Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is the Antoine Dodson success story "cultural tourism"?

For over a week now, the video of Antoine Dodson, the brother who saved his sister from being raped by an intruder, has been playing on black blogs. I didn't post it, because I didn't think it was funny and I was slightly embarrassed for Antoine and his sister that people were laughing about it. Well, today, Twan made the morning news, sans the head scarf, instead his hair was long, flowing and beautifully silked.

Personally, I still don't find this story in the least bit funny, because what resonates with me is the fact that a woman was being raped. Antoine's sister, Kelly Dodson: "When I first seen it, I was very upset about it because they were taking it as a joke and I was feeling like they were not looking at the part where I was the victim."If Antoine wouldn't came in, I probably would be dead."

What's So Funny About Antoine Dodson?
by Tamara Winfrey Harris

One night, an intruder broke into the Huntsville, Alabama, home of Kelly Dodson and attempted to rape her. Her screams alerted her brother Antoine, who came to the rescue. The intruder escaped and in local news coverage of the incident, Antoine Dodson expressed his anger and issued a warning to the community. The resulting video of a young man frustrated by the violence in his community and his sister's near assault has reportedly generated more than 2 million hits, a Facebook page and a remix by Autotune and it is available on iTunes.

I can't help thinking that Dodson's new-found popularity is not about shared frustration over crime or violence against women. On threads around the 'net, Dodson is branded "hilarious." But what is so funny about Antoine Dodson? Part of the Dodson meme is, I fear, about laughing at mannerisms that the mainstream associates with blackness, gayness and poverty. There is nothing amusing about a young woman assaulted in her home. And so, I worry that people are laughing at Antoine: his flamboyance and perceived gayness; his use of black colloquialisms, like "run tell dat," his grammar and accent.

I agree with Baratunde Thurston of The Onion and Jack and Jill Politics, who is quoted in a recent NPR report: "As the remix took off, I became increasingly uncomfortable with its separation from the underlying situation. A woman was sexually assaulted and her brother was rightfully upset. People online seemed to be laughing at him and not with him (because he wasn't laughing), as Dodson fulfilled multiple stereotypes in one short news segment. Watching the wider Web jump on this meme, all but forgetting why Dodson was upset, seemed like a form of ‘class tourism.’ Folks with no exposure to the projects could dip their toes into YouTube and get a taste."

I say it is cultural tourism.[end]

Today Antoine is making lemonade out of the proverbial lemons and he is getting paid for the remix, t-shirts and other stuff. Antoine is doing so well, that I hear he and his family no longer live in the projects. At least Twan is getting paid, right? What of Kelly - how she doin?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We are all entitled to a community that cares about our children

Thanks to Dennis Eggemeyer from the PCCEO, we are beginning to get a better understanding of a hard working, single mother who questioned the powers that be last night at the meeting between the school district and the city which was held at Friendship House.

The feeling appears to be that this woman is suffering from a sense of entitlement. After looking at the video and listening to her plea, it is clear, this woman is not sitting around looking for a hand out.

It IS the job of the City of Peoria to provide a safe community so that children can go out and play. This mother is hardly the first person to ask the City to prioritize and think of what the people in the community need before giving handouts to developers.

Sure, there was a time when kids could go outside to play in their neighborhood and not worry about being hit with a bullet. However, I think we all can agree that those times have passed.

In certain neighborhoods, the parents who are trying to save their children from the street are forced to keep their children in the house. Paying for tumbling or traveling to extra-curricular classes is just not an option for most who are struggling just to get by in the inner city.

I guess one could say that I have a certain sense of entitlement. You see, I feel that I too am entitled to a community free from crime, safe places to play and schools where my children can get a decent education. My needs may be articulated a little more in keeping with what the majority is used to hearing, however, the mother in this video has just as much right to feel that the City owes her and her children a safe place to live and play as we do.

Bloggers blog ad nauseum about what they feel they are entitled to: the museum, the trail, the IMAX... need I go on? Just because we have the blog for a platform to speak about what we feel we are entitled to, does that make us any better than her? I think not.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Changing fashions and the new high school dress code

I tried to attend the Parent Advisory Committee Meeting wherein they talked about modifying the dress code. I went to the Administration building at the time that was specified on the District’s website, but apparently that was the wrong time, because when I got there, the meeting was over.

Had I been in attendance, I would have imparted some of my knowledge on what’s in fashion and what trends the youngster’s are wearing these days. I know Carl Cannon was contacted, but he is not exactly what I would call a fashionista.

In my opinion, some knowledge of what is actually in style is important before you try to institute a dress code. A few examples:

The dress code says pants may be denim – some restrictions should have been placed on ripped jeans. Ripped and deconstructed jeans are all the rage and students will be wearing them come Fall.

The dress code says pants must be fitted. Oh, you will see some fitted pants alright. Have you see the young men busting a sag in skinny jeans (which are fitted). Skinny jeans are hot and catching on.

The dress code says no pants with writing across the back. Have you see the pants with writing across the front and down the leg? You will.

The dress code did not include any restrictions on young men wearing over sized clothing. If your shirt is long enough, it’s difficult to tell if you are busting a sag.

This dress code is too subjective. Administrators will have to work way too hard to enforce it. Ideally, the dress code will need to change with the seasons and fashion, because what youngsters decide is cool and worthy of wearing is constantly changing and you can’t think of everything.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PHA residents report abuse to the pjstar

On Monday, August 8th, the pjstar ran an article entitled Snarky comments about Taft residents hurt. It was a good article and very revealing. The Peoria Housing Authority Director of Public Relations exposed the vulnerable side of PHA residents, when she went on record about the hurtful and often racist comments that appear on a regular basis on

I thought that Peoria Pundit had already covered the issue sufficiently when he posted this: Journal Star addresses concerns that many PJStar commenters are ignorant, racist troglodytes, so I kept it moving and went on to other things.

But today, I had to do a double take... compare the comments on Monday's Snarky piece, to the comments on today's piece about the District 150 dress code. Notice anything different?

Has the pjstar decided to actually moderate hateful comments? If so, kudos to Ms. Lundeen and the PHA residents, for getting the pjstar to step up and do something they should have done a long time ago.