Are Black Lawn Statues Actually Racist?

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Damian White
January 27, 2023

‘Black Jocko’ statues are mini figurines that have sat on the lawns of many Southern homes for decades. But legend has it that they were once crucial to our people’s freedom.

Some historians claim these tiny lawn jockeys were guiding figures for enslaved people escaping bondage. Jocko statues may have secretly signified whether a home was a safe place to stop for rest.

Some historians say that the statue’s particular colors and patterns communicated survival information, too. Green ribbons signaled a hot meal or a warm place to sleep, while red ribbons signaled to keep going. 

Many see the statues as racist caricatures, though.

Jockos sometimes featured oversized, red lips and wore servant-like clothing. At one point, “lawn jockey” was even used as a derogatory term to point out skinfolks who weren’t about our liberation. 

Lawn jockeys have a complicated history, but one thing is for sure.

Whether Jocko was used to send messages or not, our people DID communicate secretly, often hiding messages in plain sight. Today that continues with one goal: keeping us connected. Here’s to the culture.

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