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Swedish town ditches 'negro' neighbourhood

TT/David Landes · 24 Sep 2009, 07:09

Published: 24 Sep 2009 07:09 GMT+02:00

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“They’ve come to their senses,” said Kitimbwa Sabuni of the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) to the TT news agency.

Karlstad’s Negern neighbourhood has been around for nearly 150 years, but came under fire recently after a private citizen complained that the name was “objectionable, insulting, or just plain rude”.

The council in turn sought guidance on the matter from the National Land Survey of Sweden (Lantmäteriet), which ruled in June that the name should be seen as "exotic and evocative" and represented a part of Sweden's cultural heritage.

The ruling outraged Sabuni and others, prompting a heated debate on the opinion pages of newspapers across the country throughout the summer and forcing the Karlstad council to take action.

After a committee designated to review legislative referrals made its recommendation, the council’s City and Buildings Committee decided to remove the name, following a similar ruling by the city’s Place Name Division.

“We can’t have a name which we don’t even dare to say out loud,” said buildings committee head Håkan Holm to TT.

The meeting was preceded by a demonstration outside Karlstad’s city hall arranged by the Centre Against Racism (Centrum mot rasism) and other organizations.

“Our pressure has brought results,” said Sabuni.

However, there remain some who weren’t at all offended by the Negern neighbourhood, such as the head of the Christian Democrats in Karlstad, Peter Kullgren.

“The name should have been allowed to remain,” he told TT.

“It’s an old name, and if we continue to take away names that some find offensive then we’ll end up with an extremely poor cultural history in the future.”

Story continues below…

He claimed the neighbourhood received the name shortly after the American civil war and after the majority of the slave trade had ended.

“So it’s more like a confession, an approval for what had happened in the world at that time, rather than a sign of the linguistic conventions of the time,” he said.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

07:50 September 24, 2009 by ropegun247
what's the new name they picked? "we hate muslims"? They can historically attribute it to when head dummy Bush bombed the hell out of Irak looking for weapons of mass destruction, the tooth fairy, big foot, nessie, and the red hat gnome...
07:54 September 24, 2009 by Erwin Mahnke
What if someone came from some desert and found the name Sweden repulsive - would that be changed as well?
08:15 September 24, 2009 by Tutu
they should have left the name on. Next time Barak Obama is in Sweden he should be made to visit the Niger city. Peter Kullgren of Christian Democrats view is not strange to me.

Judging by thier last election in thier Kyrka, we can see that SD is now gaining much ground in the Swedish Church. The church is really tired of the immigrants. I hope Pauli and DreEstwd are with me on this.
08:47 September 24, 2009 by swedekk
Tutu, yeah, we are talking about the election where 11% voted. That's how much the Swedish population care about "their church" or religion for that matter.

The name was also picked long before people even knew how Negros even look like, because it didn't exist any in Sweden at the time. The word Neger doesn't even have the same meaning as the English word Nigger which foreign people may think
08:52 September 24, 2009 by karex

"The church is really tired of the immigrants. I hope Pauli and DreEstwd are with me on this. "

Is it just me or does this sound very unchristian? And if the Christian Church has become Unchristian, do they really have any point in sticking around anymore?

No wonder the church elections had such low turnout.
09:50 September 24, 2009 by BrittInSweden
@ Swedekk. Isn't Negern translated to Negro?

Which itself is not racist but instead was used (not so much anymore) as the name of the race from sub-Saharan Africa. Its also a river in northwest South America.

Quick, someone better go change the name of the river before someone becomes offended.
10:26 September 24, 2009 by Britswedeguy
Regarding the word Negro as an insult is in itself racist - surely that's implying being black is something bad?

Maybe attacking Swedish culture isn't the best way to be accepted in your adopted country.
12:43 September 24, 2009 by DreEstwd
So there are 15 million black people who are ok with their country being called, Niger but "Negem" is wrong. This story is just funny.
13:00 September 24, 2009 by Beynch
If Negern has been the name of the area for 150 years there is no reason to rename it now. This is PC run amok. But some political elements on the fringe left has been known in the past to re-write history. The old guard of the East Block were experts at it. Instead, you left wing loons should amend your attitudes and stop force feeding us with egalitarian gibberish!
15:26 September 24, 2009 by pathan
This is a modern world. People have stopped racism. So please my negro brothers, dont whine like mules by being black. U have earned enough sympathies from this drama like Jews have reaped enough from Holocaust thing.

Live on equal terms and its not offensive if someone called u Negr cuz lots of my african friends they r proud to be called Negrs. Bring urself into 21st century n live on equal terms and save the traditions of Sweden together !!!

