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A different portrait of black fatherhood

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Hypophthalmichthys molitrix
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Mar 31, 2010
BBC News
Photographer Zun Lee was raised in Germany by Korean parents - but as an adult he discovered his real father was a black American with whom his mother had had a brief affair.

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Lee says the US media mainly portrays black fathers in one of two ways:

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  1. the absent father, often portrayed as a "deadbeat"
  2. the traditional family patriarch, as seen in TV programmes such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
And his project, on display at the Bronx Documentary Centre, in New York, aims for a more balanced and nuanced portrayal.

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In 2011, Lee began to photograph families from all walks of life across the US, finding his subjects through social media, referrals from friends, or simply approaching them in the street.

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Over time, he became friends with a number of black fathers

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And, by immersing himself in their daily lives, he gradually gained access to intimate family moments, "scenarios that are fleeting and often hidden from the public realm but nonetheless meaningful".

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"Few of the men I met were in traditional relationships, but they were loving, present and responsible fathers nonetheless," he says.

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By undertaking this project, Lee was able to work through some of the issues he had around his own upbringing.

And it is this emotional connection to the work that he believes makes it so powerful.

I found these photographs compelling.
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