Why this photographer’s 100 Black Dads project is so important in 2017

Philadelphia-based photographer Lucy Baber's project aims to break stereotypes around black dads and instead reveal the reality of their lives as loving and involved fathers—in their own words.

Photo courtesy of Lucy Baber

A dad is a dad no matter what. But unfortunately, today’s society still reduces some dads, particularly black dads, to hurtful stereotypes. One Philadelphia-based photographer is on a mission to change that—one dad and one photo at a time.

Through a series dubbed 100 Black Dads, Lucy Baber is exposing what it means to be black and raising kids in today’s culture. The photo project features loving dads with their children and looks to explore and challenge perceptions of men of colour and the stereotype of the absent black father.

Being an activist, Baber got the idea for the project through her involvement with Black Lives Matter and wanted to contribute to the movement through art. Enter 100 Black Dads. Recognizing her privilege as a white woman, Baber removes herself from the project, acting only as a means to capture the stories of these men. Her focus is on translating the relationship between father and child into image and representing what it means to be a dad of colour by capturing the everyday of fatherhood.

Photo courtesy of Lucy Baber

For dads who have participated (there are 17 so far), the process is simple: Each one completes a questionnaire before their story is captured in a beautiful, intimate photograph. Baber then posts the photos to her Facebook and Instagram accounts with quotes directly from the dads portrayed in them. She wants to support these dads by dismantling the harmful ideas of what it means to be a black man that are projected onto them and instead reveal the reality of their lives as loving and involved fathers—in their own words.

 

dad playing doctor with daughter
Malcolm and his daughter. Photo courtesy of Lucy Baber

100 Black Dads is the beginning of a dialogue with black fathers who want to share their experiences and how it affects not only themselves, but their children as well: “We must teach our kids their worth, knowing that society will constantly show them images degrading what it means to have their skin color. Knowing that there are laws in place to keep them at the bottom of society, we must teach them what they deserve. We must teach them their history, the parts of history that have been expunged from school history books. We must show them examples of how black people have ALWAYS been an educated, innovative, and strong people that have made so many contributions to this society,” writes Malcolm, one of the fathers who participated in the project.

Baber is still seeking volunteers to join the photo series through her website and is also accepting donations to help with the costs of travel and to help grow the project. We think that the work she’s doing and the stories these dads are telling are incredibly important and we can’t wait to see the final result of the project with all 100 dads.

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