At the dawn of the 21st century, while racial discriminations are banned from the United States law for so many years, who could think that interracial couples could be victims of racist behavior? Yet, Arkansas-based photographer Donna Pinckley, in her series of portraits titled For Sticks and Stones, presents the ugly truth of a part of american public that still has a long way to go not only in accepting interracial couples but also in condemning racist violence even if it's verbal.
For Sticks and Stones, Pinckley photographs a varied range of couples from all age brackets across her own state and throughout Southern territories like Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana, before pairing their image with a hateful comment that they have accepted, handwritten below.
The professor and photographer has spent much of her career following a group of children, watching them grow into early adulthood, and listening to their stories. Sticks and Stones was inspired from one of these youngster’s love story. After Pinckley had photographed the girl and her boyfriend, who happened to be African American, she sat down with her mother, who divulged the ways in which her daughter had been scolded and degraded by her peers. Terrified from the fact that there are still so many held on to prejudice and ignorance, the photographer decided to help other couples by sharing their own stories. Once she began, word of Pinckley’s project spread, and she found many eager couples to participate. Some said no to the invitation, but the majority was more than willing to open up to her about the difficult moments of their relationship that were provoked by ignorance and hate. First and foremost, says Pinckley, she hopes to capture the love and abiding spirit of these couples. These portraits celebrate true love and the bonding despite the difficulties.
All images © Donna Pinckley