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The Clark Sisters: Link between Culture & Incarceration
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
July 18, 2020

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How do modern black media portray black fathers?

I watched the Clark Sisters movie some months ago on Netflix and I was a little disturbed about how their father (Elder Elbert Clark) was portrayed. He was presented as a church elder who was domineering, not supportive, and abusive. Apart from trying to prevent his daughters from having a singing career, he divorced his wife over it and had a brief moment in the audience after his daughters were successful gospel singers. The conclusion was that he would have prevented the success of the Clark Sisters had they not had a mother that was strong, determined, and focused.  

A counter-cultural perspective from watching Netflix could be that Pastor Clark was actually a weak man who had no control of his home. Mrs. Clark did not only disregard him, but his daughters moved ahead without him despite the fact that not all the daughters were really interested in the music career initially. Throughout the rest of the movie, he never attended most of their concerts, assisted them financially, visit his daughters to check on them, or helped out with a career decision.

What are the truths about many black fathers?

Contrarily to the Netflix movie, I also read an article where his granddaughter said that her mother participated in his church and will always be “Pop Pop”, but was certain that he abused her grandmother. Another article stated that Elder Clark moved his church to a poorer neighborhood where he had programs to serve the less-fortunate. This shows that he was involved with his descendants throughout their successes, went on to successfully minister God’s Word to the poor, and his descendants also supported his ministry. 

How can modern black media portray black fathers better?

African-Americans cannot solely put the blame of racism on others or complain about the brutality or incarceration of black men, if they are responsible for portraying their successful fathers as weak, abusive, non-supportive, and irresponsible in their movies and sit-coms when the truth is actually contrary. No one is perfect, but the world, especially Black children, need to see the positive contributions of Black fathers to the successes of their children, family, and communities, if the impression of Black males should become more respectable to judges, police, politicians, and the society at large even through Netflix movies.