Category Archives: dads

1001 Black Men #800


I loved being a child. At the time, I wouldn’t have put it into quite those words. I just knew I was happy. Whenever I’m around my nieces, or whenever I see happy children around the city, it reminds me of some of the things that are so wonderful about being a kid.

This little boy, sitting on his father’s shoulders, is a perfect example. He’s not worried about falling off, because he has that wonderful feeling of perfect safety and protection to which only children have access. Looking back, it’s one of the things that I cherish most about my own childhood. I never felt unsafe, because my dad and my mom created a wonderfully protected space for my me and my brother. It was the perfect place in which to grow and explore the world around us. We had just enough freedom to challenge ourselves, and just enough restrictions to keep us from encountering anything that bigger than a pair of happy-go-lucky, bookish kids could handle.

Of course, I was well into graduate school before I realized that having the time to grow up at my own pace was a gift. It was then that I finally began to appreciate the work and the intentionality that my parents brought to the task of raising children–I think that realization marked the moment when I became a real adult. It was also the moment when I began to understand the true meaning of unearned privilege.

One day, the kid in this drawing will have the same realization, and his dad will be able to feel proud that he raised an African American man who takes nothing for granted.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #781


Foothill Blvd. near High St., Oakland, CA.

I love seeing Black dads with their kids. It brings back warm memories of childhood with my own amazing dad. At the same time, though, there’s something bittersweet about seeing African American men doing one of the most ordinary things in the world–being fathers to their children–and knowing that so many people in this country don’t even believe that loving Black fathers exist.

Ajuan Mance

1001 Black Men #699



Here’s another of the gymnastics dads from my niece’s school. This guy is faithfully there every week, with his daughter and son in tow. The daughter goes off to her class, and the dad and his son go up to the waiting room to hang out, read books, and do puzzles. It’s great daddy/daughter/son time, and it probably gives mom a bit of a break. I haven’t talked to the daughter, but the son is a really sweet kid. He’s ten years old and he still believes in Santa Claus. I love that he’s been able to hold on to that level of childhood innocence. It’s the mark of great parenting that they’ve created a space in which their kids don’t have to rush to grow up.

Ajuan Mance