Sun, Aug 2, 2020
Read in 5 minutes
I promised at the end of the last article to tell you about Milgram & O.J. I am so excited you decided to come back. It takes privilege and power to effect the change we want to see in the world, so those of us with the privilege must never be ashamed of that privilege neither must we misuse it. Not everyone has the privilege and access because of the social environment they exist, so when you do, make sure to use that power the right way. Do not just have disdain towards being oppressed, but towards oppression in everyday life. Let's get to today's cookie before the dodo burns.
Firstly, if you have not read the first part of this series, make sure you do that to fully appreciate the whole line of thought I’m trying to pass across. There was a man in the 70’s who rose to global prominence, it is of note that he was not like many other men at the time. He became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2000 yards in a 14-game regular season; which was no ordinary feat at the time. This man is known as Orenthal James Simpson made a song titled “The story of O.J”. There are so many opinions about those words and I’ll tell you mine in a little bit.
Let’s circle back (my favorite Zoom lingo) to the chit chat about privilege. There is one thing that is true, as long as you are alive, there is someone whom you are more privileged than, all you need do is some introspection. Black, White, Men, Women, Straight, Gay, Believer, Atheist, wherever you identify, there is something you can do and you would be excused for it, that other people cannot afford to do without being judged. You hear a lot about white and male privilege, mainly because throughout history, these seem to have sustainably been at the helm of affairs and oppression, however, every other people have their own privilege that they enjoy. It is important to check your privilege and use it in the promotion of what is right. Black people should not be excused of racist comments because they’ve been oppressed, the LGBTQ community should not excused either for wrongfully enforcing their opinions on straight people because it was done to them. If a hand was dealt to you and you hated it so much, why do the same to others ?
A decade prior to the prominence of O.J, arose another, although completely different who sought to discover the darkness that possessed the souls of men. He was obsessed with finding out what influenced regular citizens become vicious killers in Nazi Germany. This man was at the top of his field, although deemed controversial in many circles at the time. He did not let this deter him, his name; Stanley Milgram, the American social psychologist at Yale. Dr. Milgram conducted a famous shock experiment to examine obedience in the 60’s during his time at Yale. This experiment focused on the conflict between obedience to constituted authority as against personal conscience. If you grew up in Milgram’s childhood, the Holocaust could possibly impact your thought process the way it did Milgram’s. You may have questions such as “why did people willingly kill Jews during the holocaust ?” or “was everyone who followed Nazi instructions innately evil ?”. It was for questions like this that Milgram dedicated his life. He developed a theory that situations were a strong determinant for human behavior. In simple terms, you never know how you’ll actually act until you’re faced with certain situations and choices. You have heard those tasking brain teasers like “If your mom and your wife were drowning, whom would you save ?”
He conducted the shock experiment which involved instructing persons to carry out a memory test, several volunteers, two groups; the first, students and the other, tutor. The tutor read out word pairs and the students are to recall and answer back correctly when required. If the students said anything incorrect, the overseer, instructs the tutor to administer electric jolts from as little as 15 Volts up to 450 Volts. Even in a situation where a participant with a heart condition wanted out of the process, the overseer instructed the tutor to keep administering the shock, and continue, he did. The results showed that 65% (two-third) of the participants (tutors) continued to the highest voltage of 450V, and all of those tutors reached at least 300V. The thing unknown to these tutors was the fact that Milgram had deceived them; those students were not being shocked at all, they just acted like they were. This test was to examine how ordinary people from day to day life could go against their own better judgement when in a position of power, or when under seeming pressure from superior authority. This shows that when power is in the wrong hand, it would be misused and even too much power in one right hand can become overwhelming and blur the lines between good and evil for the wielder, thereby making such a person tyrannical.
In conclusion, what O.J knew that many people at the time had no idea of was that, even in the U.S, being black wasn’t an ultimate guilty/death sentence. He was O.J Simpson,not O.J the black man. Power is far greater a weapon than race or gender. Even until today many people watch the O.J tapes or excellent representation on Netflix and think to themselves that O.J did committed those crimes, but in criminal court, he was acquitted. That truth still stands today which is why a black president ruled the United States. In conclusion, you’ll have a lot of privileged moments in your life, make sure you use it for the promotion of justice, peace and truth, because it wouldn’t last forever and the pain of regret stings for a long time.
Thanks for making it to the end of this series. If you have not subscribed, please subscribe and share this article. I know it was very long but I do hope it was worth it.