From Orenthal to Obama

From Orenthal to Obama


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



O.J. yesterday said he only wanted his stuff back. How many of us want the world back

after climate changes? We pay no attention to O.J. today because O.J. does not represent

 the “new” O. Obama is change we can believe in.



Books by E. Ethelbert Miller


How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love  /  Fathering Words  / In Search of Color Everywhere


First Light: New and Selected Poems Where are the Love Poems for Dictators?  /  Whispers, Secrets and Promises


Beyond The Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century  / Season of Hunger/Cry of Rain


Synergy: An Anthology of Washington D.C. Black Poetry


*   *   *   *   *


From Orenthal to Obama: Who Has the Juice?

By E. Ethelbert Miller


It was difficult for me to look at O.J. being sentenced yesterday and not think of the automobile industry. The downfall of Detroit is also evident by the won/lost record of the Detroit Lions but that’s another E-Note. June 17, 1994 and we are all watching the police chasing a white Ford Bronco. The first reality show? Remember all the discussion around O.J. and race? Remember when we looked at O.J. on the cover of magazines and wondered who “painted” him darker?

Orenthal. I was never an O.J. Simpson fan. My sister was always annoyed by how his head moved when he was doing television commentary. O.J. had a head that moved one way and a body that moved in the other direction. Maybe this is what made him a great running back. My image of O.J. will always be frozen in 1973. The last game in the year he ran for 2,000 yards. I can still see O.J. running in the snow becoming for the moment mythical. Today one only has to look to Orenthal to discover the Oracle of our lives. O.J. represents how we view and interpret truth as well as justice in our society. The fact that his life is being overshadowed by Obama at this moment represents our best opportunity to understand the change that is taking place in our society. How do we measure what’s going on with our economy right now? Who do you believe—Wall Street or Orenthal? Why? Consider how we once measured our lives by watching the O.J. Simpson trial. Today we are all wearing Obama caps and waiting for January 20th. What’s going on? In many ways O.J. represents an obsolete black man. The star football player and media personality reduced to a vanishing line phone or telephone booth. Who killed the old technology?

Who murdered our old industries? Do we blame it all on greed? O.J. yesterday said he only wanted his stuff back. How many of us want the world back after climate changes? We pay no attention to O.J. today because O.J. does not represent the “new” O. Obama is change we can believe in. No one believes O.J. is innocent and didn’t kill Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman back in 1994. Overlook the fact that he was found innocent in 1997. We refuse to accept the verdict the same way we refuse to hold the oil companies accountable to anything. Explain the Orenthal and perhaps we unlock life’s deep secrets and we save the planet and ourselves. O.J. is going to jail and many of us are heading for the unemployment lines. O- for many of us. Obsolete. We can no longer interface with the highly technological revolution that is transforming everything at a pace that will accelerate if it isn’t regulated. The economic markets out of control almost represents the internet. What happens when we begin to see the emergence of “pure” democracy? How do you regulate that? Enter -Obama and hooking up an entire new generation like the electric line that once blocked for O.J. Where we once counted yards for O.J. we now count votes for Obama. As the world turns hot—climate warming as well as wars and (silly) pirates—Obama replaces Orenthal. The rebirth of the cool. Obama as slick as a new cell phone. A black man who loves his BlackBerry. A man who breaks the chains while another is taken away in them. In the old days the networks could follow the white Ford Bronco—today we can create our own fantasy O.J. game. Did he do it or was it you? A way of life is ending and some of us are holding onto those memories of O.J. rushing for 2000 yards in the snow. It’s either that or hoop dreams with Obama in 2009.

Mr. Miller has served as a visiting professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and adjunct professor at American University.  In 1996 he was the Jessie Ball DuPont Scholar at Emory & Henry College. He was scholar-in-residence at George Mason University for the Spring 2000 semester, and the 2001 Carell Writer-in-Residence at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee. more bio

 *   *   *   *   *

Willie Brown’s World

Ran into Quincy Jones the other night. He was in town for a book signing, and I caught up with him at 1300 on Fillmore for supper.

Quincy had just been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He was talking about Barack Obama’s inaugural. And like everybody else, he was trying to figure out how to get on the stage at the official inaugural ball. I told him, direct the band for Aretha Franklin and you’ll be right up there.

As I was leaving, this brother comes up and says to me, “Willie Brown, even with the housing market and the economy, this has been a really great year for black people.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because we got Obama.”

Then he said, “But you know, come to think of it, it was a good year for white people, too.”

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Because they finally got O.J.”  SFGate

 *   *   *   *   *

O.J. Simpson statement before sentencing    /    OJ Simpson: Fallen star who fumbled American dream

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Male Male-Intimacy in Early America

Beyond Romantic Friendships

By William Benemann

Previously hard-to-find information on homosexuality in early America—now in a convenient single volume! Few of us are familiar with the gay men on General Washington’s staff or among the leaders of the new republic. Now, in the same way that Alex Haley’s Roots provided a generation of African Americans with an appreciation of their history, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships will give many gay readers their first glimpse of homosexuality as a theme in early American history. Male-Male Intimacy in Early America is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of homosexual activity among American men in the early years of American history. Male-Male Intimacy in Early America is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of homosexual activity among American men in the early years of American history.

This single source brings together information that has until now been widely scattered in journals and distant archives. The book draws on personal letters, diaries, court records, and contemporary publications to examine the role of homosexual activity in the lives of American men in the colonial period and in the early years of the new republic. The author scoured research that was published in contemporary journals and also conducted his own research in over a dozen US archives, ranging from the Library of Congress to the Huntington Library, from the United Military Academy Archives to the Missouri Historical Society.—Routledge

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






posted 6 December 2008 




Home E Ethelbert Miller Table

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.