Peace, my brothers !
15:45 September 24, 2009 by ironman294

You're a moron, keep embracing the failed policy of integration in Sweden and watch as Rosengård and other neighborhoods turn Sweden into a dump.
16:30 September 24, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Negern was named 150 yrs ago.

The people who protested this in the first place need to find jobs. At least then they'd have something else to do.

Call it a victory for political correctness. Kinda silly IMO.
17:05 September 24, 2009 by Dinaricman
Well why not change the name to Aryan? Could this offend anyone? What about that former Yugoslavia Country Montenegro? What are we to do with them?
19:34 September 24, 2009 by KamiZ
people u have to understand.....sweden's culture is one of a tolerant and just society...tht in my opinion is more important to preserve than any name....and speaking of names....many names tht were common b4 rnt used now...such as referring to people with down's syndrome as "mongols".....it isnt wht v think is right....the people who r being referred to should have a say in wht they r called....if u engage in rascim and jibes u hurt sweden's culture and traditions...the very things u think ur protecting
19:34 September 24, 2009 by Leprehcaun
I think it's sad that people have been offended by this.. but accusing us to be racists (I heard that a long time ago from the fanatical "africans in Sweden" or whatever-leader) makes me want to say f u!
20:08 September 24, 2009 by jag2009
Its another case... which happens in europe just like in UK, Germany and France... its just rediculous. How about I change my name at the DeedPole......
21:26 September 24, 2009 by kenny8076
just like in the US, Africans can make rules in europe too. National Afro-Swedish Association? what a joke, if there was a National Caucasian Asscociation we would be racist. but these types of groups and holidays celebrated around the world are OK, i found out my local university in washington DC hands out grants and scholarships if you were born in most countrys of africa, but me as a 25 year old white male who had an income of 17,900 last year didnt qualify for financial aid for school, not even a Pell grant. Black is spanish is Negro, why arent they being attacked? oh ya thats right, there too busy taking over the U.S. too
22:02 September 24, 2009 by A British Swede
Hang on. Why are you reading the Local? It's Swedish news in English, basically for those who are immigrants in Sweden, who can't read Swedish. For some reason, you all seem to forget that and some are even trying to tell Sweden where it's going wrong despite the fact you don't live here.

Why don't you all go back home with your racist comments?

Sweden would be better without you.
22:11 September 24, 2009 by Grippen
British Swede - do you realise, that your comment is xenophobic?

What do you have against white caucasian non-muslim immigrants, who pay taxes here and care about Sweden's future?

Why do you call racists people who just do not want Sweden to become Nueva Somalia?
22:12 September 24, 2009 by Dinaricman
Grippen, She is a liberal Marxist. No thought.
01:07 September 25, 2009 by Captcha
Just change the name to Swedish homosapien Africa nous and be done with it.
02:49 September 25, 2009 by Alexander.

And that's about all I can say about this travesty.
03:41 September 25, 2009 by lumia
Wow, this is the first article I've seen with so many comments. I guess racism is one of the things people like to talk about. *sigh* Negro is originally a spanish word that means, black! That's it! It's just a color, not a person. If people are going to make such a fuss, then the word should just be erased, period, and the spanish language will have to be changed. But guess what? If all the efforts in the world were to erase that word, someone is gonna make a big stink out of something else, you can't make everyone happy ok, so just stop focusing on the negative and enjoy the positive in life because it is too short to waste on this nonesense. If you don't like the neighborhood, move out! We have the ability to make a choice, so exercise it and stop wasting everyones time. There, I feel better now. You all have a great day.
05:14 September 25, 2009 by odinmp5
negem,negro, that means black in spanish.

i wish i could live in a neighborhood called "black".

it would be really cool.

i really think all the afro swedes i have met are really cool people, but many of them suffer from paranoia, they see racism all over.
06:33 September 25, 2009 by kenny8076

"but many of them suffer from paranoia, they see racism all over."

