Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Black Fathers: Bombshell Family Secret Leads Photographer on Unexpected Journey

I just came across this powerful 5-minute video on the profound beauty and integrity of Black fathers.  Within several minutes, and stemming from his own very personal story of discovery, photographer Zun Lee offers an insightful perspective on the profound tragedy and pathology that characterizes the misrepresentation of Black / African life in the American psyche, especially the role and presence of African American fathers.

The idea of African American fathers, in many ways, is an oxymoron within the popular American imagination, courtesy of this nation's history of racism and oppression directed at African (-American) people.  Any casual examination of popular media forms reveals a distorted and extremely problematic idea of African American male absence and/or irresponsibility.  This short video challenges that pathological and widely accepted - yet false - narrative.

You have to watch this, and share it with others.  I see myself, my family, and the many other powerful examples of African American fathers I've known and observed, reflected in this emotionally moving and reflective clip.

Many thanks to brother Kenneth Braswell for passing this along via twitter, and brother Zun Lee for taking the time to share some of his journey in this form.

From the Video:

I had a lot of assumptions about what it meant to be a good father. And a lot of these assumptions were shattered just by being in the presence of these fathers.

For me it was an eye opener to see how many fathers take their responsibility seriously, that go about their business very quietly, doing something everyday to be there for the kids.  A lot of them have very difficult situations, yet they still find a way to make fatherhood work for them.

And you see it in the eyes of the partners, you see it in the eyes of the kids. These men were contrary to the stereotype, very demonstrative with their feelings, and very forthcoming with a lot of love and affection.

And that's something that was very difficult for me to be around, to witness, because it brought up a lot of emotions from the things I never experienced as a child.


For me, initially, this project was about exploring the feelings of anger and hurt and resentment that I had towards the dad that I had never known. But witnessing so many Black fathers that are trying to be the best father that they can be… they are not absent, they are not irresponsible. It really led me to a path of forgiveness and redemption because each of the fathers that I worked with and that I photographed, could have been my father. And just forgiving myself even for hanging onto the resentment for so long. I think this project more than anything else helped me on that path.


Description of this Video Project:

In this episode of The Weekly Flickr, we profile street photographer Zun Lee. A family secret inspires him to pick up his camera and confront stereotypes of African-American fatherhood. Zun embeds himself in the lives of black fathers who are trying to be as involved in their children's lives as possible. It's a journey he hopes will lead him to a path of forgiveness and redemption.



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