Every home in America has some distinguishing artifact in the yard that showcases the personality of the occupant. Some people have garden gnomes hidden away in the brush of their manicured front lawns; many have magnificent floral arrangements; others water fountains for birds to enjoy; and few have decorate doormats inviting guests into their home with a pithy comment.
The garish pink flamingo might litter the lawn of your prole neighbor, driving down property value but providing enjoyment for the yokel displaying such an idiotic creation.
Still, precious few dare exhibit that antiquated item from the past that conjures apocryphal tales of daring exploits provided by Black people at times of great historic distress: the Lawn Jockey.
Yes, a common sight to behold in Pre-Obama America, the lawn jockey has fallen out of favor recently despite its historical importance as a symbol of Black people and their vital contributions to the United States of America. Speculations has long centered on the origins of this miniature homage to Black people, with one hypothesis placing its birth at the dawn of this nations birth, while others place the beginnings of the forerunner to the lawn jockey as a statue denoting proper and safe passage on the underground railroad:
The African-American lawn jockeys often had exaggerated features, such as big eyes with the whites painted in, large red lips, large, flat nose and curly hair. These pieces were typically painted in gaudy colors for the uniform, with the flesh of the statue a gloss black. These statues are widely considered offensive and racially insensitive and many remaining samples have now been repainted using pink paint for the skin while the original sculpture's exaggerated features remain.Like the exaggerated English Butler (or man's man) that is proudly displayed in the parlors of upper-class Americans homes, the lawn jockey is an item that once found prominence in the gardens and front yards of the domiciles of white people in the whitopia that once was America. Now, this relic of a bygone era with suspect lineage (all of the above stories lack sufficient proof to justify their selection as the true derivation of the 'lawn jockey' statue) is rarely seen at all.
However, some accounts of the figure's origin cause some to see the statue as representing a hero of African American history and culture. According to the River Road African American Museum the figure originated in commemoration of heroic dedication to duty: "It is said that the 'lawn jockey' actually has its roots in the tale of one Jocko Graves, an African-American youth who served with General George Washington at the time that he crossed the Delaware to carry out his surprise attack on British forces at Trenton, NJ. The General thought him too young to take along on such a dangerous attack, so left him on the Pennsylvania side to tend to the horses and to keep a light on the bank for their return. So the story goes, the boy, faithful to his post and his orders, froze to death on the river bank during the night, the lantern still in his hand. The General was so much moved by the boy's devotion to his duty that he had a statue sculpted and cast of him, holding the lantern, and had it installed at his Mount Vernon estate. He called the sculpture 'The Faithful Groomsman'." The most frequently-cited source for the story is Kenneth W. Goings in "Mammy and Uncle Mose" (Indiana University Press), though he regards it as apocryphal. The story was told as well in a 32 page children's book by Earl Kroger Sr., "Jocko: A Legend of the American Revolution." Moreover, there is a 13-page typescript titled "A Horse for the General: The Story of Jocko Graves" by Thomas William Halligan in the archives of the Alaska Pacific University/ University of Alaska-Anchorage consortium library 
Charles Blockson, curator of the Afro-American Collection at Temple University in Philadelphia, claims that the figures were used in the days of the Underground Railroad to guide escaping slaves to freedom: "Green ribbons were tied to the arms of the statue to indicate safety; red ribbons meant to keep going ... People who don’t know the history of the jockey have feelings of humiliation and anger when they see the statue..."  Blockson has installed an example of the statue at the entrance to the University's Sullivan Hall.Neither the Revolutionary War nor the Civil War legends are corroborated by historical records. Mount Vernon's librarian Ellen McCallister Clark wrote in a letter to Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library: "No record of anybody by the name of Jocko Graves, nor any account of somebody freezing to death holding Washington's horses, exists in the extensive historical record of the time." Nor do any of the many historical inventories and descriptions of Washington's estate mention any such statue. Moreover, stories about the Underground Railroad using lawn jockeys as signals are rendered suspect by the fact that red and green as signal colors meaning "stop" and "go" (or "danger" and "safe") were standardized by railway signals during the World War I era.
