PBS News Hour Presents An Intimate Portrait Of Black Fatherhood In East New York
“As thousands of people in cities across the U.S. took to the streets in recent years to protest the police killings of black men — most recently for Keith Scott and Terence Crutcher — photographer Phyllis Dooney noticed something missing.
In all the media coverage of these killings, “there’s so little mention that these guys are fathers,” she said. “I see this gaping hole in terms of representing people of color, especially the black man, as a family member, as a father, as somebody who loves.”
Dooney said that omission is the result of a racially-charged stereotype of black fathers as neglectful. But that stereotype does not account for the complex social effects of mass incarceration, the War on Drugs and other events that have disproportionately affected black families. She decided to document their stories in East New York, a Brooklyn neighborhood that lies between the southernmost reaches of Queens and the shallow marshes of Jamaica Bay, where approximately one-third of residents live below the poverty line. “What I found was a lot of strength, resolve, character and self reflection,” she said.
Dooney, who currently is earning a Masters of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts from Duke University, first saw the neighborhood in 2012 while photographing a marching band for The New York Times. She talked to us about the process of taking the portraits and what they add to our national conversation on race.”
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