Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dad Popped Off and
Those Damn Mark Fuhrman Tapes
Episode 9 of The People v. O.J. Simpson

Source: FX
The one thing that the defense and prosecution agreed on was that former LAPD Det. Mark Fuhrman is a despicable, disgusting, hate-filled man.  Episode 9 is about the tapes where Fuhrman, who swore he hadn’t used the N-word in 10 years, was dropping N-bombs passionately. What hit me hard during this episode was not just him using the N-word, but his gloating over racially-motivated police brutality.  The media tended to focus on him using racist language, when there should’ve been a greater discussion of his racist acts of violence as a policeman.

He abused the privileges of his badge to target people he hated, instead of uphold the law. That made me sad and angry.  Twenty years later, this still resonates. While watching I couldn’t help but think of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Alex Nieto, Mitrice Richardson, Eric Gardener and so many others. I have family members who work in law enforcement. Cops like Fuhrman hurt our community and don’t make it easier for police officers who serve with dignity.

Fuhrman managed to piss off everyone in that courtroom: the judge, the jurors, the victims’ families—everybody.  Just listening to how he describes Judge Ito’s wife you can tell he’s not only a racist, but a misogynist.  He pled the fifth to the question about manufacturing or planting evidence in this case. I don’t believe he handled the evidence with integrity at the crime scene. His failure and ignorance not to follow protocol when gathering evidence played a major role in the prosecution losing.

Fuhrman has gone on to have a successful media and writing career. I noticed younger people on Twitter were bugging out because they realized the Mark Fuhrman on FOX News is the same one depicted the other night. I watched a story on “Good Morning America” about book sales related to the trial. They reported Mark Fuhrman sold more books in the last few months than he has in the past five years. Somebody likes him and his beliefs. By the way,Johnnie Cochran didn’t cross-examine Fuhrman as shown in the miniseries. Attorney Gerald Uelman asked him about planting evidence. O.J. had so many lawyers. I don’t even remember the name Gerald Uelman.

Dad Loses His Cool

Monday, March 28, 2016

The OJ Jury Life Is No Joke
Episode 8 of The People v. O.J. Simpson

Photo Credit: Michael Becker/FX Network
Could you go eight months without television, the freedom to read magazine and newspaper articles of your choice, limited visits with your family, no swimming pool, plus you're eating a lot of hotel food? As they say in the hood, “I’m not about that life.” The OJ jurors walked in thinking they were going to get away from reality, have a role in this “glamorous” trial and be done in a few weeks. WRONG.

This episode made jury duty look more like a prison sentence. I remember when jurors were dropping like flies. I didn’t know what was going on. I had no idea that the defense and prosecution were researching jurors’ backgrounds, in hopes of one side getting their dream jury. 

My shero in this episode was the woman who said to hell with this, flipped out, and got herself removed from the jury. I don’t know if that was her plan, or she really snapped, but good for her for putting her sanity first. If what the miniseries is depicting is true, those jurors had a terrible experience.

The courts greatly limited the jurors’ media consumption because the Simpson trial was everywhere and they didn’t want the jurors’ decision swayed. I remember hearing that officers cut out any Simpson related story on commentary in newspaper and magazines.  They would go on private group trips to the movies and I think athletic games. 

I have served on a jury and I couldn’t handle being sequestered like that for nearly a year. If this trial was today, jurors would probably have no access to the internet and social media. I wouldn't be surprised if their smartphones would be taken away. Remember, jurors don't get paid much serve. Living in those conditions, for a long time, but with a very small wage--wow. I can see why some hung in there for a book deal.

Next week’s episode is going to be something else. I watched it in advance because of my press credentials. It  is VERY powerful. I'm not saying everything they show is 100% accurate, but it’s not to be missed. It's about the Mark Fuhrman tapes. This is a huge turning point in the trial. With all of the stories on racially-motivated police brutality happening today, this episode really hits you. Here's a preview: 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Listen to Me TODAY on
The Brian Copeland Show

Tune into The Brian Copeland Show today on KGO Newstalk 810 at 1pm PST. I will be on at the top of the show discussing being an Oakland teen and daughter of Chris Darden during the O.J. Simpson trial.

I interviewed Brian Copeland in 2011 about his one-man play on depression called The Waiting Period. Now I'm on the other side of the mic. We're both passionate about mental health. Hopefully we can work that into discussion as well as my African-American erotica research.