Curiously, no one postulates the theory that 'lawn jockeys' were created to celebrate the contributions of Black jockeys in the sport of equine racing, as it is a well-known fact that Black people once excelled in the racing of horses until racist horse owners decided midget-white people guiding their prized horses would be a more palatable sporting decision:
Owners won large enough purses to reward their jockeys with high wages, much as players who earn stratospheric salaries from owners who realize astronomical revenue from gate receipts, memorabilia, and broadcast contracts. And it produced the first black sports superstars.
From 1823 until the start of the Civil War, horse racing was the most popular sport in America with black jockeys reaping bigger purses for their owners. Earnings from racing provided jockeys lifestyle options other blacks, free or slave, didn’t enjoy. They were allowed to travel off the plantation, sometimes without a white escort. They were treated better than the average black person.
A slave jockey could earn enough money to purchase his and his family’s freedom. He could even earn enough money to purchase his own slaves. Of course, this was not always the case. Many times, money may have bought a certain amount of independence.
The Civil War temporarily disrupted horse racing when the horses were needed for war efforts. During Reconstruction, African American jockeys experienced some of their most notable achievements, particularly in the Kentucky Derby. The first winner of the Kentucky Derby was an African American, Oliver Lewis. In fact, there were 13 African American jockeys in that first race, five of whom also had black trainers. Fifteen of the first twenty-eight Kentucky Derby winners were African American. The youngest person to win the Derby was a 15-year old African American named Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton. Isaac Murphy was perhaps the most successful of these Black jockeys at this time, winning the Derby three times – a record which stood for close to forty years. Arguably, Murphy is the greatest jockey of all time, as his 44 percent winning rate remains the highest in history. Willie Simms is the only African American to have won all of the Triple Crown races.
Eventually, segregated competition took over interracial sporting competition for close to sixty years beginning in 1890. In his book, Forty Million Dollar Slaves, author William Rhoden attributes this demise to the “Jockey Syndrome.” Rhoden describes the Jockey Syndrome as a changing of the rules of the game when competition begins to gain ground. It usually involves a series of maneuvers to facilitate racist outcomes, including the taking away of previously gained rights and the diluting of access through coercive power and force, a phenomenon that was common outside of sports as well, of course. Black Americans would see that clearly when the Civil Rights Act they celebrated in 1875 was almost completely overturned by the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1890. [Thus] the Jockey Syndrome has been the primary mechanism in American sports for tilting the ostensible level playing field of sport away from equal opportunity and toward white supremacy.
Horse racing once was dominated by Black jockeys, thus the 'lawn jockey' is a symbol of deference to this forgotten period of Black dominance in sport, a reminder that Black people are not capable of jokes at their expense and instead must constantly be provided with positive reinforcement.
That might not be it actually. The 'lawn jockey' might have sinister roots in the inherently racist genes of white people who secretly yearn for the days of segregation or even the physical enslavement of an entire people:
At the risk of being polemic, are the families that have black-faced lawn jockeys honoring the slaves who fled for their lives or the families that aided them? I doubt it. The contemporary families who own and display lawn jockeys have most likely not heard of Jocko Graves or the stories about lawn jockeys and the Underground Railroad.The authenticity and true origins of the lawn jockey might remain a curious enigma - like the question of who finds Tracey Morgan funny? - but one thing is for sure: Stuff Black People Don't Like will include lawn jockeys, for no positivity can come from a minute Black figure, harboring over-exaggerated features that elicit laughter from those who view this bastardized creation.
Let us be honest, some people find lawn jockeys nostalgic, reminiscent of the "good old days" of Jim Crow segregation. The black-faced servant with the stooped back is a reminder of the decades when Blacks occupied the bottom rung on America's racial hierarchy -- a time when Blacks "knew their place." After World War II, White 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," wrote Kenneth W. Goings in his book Mammy and Uncle Mose. I can tell you that more than a half-century later lawn jockeys are still seen by African Americans as markers of "White space," objects that send this message to Blacks: "You are not welcome here."
Disingenuous white liberals might shriek in horror at the sight of such a boorish figurine, but Black people know that deep down a hearty laughter is ready to bellow out once they leave the room and ear shot of this person, for they recall what former President Bill Clinton said of Mein Obama before his election:
"A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," the former president told the liberal lion from Massachusetts, according to the gossipy new campaign book, "Game Change."