Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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Make a note: South Somewhere

Copyeditor's note: In response to a recent Chicken Corner cluck-and-flutter about Machine Project's use of the name "South Central" instead of "South Los Angeles," I received the following from Laura Britt Greig of the Black Cloud organization:

Dear Jenny, I'm Laura, a member of the Black Cloud team. ... The "South Los Angeles" comment you made struck me. I read in Wikipedia that this was the preferred name when we moved down there. I thought my boss was being old-fashioned (or just trying to drum up publicity) calling it South Central. I was hesitant to use either name for lack of knowledge, but I asked the students at MAHS [Manual Arts High School], and they all call it South Central. Everyone living there does. You say calling it South LA is respectful, but I think in the end, it's more respectful to let the people who actually live there call it what they want. Maybe reclaiming the name is essential to reclaiming the neighborhood.

This reminds me of the "African-American" vs. "black" dilemma/subtleties. All of the black people I know call themselves black. So I do, too. But in writing I often use the term "African-American," and in editing, I cross out "black" and replace it with the hyphenate ... unless it's a quote of course, or not appropriate to make a change. It's a case of riding currents, treading water and not trying to dominate the language. At the same time, I've noticed more white people speaking of European-American culture and people. It's all fluid and it doesn't flow in just one direction. Likewise, when part of Canoga Park became Chatsworth I'm sure many of the folks continued to call the place by the old name. But most went with the powers of name change. If someone asks you to call them by one name, it's rude to call them by any other. So I guess it's a question of who owns the name. Isn't it always.

Speaking of the Black Cloud Project, results will be presented this weekend at Machine. Details after the jump.

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