Word and Racial Backlash Against Chris Darden’s Daughter:
Episode 5 The People Vs. O.J. Simpson

That prosecutor life ain't easy.
Source: FX
We’ve reached the halfway mark of the series! It’s going by so fast. Make sure to read until the end because I have some information about that “nigga please” scene between Cochran and my dad.

This week’s episode (directed by John Singleton) starts to dip into the backlash my father faced from the black community when he joined the prosecution.

Actor Sterling K. Brown, who plays my father Chris Darden, made me a little emotional during the scene when he asked his superior if he could do interviews with the black press. Black folks were calling my father a sellout. Cochran fanned the flames in interviews insinuating my father was a token

It’s true that my father did go to DA Gil Garcetti and asked to get linked up with the black press, but was told no. Looking at this as a media professional, I wonder if communicating with the black press would’ve made my father’s life much easier at that time. Maybe black folks could’ve learned more about him as a person, instead of defaulting him to a traitor. I don’t think his media interactions would’ve swayed black people’s support from Simpson. But they might of eased off of my father. The shunning from the black community weighed heavy on him. Other black prosecutors labeled my father’s struggle as a black prosecutor the  "Darden Dilemma."

From my father’s memoir InContempt:

“I understand that some black prosecutors have a name for the pressure they feel from those in the community who criticize them for standing up and convicting black criminals. They call it the "Darden Dilemma'."

From Newsweek:

That passage, like much of "In Contempt," resonates with anger, sorrow, defiance and pain. The pain
he blames in large measure on Johnnie Cochran, the silky, slick lawyer he once admired who painted him, for the world and to Darden's dismay, as "an Uncle Tom, a traitor used by The Man." Darden makes clear, however, that he was familiar with the charge long before O. J. Simpson burst into his life, and he defends himself against it at length and well. Recalling his aggressive offensive against black gangbangers, he asks, indignantly, rhetorically: "How could I put other brothers in jail? How could I not? As long as they were victimizing old people and making orphans of children, how could I not?"


One of the reasons why my father became a prosecutor was to help the black community. Like the quote from him above, we have criminals in our communities too. There are rapists, murderers, child molesters, kidnappers, child sex traffickers, adults pimping children, batterers, rogue cops etc and they are terrorizing our communities. Should we let them continue to make our neighborhoods and homes unsafe because they’re black?

I agree that those accused deserve a right to a fair trial and legal representation. We need black lawyers on the defense and the prosecution sides.

There’s the Darden Dilemma and there’s what I call Darden Daughter Dilemma. That’s when the backlash your father received from his involvement in a high -profile case, spills into your own life. You know, guilty by association. A few years after Johnnie Cochran died, I interviewed for a position at a black newspaper in Los Angeles. When I walked into their headquarters, there were photos of Cochran on the wall. I rarely told people about my father and I damn sure wasn’t going to say anything then. I interviewed with a panel of black journalists. The interview was going well. They were impressed with my personality and USC education, interning at Time in Europe, covering the 7/7 bombings in London, my clips, etc. When I say it went well, we laughed during the interview. Then an African man on the panel noticed my last name and asked if I was related to Christopher Darden.

I could lie and say “no” but they’re journalists. They would eventually figure me out. Or I’ll be honest since they got to know me for me. I chose the truth. Instantly, all of their smiles disappeared, with the exception of the African man. The room got quiet and they ended the interview. The African man kindly escorted me out. I followed up with the newspaper to see if they were still interested in me. They didn’t return my calls or emails. 

During the O.J. trial, I was a 15-year-old kid, living in East Oakland, wearing overalls and obsessed with the group TLC. Maybe they felt like they avenged O.J. by not considering me for the job. If people held a grudge against me for something my father did 10+ years ago, I wonder if talking to the black press back would’ve made a difference. It speaks to how much the case meant to people.


What Really Went Down?

Twitter turned into the playground during the scene where Cochran turns to my TV dad and says, “Nigga please.” I could imagine the “Ooooohs” from people on Twitter as if they were kids watching a fight. This was following my TV dad’s request to the court that the n-word be removed from the trial. I asked my dad if that “nigga please” comment happen and he said it did not happen.

The O.J. Trial introduced wording into our everyday language. I believe the term “n-word” actually came from the trial. My father requesting the n-word be banned from the court was true.

I want to more grrrrr in my father’s character. My father is from Richmond, Calif. He grew up in the hood and can be tough. Sterling K. Brown says we’ll see more of that side in future episodes.

I need to find out if the Dream Team staged O.J.’s house to look more Afrocentric. O.J. popping off at my dad for sitting on his bench is true.

Speaking of homes, somebody get  African art to my TV dad’s house! I do not like that bland art in my TV dad’s bedroom. My father had a bachelor pad, but he displayed black art on his walls and tables.  And he had some kind of black music playing whether it was Earth, Wind and Fire or Hammer.

That’s all I got for you this week. I’m ready for episode 6.






28 comments:

  1. Hey sweet girl,

    Seems like we ALL--black, white, brown, whatever, constantly get blamed for what our families/ ancestors did, or for what other members of our various groups are DOING.

    Don't get why it's so hard to remember that we are all INDIVIDUALS, & not responsible for the bad behavior of others. Hopefully w/ standup peeps like your dad, who put integrity above social groupings, maybe EVENTUALLY we'll get over this....?

