Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Meaning of "Lawn Jockey"

Back on September 21, Al Brophy posted a note on the history of lawn jockeys in which he noted differences of opinion as to their possible status as a remnant of white supremacist attitudes.  Evidence favoring the less benign conclusion can be found in a recent post on Slate by Seth Rosenthal, in which he argues that some federal judges are improperly granting summary judgment in cases where, in Rosenthal's view, a reasonable jury could have found for the non-moving party.  One example he cites is an Eighth Circuit case in which "the majority concluded that a black Wal-Mart employee whose supervisor routinely used racially offensive language, including repeatedly calling him a 'lawn jockey,' didn't present enough evidence to get his claims of racial discrimination to a jury."  Notwithstanding the court's decision, it is probably safe to conclude that the supervisor whose conduct was at issue did not view lawn jockeys as memorials to the Underground Railroad.  The case is Canady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 440 F.3d 1031, 1033 (8th Cir.), rehearing and rehearing en banc denied, 452 F.3d 1020, 1021 (8th Cir. 2006).

Carl Christensen
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