View Full Version : What's the deal with Lawn Jockies
08-05-2003, 08:06 PM
Do they have a meaning?
08-05-2003, 08:10 PM
From here (http://www.horseinfo.com/info/misc/jockeyinfo.html)
There is no consensus on the statue’s origin and several theories are passed around. But it is known that the jockey’s precursor, the groomsman, was born in the Old South. Dressed in slave clothes, the groomsman later evolved into its jockey image and became a national figure after World War II. "Residents of new housing developments, perhaps to give themselves more of a sense of being a member of the privileged master class, began placing ‘Jocko’ on their lawns in great numbers," writes Kenneth W. Goings in his book Mammy and Uncle Mose (Indian University Press, $22.50).
Apprently also played a role in the Underground Railroad.
08-05-2003, 11:04 PM
>Apparently also played a role in the Underground Railroad.
Presumably it's predecessor, the Pony Express.
08-06-2003, 06:09 AM
I was long confused about things I read about the racism of lawn jockeys. When I was a kid, all the jockeys I saw were obviously caucasian -- I must've lived in an area where people got sensitive early, or something (and I grew up in the 60s). Since then I've seen a lot of the older lawn jockeys -- caricatured little black boys that were supposed to give you a place to tie up your horse, or whatever. Although I don't think lawn jockeys came into prominence until well after most people ceased using horses. I always regarded them as another useless bit of lawn furniture that adults inexplicably used to mess up the lawn.
08-06-2003, 07:10 AM
Am I the only one who thought of Uncle Remus by Frank Zappa when seeing this thread title? Probably.I can't wait till my Fro is full-grown
I'll just throw 'way my Doo-Rag at home
I'll take a drive to BEVERLY HILLS
Just before dawn
An' knock the little jockeys
Off the rich people's lawn
An' before they get up
I'll be gone, I'll be gone
Before they get up
I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn
Down in the dew
08-06-2003, 07:32 AM
They were considered a nice decoration, like lawn flamingoes. By the 60s, you could get them with either black or pink faces, but the black ones predominated.
Yup, they may look silly now, but then, who knows how people will look upon our current ideas of style?
08-06-2003, 09:46 AM
In my old neighbourhood, we had a bit of a problem with these.
Somebody had one on their lawn. People (black or not, I'm not sure) were offended by it. After a few months of wrangling over it, the owners gave up and painted him green (his skin, not his clothes).
Interesting point: Nobody cared once the jockey was green, only when he was Black did it cause controversy.
I've also seen some terribly re-painted. It was obviously black when it was made (as evidenced by the larger, flatter nose, and the hair), but somebody painted him Caucasian at some point, and it it just looked freaky! It was like some poor labotomized jockey with hyper-pigmentation or something. Real creepy!
I once knew a Black guy who was deeply offended by them as well. But, he was a bit of a flake, so I don't imagine it is a big deal to most.
08-06-2003, 10:05 AM
Y'know the more I think about it, I think I see the problem.
They were originally intended for people to tie up their horses, right? I think the visual of a black person working as a stable-boy on a large Southern estate says "slavery".
Is that the problem with these?
Upon researching, I found a lot of municipalities have banned them. That's probably what happened in my city which prompted the owner to paint his jockey's face green.
08-06-2003, 10:13 AM
I'm sure they were intended to be black slaves/servants, but, as I said, the first ones I saw were clearlt Caucasian -- right down to their facial features.
Twenty years ago or so there was a Manhattan restaurant or bar that had the outside decorated with a lot of lawn jockeys. It might still be there.
National Lampoon once ran an issue with a cover that showed a white lawn jockey (dressed in a gray suit) outside what was supposed to be a Harlem brownstone.
08-06-2003, 02:04 PM
Someone has got to define the word "racism". Given that stable hands are still disproportionately black (check out your nearest horse track), I'd say a black groomsman is a reality, not "racism." It has just been an occupation, like railroad porters, where lots of black men have been employed.
The lawn jockey thing to me is just pretentious kitcsh, as if you're fooling anyone by your little lawn and garden store purchase into associating you with the horsey set.
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