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Run and Tell That

“You have given me this opportunity to shine so dammit I’m going to shine.” — Antoine Dodson

An act of ordinary heroism (July 28):

YouTube remix, 8 million views (July 30):

Internet celebrity (August 10):

Background here and here. Musings about “race and media” here.

UPDATE: From a Reddit comment thread:

    “I’m really glad he decided to capitalize on this, rather than let other people produce shirts and other merchandise. Remember, beneath the outrageous interview is a guy who ran into his sister’s bedroom to stop a rape — he deserves all the good fortune he can get.”

From Antoine Dodson himself (August 15):

    “I’m really starting to get mad because everyone is out for money and don’t care about whats really going on. I’m not going to play this funny role anymore. I really haven’t foreal. Realize that my goal is to be a business man not a joke and… lately people been taking me there. That is not who I am. Understand that I was just mad and wanted justice for my sister. It wasn’t made to be funny. Although I thought it was funny but all jokes are aside now. People are really sweeping this under the rug. I hope that this man will be caught. You don’t know how this changed our life. So I guess it’s funny that we are moving from house to house too. I guess it’s funny my little sisters are scared t death to sleep at night. I guess it’s funny that he may climb in someone else’s window. This is not a game so don’t take it there.”

From blogger Dr. Goddess:

    “There is nothing wrong with Antoine. Or his story. Or how he chose to express himself. Kelly [Antoine’s sister] and Antoine were very clear… they live in the projects. They are also Southern… they live in Huntsville, Alabama. And they both had a right to be exceptionally angry about Kelly’s attempted rape. Yet, even in their rage, they exhibited more intelligence and articulated a sense of well-being than many of the persons who have been elected or otherwise appointed (and some self-appointed) to represent us.
    “Embarrassed by Antoine?! Please. We should be thankful he’s here. He may just force us to redefine our priorities and how we think we understand one another.
    “Antoine Dodson’s character seems to be better than most.”

She goes on to remind us of how this all started. This is the story of a poor family living in public housing that failed to keep them safe. They reached out to the authorities in the aftermath of an attempted rape and were not taken seriously — so they got mad. This inspired her to write a letter to the Huntsville, Alabama authorities on their behalf, and she provides contact information on her blog for anyone else who wishes to “hold these people accountable.”

UPDATE 2: It occurs to me that the reason this young man’s cri de coeur touched a chord with so many of us — “Y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, ‘cuz they’re rapin’ everybody out here” — is because it reflects the unease we all feel in these troubled times. Don’t we all somehow feel under assault after a decade of economic crisis and war, with no end in sight? As Antoine said in a radio interview about all the newfound attention his family is getting:

    “We’re not used to this, you know what I’m sayin’? Like, everybody steps on us, you know what I’m sayin’? People degrade us, so it’s like… all this love that the world has been showing us lately, is like, ‘Man, this is so amazing,’ and every time I get a chance with my sister, we cry about it, ‘cuz it’s so amazing, like, ‘Wow, two and a half weeks ago, nobody cared.'”

So doesn’t this young man speak for all of us, and our sense of powerlessness in some way? Haven’t we all wondered how this could possibly be happening, how there could be millions out of work and at risk of losing their homes, how communities could be closing their libraries and shutting off streetlights for lack of funds — yet the government, under a new president and a new party, still seems powerless to end the disasterous policies that brought us here? Antoine at least did something. He stopped a rapist, he protected his family, and he spoke up as we’d all like to do. So in this, the more I think about it, he is a hero — an accidental hero, the best kind.


Comment from nina
Time: August 18, 2010, 22:42


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