 Tune in!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Glove
Episode 7 of The People v. O.J. Simpson

Photo credit: FX network
By Jenee Darden

I’ve been eager to see three scenes in this miniseries: the portrayal of my uncle who was living with AIDS and drug addiction, my dad breaking down at the end of the trial during a press conference and the glove scene.

I didn't know what to expect on Tuesday night. I watched TV dad Sterling K. Brown in the glove scene like:


The glove not fitting on O.J. was huge. The media and legal analysts ripped my father up. I felt so bad for him.  I know he was trying to do the right thing and it backfired. It was hard to watch the news for days. The criticism of my father got to me. In my 15-year-old mind I didn’t like people on TV saying mean things about my Daddy.  X-Men cartoons, Batman the Animated Series and books kept me sane. In the miniseries, Shapiro tries on the gloves in the courtroom during a break and notices they were too small for him. He goes back to the Dream Team and they think of a strategy, to lure my dad and Marcia into having O.J. try on the glove.

My dad’s memoir In Contempt, tells a different story. He wrote that Shapiro asked to see the gloves and take them to lock up. Judge Ito said no. The prosecution was concerned that the defense would use the gloves so O.J. could practice struggling to put them on.

There was definitely some truth to the Jedi mind tricks the defense played with the prosecution. The scene where F. Lee Bailey, played by Nathan Lane, whispers in TV dad’s ear. It was like the devil trying to make you sin. I really love Nathan Lane in this series. Still, I read no mention of Bailey actually doing that in my father's book. Also in the miniseries, TV dad decides to try on the gloves despite Marcia’s objection.  In my real dad’s memoir, he said he got Marcia’s approval. He wrote:

“She looked grim. ‘I don’t need this shit right now, Chris.’
We talked some more and she said she would only consider it if someone with hands as big as Simpson’s—someone like [LAPD Det.] Phil Vannatter—tried one of the gloves on first. So Vannatter came up and easily slid his sausage fingers into a similar glove.
‘OK, ‘ Marcia relented.”

They tried on the gloves and we know how that turned out. The scene where TV dad called the Goldmans to apologize is true.

Marcia Clark has said that if the gloves would be the cause of them losing the case, then they weren’t going to win anyway. Still, she wasn't happy. My father wrote that Marcia didn’t talk to him for days and he was shut out of important meetings for a while.

When I was in journalism school at USC, we received F’s if our stories had a factual error or a misspelling.  No matter how big or small, no matter how beautifully written the article—you mess up, you got a big ass red F on your paper.  Making an error is heavy for jounalists. I just couldn’t imagine making a mistake while literally the world is watching.  As an adult, I have a greater appreciation for my father getting up the next day and still trying.  

Watching the glove scene and looking back reminds me of something Les Brown says. “If life knocks you down, try and land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. And if you get up, you can stand up. And if you stand up, you can fight for your dreams once again.”

Despite the death threats, the racists letters, harassment by the paparazzi, being called a Tom and a traitor, the weight of his brother living with AIDS and then the glove—my father still kept pushing.

While the portrayal of the glove scene is not 100% accurate, I agree with this great GQ interview with Sterling K. Brown, that the miniseries humanized my father in that moment.

My father never stopped believing the gloves were O.J.’s. Nicole Brown purchased the same brand of gloves for O.J. back East. There are photos and TV footage of him wearing the gloves. Shrinkage and the latex gloves O.J. wore under the leather gloves are why they didn’t fit. Later on, my father had O.J. try on a replica of the gloves—new pair, no latex gloves underneath. Those did fit. Unfortunately by then it was too late.

Other Stuff

Cochran’s ex-wife, ex-mistress drama was interesting.  There’s more on that here.  

The beef between Shapiro and Cochran is fascinating and humorous on the show. The scene where Shapiro walked into the courtroom with his police alliance pin cracked me up. I find it interesting that Shapiro may have been trying to undermine Cochran.

I’m glad there was a scene with O.J.’s kids. Take a minute and think about what they went through. Their mother is gone and their father is accused of killing her. That’s heavy.

There are  a few scenes of TV dad and Marcia Clark going on a road trip to Oakland. It's true they traveled to the Bay Area.  I first met Marcia Clark when they visited Oakland.

I don’t know if they came up for a party. My dad liked to get his party on back then so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true. As for that scene in the hotel hallway,  I don’t know if that happened and I’m not asking.

I text my dad recently about people’s obsession with rumors of him and Marcia Clark being romantically involved. He replied back that people see it like an episode of Scandal.  Ha! 

