Rejecting the Deadbeat Dad Stereotype

Photographer Phyllis B. Dooney was introduced to East New York, a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, by way of a marching band. Rather than running home to a traditional nuclear family, the students she photographed would spend evenings with their aunts, with their grandmothers, or shuttling between their mom’s and dad's separate houses or apartments. Communities like this are often condemned by the media as having broken homes. But Dooney wanted to explore what parenting, specifically fatherhood, really looked like when adults and children alike are grappling with "the long-term societal and psychological effects of mass incarceration, the War on Drugs and the 1980s crack epidemic, and frequent exposure to crime and trauma."

She interviewed and took portraits of these men in their homes, often with their children, and utilized camera obscuras to project the streets into their private spaces. "The men seen here expose how the 'deadbeat Dad' label—often stapled to the American inner-city Black man and men of color in particular—is a gross and counter-productive simplification," Dooney said.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Chan Srithaweeporn / Getty

    Photos: The Moods of Monument Valley

    A collection of images of some of the many moods of this iconic valley, from wild storms to dusky evenings to bright, sunlit panoramas

  • Vincent Yu / AP

    Photos: Hong Kong Protesters Return to the Streets

    Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens filled the city’s streets for a second weekend of protest against a controversial extradition bill.

  • Romeo Gacad / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Mammoth Swing, Stanley Cup, Frog Wedding

    Art Basel displays in Switzerland, a volcanic eruption in North Sumatra, massive protests in Hong Kong, the L.A. Pride Festival in California, jackaroo and jillaroo school in Australia, and much more

  • Marmittes / Shutterstock

    The Cold War Bunkers of Albania

    The paranoid worldview of Enver Hoxha, the leader of Albania during the Cold War, led to a massive “bunkerization” project that resulted in the building of nearly 175,000 concrete bunkers across the country.