Photography Project Depicts Bond Between Black Fathers and Their Sons

Author: Ryan Velez

Having just come off of Father’s Day, the Huffington Post reports that one photographer is using his art to show the relationships between black fathers and sons using their hands. “The older I get, the more my hands look like my father’s, and now the sight of my own hands trigger vivid memories we shared together when I was a boy,” Mark Clennon told HuffPost via email. Based in New York, Clennon captured portraits of 18 fathers and their sons as a part of the photo series.

He mentioned how there was a personal element to this decision as well, with his father, Mark Clennon Sr., working with his hands on cars for a living. Clennon says that this is something that he would pick up himself. “Hands are inherently intimate because they offer a source of both care and discipline from our fathers,” the photographer said. “We can only recognize the hands of the people that are most involved in our lives. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that these seemingly mundane details have had such a strong impact on my life.”

Shot from “the perspective of a son,” Clennon deliberately chose black fathers and their sons to celebrate these relationships and take on the many negative beliefs and stereotypes held about black fatherhood. Perhaps the largest of these is the perception that black fathers are by and large absentee fathers, something that was disproven in a 2013 CDC report.

″[T]here are millions of black dads working hard to be great examples for their sons,” he said. “My father is black. My perspective is black. One day I’ll be a black father, and if I have a son, I’ll have some of the same conversations that my father had with me about being a black man in America. There’s a specific burden of responsibility as a father of a black son, and in these portraits, you can see it in each of their eyes.”

One of the best ways to challenge stereotypes is to offer proof and examples of the ways that we are similar. This photography series manages to do just that, and it couldn’t be more timely.




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