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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Following my consideration on the origins of West Green's Black Boy name back in the summer, Haringey Council has decided to rename Black Boy Lane in West Green.

The Council have called the exercise  a 'renaming consultation', but the online questionnaire offers only the ability to choose from a shortlist of two new names. So it appears that the decision to rename has already been taken with only the choice of name left to be decided.

They have issued the following press release.

The council has launched a renaming consultation with residents and businesses located on Black Boy Lane, as part of the wider Review on Monuments, Buildings, Place and Street Names in Haringey – which was launched on 12 June 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The council believes that the names of our monuments, buildings, places and streets must reflect the values and diversity that we are so proud of in the borough. One of the street names that has been identified as not being reflective of this is Black Boy Lane.

Meanings change over time, and the term “Black Boy” is now most commonly used as a derogatory name for African heritage men.

As part of the consultation, the council is asking residents to consider new alternative names that celebrate some of the borough’s most notable influencers, and truly reflect the borough’s rich heritage.

The two names that have been shortlisted for residents to consider are, ‘Jocelyn Barrow Lane’ and ‘La Rose Lane’. The consultation will launch today, Monday 28 September and will run for a period of 4 weeks to Monday 26 October 2020.

Letters will be arriving on Black Boy Lane residents' doorsteps this week, who can respond to the consultation using one of the following methods:

If Haringey residents have concerns or queries about place, street or building names in the borough, please get in touch. Send your views to Leader@haringey.gov.uk.


Dame Jocelyn Anita Barrow (15 April 1929 – 9 April 2020) was a Barbadian/Trinidadian British educator, community activist and politician, who was the Director for UK Development at Focus Consultancy Ltd. She was the first Black woman to be a governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and was founder and Deputy Chair of the Broadcasting Standards Council.

John La Rose was a publisher, poet and essayist. He founded the Caribbean Artists’ Movement and publishing company New Beacon Books which has a bookshop in Stroud Green. In 1975, he co-founded the Black Parents Movement from the core of the parents involved in the George Padmore Supplementary School incident in which a young Black schoolboy was beaten up by the police outside his school in Haringey.

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Tags for Forum Posts: blackboy lane name change, review on monuments, building place and street names

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How can the words black and boy be offensive?  And the street numbering goes up to 121. There are other buildings with a name but no number. There are many houses converted into flats.  There's a school, a shop, a garage, other businesses and freehold companies.  A borough name change wouldn't affect people in the same way as a street name change.  Yes, very easy to have an opinion isn't it, when it doesn't affect you?!  Good! I won't have to read your nonsense anymore!

I have an opinion because the name is part of the Borough, London and my life. You've mentioned the school. But it is not the residents property. It was there before you lived there and will hopefully will be changed soon. 

This time is really the last word from me.. direct your nastiness to others in future.

And it is mine but the name doesn't bother me.  What will bother me is the time, effort and expense I will have to go to if the street name is changed.  No idea what you're saying about the school: it's not called Black Boy School if that's what think. If this is nastiness (or an offensive name), my goodness, you need to get out more and see what real nastiness (and offensiveness) is.

You may have noticed that those at the start of this thread who were in favour of the change have dropped out of posting.  Do you think it could be because of posting responses like “Good, I won’t have to read your nonsense anymore”?

I'm allowed to comment on people's posts as you have done so on mine - and Stephen has just called me nasty.  So get off your high horse Michael!

Because you were nasty to him.  I’m not on a high horse and you are attacking the person once again, not the argument 

And you're blaming me for people no longer posting because of a post I wrote today?!  I think that's 'attacking' me, don't you?  So please feel free not to comment on any of my posts again.

Okey dokey

You’re argument cuts both ways. I agree that residents of a road don’t ‘own’ the name to that road and do not have a right to veto a change to its name. But equally, those who are ‘offended’ by something don’t have the right to change a name simply because it offends them.

No one would dispute that some may find the name offensive. But this whole topic ties into a broader debate around who decides what is ‘offensive’ and what (if anything) should be done about it.

No one has all of the answers. However, to approach the topic rationally and reasonably (which I appreciate is something of an absurdity on an online discussion forum), I would suggest that the questions which ought to be asked are:

1. What is the etymology of the name and is there any evidence to support those who claim it offends them?

2. Who are the ‘offended’ and how many are they in number? Why are they offended and, depending on the answer to 1 above, can they be educated to overcome their sense of being offended?  The sensitivities of a small group (or even just an individual hoping to signal their virtuosity) should not be imposed on the majority.

3. If sufficient numbers are offended, would a change in name resolve the issue? Are the alternative names fairly selected and are they acceptable to the majority?

4. When should the change be made? Is it correct to make the change during (for example) a global pandemic and does this impact negatively on whether individuals can be heard (per 2 and 3 above)?

5. What is the cost of making the change - both in terms of public funds and to private individuals? Should the change still be made when this is balanced against 2 and 3 above?

As I say, I don’t have all of the answers. But, if the Council wanted to approach the issue reasonably, then I’d suggest they consider the above. Listening to vocal minorities or taking anecdotal soundings from those who agree is in no way a fair or balanced approach.

Thanks William -- couldn't have put it better.

Yes. I'm not sure either that 'now' is the right time for such a debate/change.

Please note that in my first comment I said that 'on balance' I think the name shouldn't be changed. But, when pushed, especially by one-sided comments, I would go for a name change.

I really don't personally believe that the name has anything to do with slavery, black kids etc. and would need to see some evidence on that. Which I would accept. 

May I add to Number 4 that rising unemployment statistics now show Haringey heading the list.
Like the rest of the country we should also expect worsening mental and physical ill-health, rising domestic violence; and serious delays in other medical services due to Covid-19.

The list is far longer. But why go on? It's obvious to anyone with an ounce of compassion that the timing is totally wrong.



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