Antoine Dodson is a Hero

by Katryna Starks

I stayed away from the Antoine Dodson circus until someone posted the video on my Facebook page.  People have said that reporters chose this man to speak to because he is stereotypical, that he exploited himself by speaking into the camera, that the song was a mockery and that his BET Awards performance only furthered it.  In essence, Antoine Dodson is seen as a negative portrayal of black men.

Now that I’ve familiarized myself with the story, I think people are letting their own stereotypes get in the way of what actually happened.  In the process, they are missing several points.

The Interview: As someone with a degree in Communications, i don’t think he was ill-chosen at all.  In cases involving sex crimes, reporters usually don’t put the actual victim on camera.  In this case, the woman wasn’t actually raped but the reporter may still have hesitated to identify her.  The person in the home who was closest to her and was also an eyewitness was the brother who ran the would-be rapist out of the house.  That was Antoine.  He wasn’t interviewed for or despite his demeanor and appearance, but because of his actual relevance to the story.  With that understanding, there was no foolishness in the initial choice for him as an interviewee.

The Camera: As for him speaking directly into the camera to the criminal, parents of kidnapping victims often do the same thing.  They are often pleading for the safe return of family members.  Antoine chose to issue a threat instead.  Either way, his addressing the camera in order to send a message to the criminal is not new or even unusual.

The Look: As Maurice Dolberry said in this story, Dobson did not seek fame and fortune on his own.  His family was the victim of an attempted crime and he was interviewed about it. Right after it happened.  Was he supposed to be articulate and well-dressed?  Are all crime victims that way?  If someone broke into your house and attempted to rape you or your loved one, was chased off and then reporters came to investigate – would you be camera-ready?  Would you be concerned about that?  Neither was Antoine.

The Song: Again, Antoine did not seek fame. He did not make a song out of his threat. Someone else did.  It doesn’t matter why they did. The point is that it went viral and Antoine used the opportunity to move his family out of a dangerous neighborhood.  Whether the song is likable or not, he didn’t make it so he can’t be blamed for it.  He did, however, make sure that he benefited from someone else swiping his image and using it for their own gain – and that is commendable.

The BET Awards: Let’s face it.  What happens every year on the BET awards is that people spend 2-3 hours celebrating some of the most misogynistic music that has ever been created.  Music with lyrics that celebrate he sexual prowess of the artist, often referring to women as bitches in the process.  Narcissistic music that celebrates the artist’s fame.  Self-protective music that threatens the artists rival artists because of some perceived act of disrespect.  In the midst of that, Antoine’s song was an oasis.  His song celebrated the dignity of women in that they aren’t to be intruded upon and raped.  His song was protective of women, suggesting that they were to be hidden away from such intruders.  His song was not a narcissistic celebration of himself but a threat to those who would harm others.

Antoine Dodson is not a stereotype that perpetuates a negative image of black men, he is a human being who acted bravely and stood up for others.  Seeing him as anything else only reveals the bias of the observer.  It doesn’t make or change what Antoine really is.  Antoine Dodson is a hero.

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