Race and place names, in the news again

December 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

An article in today’s L.A. Times and a recent Daily Show episode, Amazing Racism, reminds us that we still have work to do as a nation in healing our history of racial discrimination, right down to what ends up on maps.

And lest we try to cloak ourselves in the notion that ugly place names pertain uniquely to the attitudes of far-away-others, we have our own local history of place name alienation attached to a street and a former LA-area waterbody.  A link to my previous piece on the N-word Slough turned up in the comments to the LA Times piece, and Joe noted it here.

Source: Cal State Dominguez Hills

I’ll write a little more about the wetland itself another time.  Today is for remembering the lives and courage of regular people, 19th Century African-Americans finding their way in the newly colonized, racially-charged Los Angeles.  Is there a way to honor the perseverence, while also genuinely balming the pain?

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§ 5 Responses to Race and place names, in the news again

  • Mike Letteriello says:

    This old heritage of racism in our place names is slowly going by the
    wayside, along with ill-conceived plant names, such as Digger Pine.
    But sometimes it undergoes a resurgence, even when there’s “progress.”

  • david rowley says:

    There must be other equally offensive geographic names. Is indian creek a problem for native americans being labled as eastern asians? We need to get over being offended by lables and words which are now vulger but used to be a few years ago acceptable. Why is it ok for african americans to use the word on each other with no offence taken. I myself would find being labled a negro an offence. The word is outdated and itself boardering on vulger. I do favor renaming like Dominques as it recalls the history rather than an occupier or use.

    • rrrapture says:

      Totally racist response BTW. And yes “Indian” Creek is a problem because it erases the name of the Indigenous people whose territory it is (ie Tongva, Chumash, etc). However the n-word is a racist slur and if you aren’t Black then you don’t get to police how Black people reclaim the word.

      • That’s racist to say certain races aren’t allowed to speak. Perhaps we can also say if you aren’t from California you dont get to speak on the topic of this name? Perhaps we can go further back. If you aren’t from the time period when the Slough was named that you dont get to speak. There fixed the subject. Permanently.

  • Charlie says:

    that’s the exact place i thought of when i saw the title of this post.

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