Meet Alanna Duncan
South L.A. • Age 27 • Data entry specialist at Fyllo, former administrative specialist at Crystal Stairs
Lives with daughter, Eden (2); female friend and friend’s daughter (7)
“When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’
"I didn't know anything. I didn't know where to start. I would spend days in the library. I would do like a 9 to 5 in the library, pretty much just read books until the point where it was too much information.”
We gave point-and-shoot film cameras to 12 Southern California parents of young children and invited them to document their lives in the Fall of 2019.
Join this group of families, from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino, as they show us what parenting really looks like, through their eyes.
“This was after work… I remember this day she had a whole bunch of energy and sometimes it does happen where I have a really long day and I just want to sleep and Eden's probably taken a nap that day, so she's ready to play.”
“You see my arm with a robe on, because this is an early morning trip to daycare. She's pulling me, and definitely directing me on how to get what she wants. So she's really bossy — or not bossy, she's a leader, I would say.”
I assumed her dad would help, but he did not help at all.
"I didn't have a car. So I would walk really, really far with Eden. Sometimes not eating — I was breastfeeding at the time, so she was fine. But you know, to get on the WIC and things like that, taking buses with a baby.
“After that, my focus was to make sure that we had somewhere to sleep. And once those things were secured, that's when I started to look for work. I got scared because I'm like, I jumped the gun! I got a job before I got child care! But once I went to the [child care] agency, and they knew I had a job, they worked super hard to make sure that I would not miss my first day.”
I'm on the floor taking a photo…kind of creeping on her because she's supposed to be sleeping...
“I was living previously kind of like in a garage and I needed somewhere to move to. So I put out an ad on the neighbors app. And I told my story that I was a young single mom who, I had a job that I will be starting, like, in a week, a full-time job, and I just really needed someone to help me out and give me somewhere to stay. And she answered the ad and it was just fate that she would be very helpful.”
This is our Sunday routine. Eden loves to help with laundry…
"All of this is a lesson for her. She's learning that she has to sort clothes. She's also learning that you don't just dump them all in, you have to place them in and make sure that the basket is even. And she's so proud to help all the time.
“I'm doing everything by myself.. as far as raising Eden. And so a lot of times I find that I don't have patience, and I don't want to sit and walk her through everything and let her touch everything. You do have to sit back and just let go.”
“This was Thanksgiving Day. I was shaving, peeling sweet potatoes and this was in preparation for a dish, candied yams or sweet potatoes… First of all, I love this photo because this is my favorite dish… Because my family's in Philadelphia, when I go home, they make this for me. Even though I could be home in like April or you know, a random month.
It's a tradition in soul food in a lot of Black families. I did this every year for my entire life with my mom and my grandma.
“Eden thinks she's helping. She's just stirring around the peels, but again, she's watching us cook and watching the hands prepare the food. I really liked that I could share this with Eden.”
“I put the sunglasses on her face and this is the face that she made. She just thinks she's so cool. She sits like this, just very stoic, and lets you just, ‘Oh Eden, you look so nice.’ She loves it and she kind of pokes her face out and like, poses. It's a smug look. It's hilarious, yeah, anytime she gets sunglasses or a hat on.”
“So, the pandemic began…The two biggest changes for me have been a switch in my job. And I moved… It was a loss because I don't have the health care. And again, it was cut in pay, but I'm more comfortable now, I think...I accredit it to the pandemic. None of these things would have happened so swiftly, I think.”
“I really wanted to make a point of the dishes because I'm in the kitchen all day… when we finish breakfast and everything settles. You clean up the kitchen, you might get like 30 minutes of work in, clean up everything. Time to think about lunch… In the kitchen constantly, hands in the water, like always dishes, cleaning, wiping everything.”
She loves her mask. One of my aunts from Philadelphia, she made us all three masks, each handmade.
“It's difficult because when she gets out, she's very social. She wants to walk up to people and, you know, just be friendly, but we don't let her anymore. Also touching things. We don't let her touch things. And essentially, she's home all the time.
“And I feel so guilty, especially like when she sees us leaving to go to the store or something, she says, ‘Outside,’ or she wants to go with us, but I kind of, I don't know. I mean, she wouldn't understand.”
“So we celebrated Eden's birthday on April 1. By then, we were super quarantined and my biggest concern was how was I going to make this day super special for her while being safe, and — normal, I guess. And so I did the balloons and got her gifts and just dressed her up nice, and played with her all day, painted her nails — just did activities and things to make her feel special.
“I was really proud of the cake I made her. It came out pretty good. It was the first cake I ever baked.”
“I just want Eden to truly know herself and love herself.
"For me, knowing yourself is crucial because I'm right now trying to figure out, you know, I'm online looking at personality tests and to try to figure out what career I'd be great in. I feel like knowing yourself is super important because then life becomes easy, because you'll be in the right place, in the right space. I want to help her become a comfortable, happy, truly stable human. So for when life gets unstable, at least she's OK. And she's good and grounded.”