Stranger Fruit was created in response to the senseless murders of black men across the nation by police violence. Even with smart phones and dash cams recording the actions, more lives get cut short due to unnecessary and excessive violence.

Who is next? Me? My brother? My friends? How do we protect these men?

Lost in the furor of media coverage, lawsuits and protests is the plight of the mother. Who, regardless of the legal outcome, must carry on without her child.

Untitled #5, Parkchester, NY. Stranger Fruit, was created in response to the murders of African American men, due to police violence. The mothers in these photos have not lost their sons, but understand that their son could be next. No mother should have to endure this pain, this trauma. When will we as a nation, acknowledge that there is a problem with police brutality in the African American community and how can we begin to fix it? © JonHenry

I set out to photograph mothers with their sons in their environment, reenacting what it must feel like to endure this pain. The mothers in the photographs have not lost their sons, but understand the reality, that this could happen to their family. The mother is also photographed in isolation, reflecting on the absence. When the trials are over, the protesters have gone home and the news cameras gone, it is the mother left. Left to mourn, to survive.

— Jon Henry

Editor’s note: This work won special recognition as Juror’s Pick in the 2019 LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards. Jon Henry is a visual artist working with photography and text, from Queens NY (resides in Brooklyn). His work reflects on family, sociopolitical issues, grief, trauma and healing within the African American community. His work has been published both nationally and internationally and exhibited in numerous galleries including Aperture Foundation, Smack Mellon, BRIC, and LensCulture’s group show in Paris 2019, among others. He continues to develop this series. Be sure to check his Instagram for many more striking images and stories.