    Anyway, I want to read your dad's book now--& TLC is an AWESOME group!

    Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately we live in a "guilty by association" society. You may have seen on the show the woman playing Mrs. Shapiro lost friends during the case. I watched an interview with Khloe Kardashian and she said her family experienced backlash from the police. Families on both sides were affected. Get my dad's book and read on. The show has made me read his book again. And yes TLC is AWESOME. You have good taste in music. :)

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  2. Aunt SnickelfritzMarch 10, 2016 at 7:08 AM

    Maybe it's the Mom in me, but I just want to give your dad (and Marcia Clark) both a hug and promise them it's going to get better. Even though I lived through the trial, and consumed many books about it, (not your Dad's yet - but it's on order right now!) I am still just gobsmacked at how horrible the press and the defense were to them as individuals. All they were trying to do was their job. The next time you see your dad, please give him a big hug from this old lady in Kansas and tell him he is pretty damn remarkable.

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    1. I'm sure they would've have appreciated your love and support back then. Thank you for your compassion. I will send your message to my dad. He reads my blog so he might even see it.

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  3. Girl, I was 15 too, and Never even heard of OJ Simpson in 1994.I really didn't even watch the trial. But of course,whether I wanted too or not made aware. I did feel bad, that your dad was treated like that through. In 1994, I guess I can admit, oh they got a black game on that side. That's as far as my thoughts went through. But still...

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    1. I knew O.J. Simpson as the Hertz dude and the brotha from Naked Gun. The miniseries shows there was much more to what people saw on TV during the trial.

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  4. Girl, I was 15 too, and Never even heard of OJ Simpson in 1994.I really didn't even watch the trial. But of course,whether I wanted too or not made aware. I did feel bad, that your dad was treated like that through. In 1994, I guess I can admit, oh they got a black game on that side. That's as far as my thoughts went through. But still...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing! Whether you wanted to watch it or not back then, you couldn't avoid it.

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  5. I bought your father's book as soon as It came out. I bought almost all of the books associated with the trial. I remember seeing your grandfather on Barbara Walters, and the pride he had in his son was so beautiful.

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    1. (I should also add that I was 33 at the time. Much older than you...LOL)

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    2. Oh wow you remember the Barbara Walters interview. I haven't watched that in so long. Thanks for buying my dad's book.

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  6. I still in elementary when the trial was taking place but I remember the part when the verdict was said and the backlash afterwards kinda. It was a very divisive trial and I commend your father for going with his conscience on this one

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    1. Thank you. The country was very divided, Much like today.

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  7. Hi Jenee-- I read your op-ed in the LA Times this morning. Found it really interesting. Glad they linked to your blog. Rock on :) - Zohreen

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    1. Thank you so much for for reading my LA Times piece and my blog. 😊

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  8. Got connected here through you interview! Great read! I was so sad upon reading what happened in your interview... that's just so terrible! I thought I had it bad trying to find a position in little Milwaukee since I just graduated, but that would've killed me! You're one tough cookie. Great read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all have our tough times. I personally know looking for a job in a tough market isn't easy either. Thank you and good luck with your job search!

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  9. Got connected here through you interview! Great read! I was so sad upon reading what happened in your interview... that's just so terrible! I thought I had it bad trying to find a position in little Milwaukee since I just graduated, but that would've killed me! You're one tough cookie. Great read!

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  10. I'm also from East Oakland and was 13 when the trial began. I remember the uproar of Rodney King because my father was randomly car jacked and beat up by some brothers on 81st and E14 during the time of the riots. I always wondered "why him. He's black too". Black folks were pissed. Still, my parents never really outwardly showed disdain for your dad. I think they-like most folks- believed Orenthal was guilty and the prosecution didn't make the case. It was quite a year though. I'm sorry you had to live through that.

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    1. Oh no! That's awful what happened to your dad. Especially for it to happen on the day of the Rodney King revolt. Thank you for your compassion. I hope your dad is okay.

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  11. I'm a white female and I believe your father was color blind and a victim of bigotry!
    It's great to see the show and learn more about what s brave, smart, and compassionate guy Chris Darden was!!!!!
    Love your blog!!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and for reading my blog!

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  12. Enjoyed reading your LATimes article this morning!!!!!

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  13. So glad I found your blog! I can't believe that happened to you at an interview. I was 19 during the trial and watched every day. I can't imagine how crazy this is to see someone playing your dad on tv. Xxoo Big hugs to you.

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    1. At first it was weird watching someone play my father but now I'm starting to get used to it. Thank you! Hugs!!

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  14. I was 23 when the murders happened and as much as I wanted to believe OJ didn't do it, I remember watching the trial and being overwhelmed by the evidence presented against him. Your father and Marcia Clark became sort of my heroes back in the day. I remember the personal attacks against them and couldn't believe it. Neither of them were on trial, except in the press.
    I am sorry you had to deal with that growing up. Kids can be mean and adults can be incredibly stupid. I am very glad I found your blog.

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    Replies
    1. Nobody wants to see a celebrity they love fall from grace. And you're right, my father and Marcia were on trial too in a way. Thank you for your kind words and I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

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