Before we hear the first word of testimony in O.J. Simpson's civil trial, where he's charged with the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman, heated, acrimonious exchanges have sprung up about the jury's racial makeup. Unlike O.J.'s criminal trial, where the jury consisted of nine blacks, this jury has only one black. Nine jury members are white, one is Hispanic, and the other is of mixed race. Critics charge that since there is only one black, O.J. can't get a fair trial, and they assert that the jury's racial makeup shows it's "payback" time.

On the opposite side of our country, police officers Milton Mulholland and Michael Albert (whites) are on trial charged with involuntary manslaughter of Jonny Gammage (black), the cousin of Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Ray Seals. Jonny Gammage, not your Rodney King-type thug, was suffocated and killed during an altercation with officers Mulholland and Albert in Pittsburgh's mostly white suburb of Brentwood. The jury hearing the case was all white - before Judge David Cashman declared a mistrial last week because of inappropriate court statements made by a prosecution witness. Jesse Jackson, along with other black activists, had condemned the selection of the all-white jury.These two unrelated court cases are yet another example of souring race relations in our country. We're moving in the direction where the defendant's guilt or innocence is determined by his race and the jury's racial composition. It doesn't stop there. We're reaching a point where an interracial murder, assault or rape causes juries not only to deliberate on the defendant's guilt or innocence but to worry whether their decision will lead to post-trial rioting, the loss of lives and property.

If we buy into Rep. Maxine Waters' "no justice, no peace" reasoning given for the "uprising" after the first Rodney King trial, Los Angeles whites would have been justified had they too went on a looting and arson rampage. After all, just as the Rodney King verdict seemed unfair to blacks, the O.J. verdict seemed unfair to whites.

I'm wondering whether decent Americans of all races care about the direction of race relations and what they augur for the future. Given our public policy and thinking in matters of race, one would be surprised if race relations went in any other direction. After all, if we accept that race should determine who gets a government contract, the boundaries of congressional districts, who gets into college, who gets a job and who gets laid off first, it's a natural extension of that reasoning that race ought to also come into play in jury selection and the determination of defendant guilt or innocence.

Racial resentment, strife and discrimination could have died a well-deserved death in our country, but unfortunately, they have been kept alive by elite race hustlers, spineless politicians, judges, academicians and people with good intentions but little understanding. Collectively, they have been stacking piles of flammable racial kindling for a racial arsonist to torch. It's time that decent Americans stand up and demand an immediate end to all race-based public policy and disavow race hustlers.