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New York City photographer Ellen Jacob’s new exhibit captures the racial divide still prevalent within the Big Apple’s nanny industry.  The four-year project, titled “Surrogates”, was inspired by the number of “Black women pushing White babies around” in  Jacob’s Upper West Side neighborhood.

According to the 58-year-old photographer, the majority of the nannies featured are immigrants hailing from “the Islands” or Africa, and range from ages 23 to 60. One White nanny,  is also showcased.

Jacob  described the work as displaying “the social, racial and economic relationships that powerfully affect life and largely go unnoticed.”  The women endure long hours, low pay and no health or vacation benefits. “Being a nanny is a low-paying job where love between the nanny and child is one of the anticipated but universally unspoken duties,” said Jacob. “This is an unusual expectation in a financial transaction.”

Despite the conditions, the nannies enjoy their jobs,  and Jacob points out that the families generally have close relationships with their employees.  Still, they aren’t quite treated as equals, and the separation of race and class remains “deeply rooted in culture”  Jacob (who also had a Black nanny as a child) told the UK Daily Mail.

“Surrogates” is on display at New York City’s Soho Photo Gallery through Feb. 1.

Hit the gallery below for photos.

Photos: Ellen Jacob/Daily Mail

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