ya they do that in america too, its called getting ahead, there paranoid because its rewarding for them, theres a lot of jobs when it boils down to a white person and a black person the black person who even might be less qualified for the job still get it, because the employer is afraid of racial lawsuits because it is so easy for some god awful reason they are allowed to still use race as an escape goat for not being as good as someone, not to say blacks aren't, i work with a lot of hard working black people. but its still a huge problem, it happened to my dad when he had to make a decision and he is the least racist person you will ever meet. in america theres black groups still arguing for there 2 acres and a mule in return for what happened with slavery, blacks that couldnt for there life trace back to family who were slaves, you know how many africans world wide spread out now that had NO family as slaves? but still talk and complain about it, likes its our fault
08:51 September 25, 2009 by jonathanjames61
To ,I am an African,I will speak as a morden African,all you comments are well understood,1,I dont see any reasons wrong in the name of a town,there is a place called hell in Norway,that does not make it exist as hell,Negro town,hmmmm,its sound like the Swedes have commited genocide in the past,,may be , realy this was a town for slaves 150 years ago or before,but all the same sins are forgiving and forgotten,I think we are African should leave this issue of racism to be burried and dead and gone in our mind,better face positive things in our life,we now leave in a small world,the swedes are where they are today because they were able to come in trems with the past,but its very sad that we africans still leaves in the past in anothers mans world,the worst happens in my country Nigeria,that are much more bigger that racism,the evils happen in Somalia that are bigger than racism,the human degredation happen in south africa that are worst that racism,are this town Negro Town,Negro town in Swden reamins very peaciful,althgough never been there before,how many none racist town in African can boast of sytems that work n Negro Town?So wake up and see youself a generation of new age,The money wasted for thiis names change and campaign etc could have provive good road and eletricity for my village in deltastate,so why all this hola bola.If home was better Negro town would have a been a tourist town for African,cant you see see,its time to remove the dirts in our eyes than removing the dirts in another mans eyes,would the white man ever be a racist when you only come to visit his land and go back to home sweat home,can they ever be racist to Japaness,So African must thinks,AfroSwedish society must think.Thats my opinion
09:47 September 25, 2009 by Tutu
brit swede dont decieve yourselves. Everybody reading the local either lives here or have lived here before. 95% of people reading have connections with sweden one way or the other. Let us not decieve ourselves. sweden is not an attration for immigrants. poeple just use sweden to get permit to stay in europe. the fact of the matter is that anti-seminism and racism is becoming too normal in Sweden. I will never be able to understand why we could be fighting to keep a name invokes pain and hurt. The same Sweden would not allow some people to bear certain types of name because their are noble. ONly in Sweden, state church and among racist political parties in europe that we hear rubish like this.
17:46 September 25, 2009 by double concerto
How absolutely pathetic and gutless!!!
08:54 September 28, 2009 by sunsista
I am African-American and also have ancestry from the Caribbean and the name does not offend me. I thing the powers that be could have consulted a few of the HBCU's - Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the US such as Moorehouse (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied there), Spellman or Howard University and received some insight into the name and how best to handle it. Perhaps changing the name to Africa Town would have made more sense. When I first read the headline I thought it was yet another town with Black folks living there for so long and God only knows what horrors went on. After the civil war there were many towns established by freed slave under the Freedman's Bureau that became economically successful but were burned down because they were a threat to whites. Negro Wall Street was in Greenwood County, Oklahoma and was attacked by bombs from above by angry whites who swear a black man attacked a white woman which, as usual turned out to be untrue. There were at least 8 towns like this that were destroyed. Negro town as a name is not an insult!

Now, there are some who made comments about Africans being paranoid about racism and seeing it everywhere. Black folks are not paranoid! You need to read a book and see an old movie called "Black Like Me" about a white man who disguised himself as a black man in the late 1950's and the horrors he went through. No way is racism over by any means. You have the luxury of not noticing it becuase it's not applied to you but there are differences in the general lack of health that even result in low birth weights consistently across the board even for Africans who migrate to America and swear racism is in our heads. Scientific evidence shows that once they reach the third generation, dealing with the pervasive psychological effects of the subtle racism and the institutional racism is something that is lifelong and plagues every aspect of life. To measure the data about this, European scientists were used to re-confirm the results in the interest of pure scientists assessing raw data (not becuase their opinions were more valid simply becasue they were white). Of course South Americans could not be used to re-confirm becuase they routinely undercount those of African descent in their countries! Mexicans, Columbians are a real mess with this. There is more African blood and culture running through the Hispanic and Latino worlds that they lay in deep fear of whites like you knowing just how much is there! I'll be happy to enlighten all of you! ;)

America has a lot more truly juicy stories to tell but many don't want to hear about what happened before and after the civll war.
15:18 November 14, 2009 by Shawn77
Negro or negern is a derragatory therm used by some people towards black people so hence it is a therm that should not be used. But as usual the swedes cant see any other perspective than their own. "I am not offended by it (since I am a white swede, duh) so then noone should."

Sweden tolerant society my ass. They are the most insensitive people in the world that completely lacks the ability to see things from other peoples perspective.
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