Black Nannies and White Children (Happy MLK Jr. Day)

There are many good and important ways to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. today. You could go back and read his words, or someone’s editorializing his words, or have a conversation about race and rights in the United States (or abroad, MLK Jr. was interested in international affairs as well). Whatever you do, it’s important to remember that race relations in the United States, while it is certainly evolving, is still full of inequality. Ellen Jacobs explores the uncomfortable and inequitable position of nannies in her series “Substitutes”:


Jacob was especially interested in the economics involved in the nanny-child relationship. “Being a nanny is a low-paying job where love between the nanny and child is one of the anticipated but universally unspoken duties. This is an unusual expectation in a financial transaction,” Jacob wrote. (via


Nannies are overwhelmingly women of color working long hours for low wages and few, if any, benefits. You can see more of Jacob’s work on her website or at SohoPhoto Gallery through Feb 1.