A man in Casey County, Kentucky said this week that the mannequin in his front yard resembling President Barack Obama holding a slice of watermelon is simply “freedom of speech.”
Speaking to Lexington-based LEX18.com on Christmas Eve, Danny Hafley said that the racist display, which went up shortly after Halloween, has made him popular with his friends, and that he’s seen numerous passers-by taking photos with the faux-Obama.
“That’s my buddy,” Hafley said in a video published to YouTube.
“Obama’s your buddy?” reporter Adam Yosim asked.
“Well, this is,” Hafley replied. “He don’t talk. Don’t make no smart comments.”
A neighbor told Yosim that no African Americans live in the community, but admitted: “I’m sure they travel this road like everybody else does.”
Asked why the presidential mannequin was holding a watermelon, Hafley said he was worried it “might get hungry.”
Watermelons, among other items, have long been used in racist displays that depict African Americans as ” ignorant, mindless buffoons,” according to The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Michigan’s Ferris State University.
“The stereotypical association of Blacks with watermelons remains a common occurrence in the United States,” the museum added. “For example, anti-Blacks jokes often include watermelons with a level of disdain toward African Americans that is reminiscent of the racial hatred common in the early 1900s. Sometimes the jokes are ‘hardened’ by including racial slurs — sometimes “softened” by not using racist epithets.”
Hafley also reportedly used the mannequin months prior to mock the local police chief.
This video was created by LEX18.com, published to YouTube on December 24, 2010.