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

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.

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 set out on a mission to change that—one dad and one photo at a time.

Through a series dubbed 100 Black Dads, Lucy Baber exposes what it means to be Black and raising kids in today’s culture. The photo project, created in 2017, features loving dads with their children and explores and challenges perceptions of men of colour and the stereotype of the absent Black father.

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 removed herself from the project, acting only as a means to capture the stories of these men. Her focus was 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

The process was simple: Each dad completed a questionnaire before their story was captured in a beautiful, intimate photograph. Baber then posted the photos to her Facebook and Instagram accounts with quotes directly from the dads portrayed in them. She wanted to dismantle the harmful ideas of what it means to be a Black man 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

“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.