Revocation of token status : the day O.J. Simpson 'turned' Black
May 10, 2019
Department or Program
I use the 2016 documentary seires O.J.: Made in America, among a conglomeration of other texts about O.J. Simpson to lay out my argument around the rise and fall of the constructed persona of ‘O.J.’ and detail Simpson’s history. I argue that the case study of O.J. Simpson demonstrates how hegemony operates to grant and revoke token status. I draw on Dana Cloud’s notion of tokenism to illustrate how Simpson was tokenized as an exemplary ‘good’ Black man until he was accused of murder in 1994, which then marked him as a criminal, invoked negative race-based stereotypes and resulted in the loss of his token status. I work to analyze the subject position of Black men and more specifically the Black male athlete, and the ways white supremacy works to commodify and tokenize them while simultaneously othering and imposing violence onto them.