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Woman Defends 'Racist' Lawn Jockey

| by Sean Kelly

A woman took to Facebook to clear the air about her lawn jockey, which many reportedly deemed racist.

The decoration consists of a small statue of a black man holding a lantern. Sandra Dee McNair wrote in a Jan. 26 post that she's often asked about the lantern footman, and even accused of racism:

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I've had black people say you shouldn't have that out that way "it makes people think you are a racist" I laugh, or "its offensive to white people" again I laugh and then explain what the significance of the lantern footman really is.

Im really amazed at how a lot of people don't know the real meaning behind these statues, so they vandalize them, bitch about them being racist, etc. When the image of a black 'footman' with a lantern signified the home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. These are largely a northern thing, and weren't commonly found in the South until after WWII when northerners moved there and brought this custom with them. The clothing of the statue was also coded.

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A striped jockey's shirt meant that this was a place to swap horses, while a footman in a tailed coat meant overnight lodgings/food, and a blue sailor's waistcoat meant the homeowner could take you to a port and get you on a ship to Canada. I always laugh when I hear black folks talk about how racist these are, because honestly, the cats who had them were likely the LEAST racist.

Later, these came back into popularity after WWII, and they were again coded to show the white homeowners supported early civil rights efforts, weren't Klan, etc.

The woman's post has gone viral, garnering over 13,600 shares as of March 22.

"That's very informative, and also clarification that many people know little about history!!!" one reader commented.

There are a number of other legends surrounding the black jockey lawn statue, according to the Independent Journal.

One likely false legend surrounding the lawn jockey is that when it was used as a symbol on the underground railroad, a green scarf tied around the statue's neck meant slaves were free to come in, while a red scarf "meant that the house was being watched and to keep going."

Sources: Sandra Dee McNair/Facebook, Independent Journal / Photo credit: Sandra Dee McNair/Facebook