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:
- Online: www.haringey.gov.uk/renaming-black-boy-lane.
- Telephone: 020 8489 3797
- By post: Consultation Co-ordinator, The Communications Team, River Park House, 225 High Road, Wood Green, London, N22 8HQ
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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So I attended the 2nd consultation online yesterday. Despite advising the consultation committee that in my view black boy is not a derogatory term and I've never even heard the phrase in over 30 years in Haringey, I haven't seen anything from the Consultation Committee in writing that people are disagreeing with Ejiofor's statement. It has been put forward and treated as fact by Ejiofor without any evidence to support it. I challenged Ejiofor on his statement but all I received was an aggressive response just repeating the statement. He was asked to speak respectfully to residents by Cllr Julie Davies.
Anna and maidikins have put together well argued cases for not making this change, and this thread has tested the arguments.
Is this the time for another anti petition?
I haven't checked but I imagine the local councillors are Labour and go in fear of their additional allowances and reselection, and so will be of no use, but Haringey LibDems must have a spokesperson for common sense. The LibDems also have an extensive mailing list and social media accounts.
Thank you! Unfortunately, not enough people will sign the petition. Nobody wants to put their name to something 'racist.'
I hope somebody recorded the "consultation" with Ejiofor and makes it at least partly public.
There's a quotation I'm fond of; it's from an article by the lawyer Louis Brandeis (from 1913 or 1914). Brandeis was appointed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1916. He wrote:
"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."
Social media can now cast some sunlight, electric light; and, yes, even waft a little fresh air into our Council's closed stale regime.
my family came from Nigeria to escap this tipe of democracie
At the last Council meeting it was minuted (? put in the minutes!) that Ejiofor has to provide evidence that the La Rose family and George Padmore Institute are in favour of using John's name in this way. He has not provided any evidence as of last Saturday's consultation.
To follow on Rachel’s points at the meeting, councillor Davies raised the disappearing Black Boy Lane street signs ( that will be replaced, they were ordered already but got delayed because of Covid). So I guess there IS a pandemic after all.
She also pleaded for finding a name without the controversy / unsettling family discord attached to la Rose.
She mentioned the missing answer slip from the most recent letter.
It was also noted that the leader was happy to come to BBL for the BBC cameras but didn’t take that opportunity to speak with any of us.
My points were mostly that by June, most of us will have been vaccinated and in a better place to engage with the consultation. That very soon there will be that law looking at the right way when it comes to renaming public places/statues/streets and that the process so far for us falls short. That law is keen to examine all such actions started and completed during the pandemic.
And the internal council election in May will mean that an important part of the renaming committee will be voted out, all of the above explain the haste of approving the name change. But because we are offered a lot of goodwill gestures, not obligatory, what are our guarantees of that help when the new administration comes up? Are they the ones that will have to deal with following through on the promises and come up with an explanation of why those £50k were wasted on one street when no one is in favour right now? Will the new administration be the one having to answer questions and justify what was done?
So, same same, residents railing about the way it’s being done, the lack of engagement (Rachael noted her neighbours didn’t get the latest letters for instance), missing answer slip, the still unclear la Rose name status with the family/Padmore, the whole Covid timing while the pandemic keeps peaking and we’re in lockdown, to be decided before the new law comes in place but after the council elections in May, where most instigators would have moved on, leaving us holding the ugly baby.
The council side is still ‘but, but, racism is BAD’, which is true, and no one contests that blanket generalisation.
We’re also been told ‘a lot of people think the name of your street is horrible’ but those people are never named, and they certainly don’t live on our street and will not have to deal with the fall out.
Another quick thing on budget spending : they have to put Black Boy Lane signs up. (Already ordered we’ve been told). Then for a year, we’d have ‘La Rose Lane formerly Boy Lane’ signs for a year. Then a 3rd set of signs will have to be done, for La Rose Lane. So 3 sets of new signs coming up from the budget.
Finally, it was interesting, and telling, to learn that one of the councillor that was part of the original renaming committees was focused on that budget being used to actively help minorities in the borough and wasn’t sure renaming one street will really benefit everyone. Funnily enough, he hasn’t been asked to stay in that ‘renaming committee’ and is not part of it anymore.
Again, all the signs point out that the decision has been made. But a few residents have now been approached by various independent commissions / governing bodies so there will be a follow up, and a less than flattering spotlight on the way Haringey helped the BAME community. But then again, the committee will not be there anymore to bear the brunt of the criticism.
Thanks Anna. That's a pretty damning indictment. It's obvious that noone really wants this outside of the 'Renaming Committee, that it will be expensive (see Stav Aristides' comment above suggesting that 50k is well short of the actual cost), that there is no connection with racism and, even if there was, a name change wouldn't help anyone in that regard.
What are the names of the people on the renaming committee? It's important, as Alan Stanton mentions, that sunlight is directed onto the decision makers (before they scurry away).
Ah! My husband asked the same question and they sent us a link to who is on the committee. Completely our fault, we forgot to save it hors-chat. I will ask again for it, thank you.
here is the list of all councillors sitting on the committee. It’s available from the council page. I have no intention of naming or shaming because I have seen some very reasonable positions adopted by some of those names, and I believe some are working hard to try to redress the situation. I am not interested in a generalised witch hunt but when said committee has been disbanded, I don’t see any guarantees that the gesture of good will promised will be followed through by whoever inherits this bag of ugly that the renaming process has been so far.
To be honest I don’t believe any of these councillors will go against the Council Leader who started this. I have sat on a panel, although slightly different, but found that when discussing or voting everyone seem to follow the leader..The consultation and panel is just a front. Mr Ejofor has decided and will make sure that the name is changed..full stop
I can see the writing on the wall, yes. But I have also this stupid stubborn hope that fairness, democratic process, duty of care for all of Haringey residents, including the ones of BBL, will somehow prevail and we can start the whole conversation / process in a way Haringey can be proud of. I don’t want my borough to be dragged in a ‘Baby P’ scandal exposing council infighting, fingers pointing and heads rolling again.