Friday, March 18, 2016

About That Amazing Marcia Clark Episode
The People v. O.J. Simpson Episode 6

Photo Credit: FX Nework

By Jenee Darden

Somebody give Sarah Paulson her Emmy now!  The "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" episode moved me. This is my favorite episode so far.

Marcia Clark was going through it. Not everything in the show is accurate, but it gives some insight into the madness my father and Marcia Clark survived during those 8+ months. While my father dealt with racism and community backlash, Marcia battled sexism. Race still dwarfs sexism when people discuss the trial. But, sexism was a major issue too.

I first met Marcia Clark when she and my father took a road trip up to the Bay Area. My mom, Marcia and I talked about how ridiculous of the media to put her clothes and hairstyle on trial. I don’t recall fashion experts criticizing Cochran for his bald spot or suggesting Shapiro do better in his tie selection. This all because Marcia Clark is a woman.

If Marcia Clark was Marcus Clark, hair and attire wouldn’t be an issue. Some people told me back then that Marcia came off mean to them. I responded that she’s a nice woman. Which is true. Now that I’m older, I would’ve responded that she’s a prosecutor in a murder trial, not a Miss America contestant. She should be tough. That’s part of her job. Marcia Clark was nice, but she made it clear to me that she was not feeling the sexist bullshit. Of course the ordeal hurt her, but she still stood strong in the storm.

And in that storm was being a single parent of two small children, getting childcare, going through a divorce with her second husband, a childrens’ custody battle, ex-husbands drama, people critiquing her appearance AND her legal skills, rumors, having to wear a disguise when going out, hungry paparazzi and sexualization. I'm sure more could be added to this list. 

The mother of her first ex-husband sold topless photos from their beach vacation in 1979 to the tabloids. Which influenced some people to take her less seriously. But our society doesn’t question professional men who go to topless bars after work. Oh those oppressive, sexist double-standards.

You remember that scene where she’s buying tampons? Then the male store clerk says something like, “Oooh they’re going to get it in court tomorrow.” I don’t know if that’s true, but ladies can you imagine?! I would've needed a lot of therapy, acupuncture, wine and prayer if I were in her shoes.

Marcia Clark was a guest on Ellen recently. Notice her expression when Ellen reads Tweets from people who say she was treated unfairly. I wonder if people now having a better understanding of her challenges gives her some added peace. With more people talking about feminism, maybe this new understanding of Clark will have a positive impact in her professional life as well. 

People tell me that they would break if they shared my experience. I look at my father and Marcia Clark and I can't believe they survived all of that craziness. It's a huge testament to their strength. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Check Me Out In The Daily Mail, Marie Claire and Inside Edition.

I have been a busy bee between covering The People v. O.J. Simpson and also being covered in the media. Marie Claire and the Daily Mail both published articles about me, the blog, and O.J. trial stuff. Tonight I'll be on Inside Edition. Check your local listings.

I must say that I've been putting my journalism degree and media experience to good use!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Check Out My LA Times Story

One of the proudest moments of my media career is writing my story about growing up during the O.J. trial for the LA Times. Writing this article was a therapeutic process for me. I am overjoyed by how this came out. This article gives more detail of what I endured. And I've received so much positive feedback.

Read the article here.

Thank you everyone!

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.

Access Hollywood Asks Jenee Darden about Dad Chris Darden's Rumored Affair With Marcia Clark

Are we really going there? 

This is how conversations usually go when people figure out I'm related to "that Darden":

--Are you related to the bald guy from the O.J. Trial?

--Wow. Do you think O.J. did it?

--So, did your dad hook up with Marcia Clark?

Since people seem to be interested in whether I know my father's sexual history, I ask them about who their parents slept with. Apparently people don't like to talk about their parents' sex lives because they change the conversation quick. LOL! Mind you, adults asked me this question even when I was a teenager.

I share this because people were impressed with how I responded to that question during the Access Hollywood interview. I'm used to it after 20+ years. Being older helps because I handle it better.

I'm glad my interview with Access Hollywood turned out so well and they gave me a space to share my story. Check me out around 2:15. I also touched upon the hardships my father and family faced.
This is my first national, television interview. For that reason, Access Hollywood holds a special place in my media heart. Like Sade once said, "It's never as good as the first time."

As for whether my father and Marcia were seeing each other, I asked my dad during a car ride around the time of the trial.  He said no. In other interviews, he won't confirm or deny the rumors. I told Access Hollywood, "That's grown folks' business" because I was a kid at the time. And you know what? It's still none of my business.


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