“Black Boy Lane” in London has been renamed after the 2020 BLM protests over George Floyd’s death, but signs bearing the new name have already been vandalised.
London’s Haringey Council last year announced that “Black Boy Lane” would be the latest street to see its name changed over racism fears, after they began an inquiry following the death of George Floyd into whether it was offensive. They concluded that “the name continues to have a negative impact on Black residents and visitors to our borough due to its racial connotations.”
The local authority argued that “many” residents “shared the concerns about the racial connotations of the name and the impact its continued use has on black people in Haringey,” and that as a council, they were “committed to taking action to both address inequality and celebrate the rich diversity of our borough”.
“La Rose Lane” was set to be the replacement choice, honouring the Caribbean anti-fascist and leftist poet, John La Rose, who lived in the London borough during the latter half of the 20th Century. The road signs were changed on Tuesday, noting that the street was now “formerly Black Boy Lane,” which will remain as part of a year long “transition” period.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to pay tribute to John La Rose with a new street name,” said Councillor Peray Ahmet, Leader of Haringey Council. “John made such a huge contribution to Black life both here in Haringey and across the UK and played an important role in gaining recognition for Black authors and artists, as well as championing inclusive education.”
When polled as to whether residents on the street were actually in favour of the name change, 78% in total were against it. Ironically, out of the residents who identified as black, not one wanted the name changed.
“This move is representative of the current impulse to hunt out racism and offence where there is none as a performative display of virtuousness,” said Robert Poll, the founder of the heritage preservation group, Save Our Statues, calling the renaming a “futile gesture.”
As the Daily Mail reported, the entire endeavour will cost the taxpayer around £186,000. This will include a payment of £300 to each of the residents on the street affected, who will have to change their addresses, along with £50,000 spent on a support and administration officer to assist them.
“Our officers will continue to be out and about in the area over the coming weeks providing practical support to residents who need it,” Ahmet added. “I also want to be clear that this is just one small part of the work that we must do to ensure Haringey is a place where everyone feels welcome and included.”
Local reporter Olivia Opara tweeted images from the street on the day of the name change, revealing that a number of houses along the road had put signs with “Black Boy Lane” displayed in their windows, seemingly in protest at the name change, regardless of the compensation they would receive from the council.
However, within 24 hours of the name change being made official and the new signs erected, at least one of them was vandalised with black spray paint, covering the new name of “La Rose Lane,” while leaving the section “Formerly Black Boy Lane” uncovered.
This news and commentary by Jack Hadfield originally appeared on Valiant News.