Why Was This Carnival Game So Popular?

Africa Dodger
Leslie Taylor-Grover
October 11, 2020

You won’t believe what used to be one of the most popular carnival games in America. There was a jungle backdrop with a hole in the middle. The premise of the game was to use baseballs to clobber what popped up in the hole before it disappeared. What popped up?

A Black man’s face. As incredible as this sounds, that’s not the worst part. The faces were real!

Actual Black men were hired just to have baseballs thrown at their head and faces. The men often suffered horrible injuries. What was the name of this barbaric game?

AFRICAN DODGER! This game was a sport, and in fact, it wasn’t until professional white baseball players showed up to hurl baseballs at top speed that Black workers stopped being “dodgers.” Even then, board games and fake heads that often had exaggerated lips were used instead. Why was this even a game in the first place?

This game was part of social control that reiterated white supremacy and the disposability of Black bodies. White society has been ingrained with subliminals about our people, including using us for target practice! We must continue to educate ourselves and fight against these racist narratives.

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