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Justin Maxon, “In God We Trust”

Photographer Justin Maxon
November 19, 2009

In conjunction with our annual photo issue, we are publishing photo essays of long term, in-progress, personal work by contributing FADER photographers about the people and changing landscape of America. More photos from Justin Maxon’s “In God We Trust,” along with his personal statement about the project, are after the jump.

Some people say since we have our first Black President in office, racism is not a prevailing force in America any longer. If he can succeed, then all people of color can do the same. But the land of the free is only for those who have the money and opportunities to be buy it. Those living in Chester, Pennsylvania, grow up in an environment where forces everywhere are against them, where gravity seems to be stronger and less forgiving. It is a place where pollution alters development, where violence and crime is commonplace and people with nothing take from others who have little.

If you walk these streets, you pass people in a trance, who speak without being heard. You see children with shallow eyes, with scars deep. There are ghosts everywhere, fading from neglect. There is little for people to grasp a hold of for support, to deliver them through. Aside from for their belief in a higher power; their trust in god. You notice the contrast immediately in the religious community; with their store front churches and booming cathedral halls; where inside red velvet cushions rest, impassioned sermons are heard, and pews are packed with families: children, mothers, fathers, great-grand mothers. A community filled with the spirit of faith and the daring to fight this plague of issues.

My goal with this project is to explore both sides of Chester, from the crises to the courage that is strong in the face of it.

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Justin Maxon, “In God We Trust”