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Route name: Negro Girls


Original Post
Owen David · · Los Angeles, Ca · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 45

Just curious if anyone knows the story behind the name of this route in JT, Negro Girls? I was climbing nearby recently and am interested in getting some perspective on this moniker's origin. What a bold line the FA, Roy McClenahan created, fantastic lead! I'm not familiar with the history of Jtree or it's pioneers from the 1970's-1980's so I don't want to come off as pedantic, unappreciative, and naive. To be honest; however, at first glance the name seems to be a vestige of an archaic norm of humor. If there is an innocuous, innocent meaning it would be enlightening to hear the story. There is so much proud climbing heritage in Yosemite, Tahquitz, and Jtree and obvio I spend late nights reading and relishing stories of climber friendships, FA's, and the grainy black and white photos that accompany them. I made light of the name, Negro Girls ("is there a confederate flag hanging from the anchors") in a comment on the N.G.'s MP route page and also a prematurely sharp judgement. Sometimes I feel like erasing hasty comments I make, but that doesn't feel quite right.

BirminghamBen · · Birmingham, AL · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,635

Here is a link to make life easier: CLICK.

A story....

There is a box canyon in Alabama that holds the finest sandstone climbing in the TAG region. Sadly, it is private property and not climber-friendly....and it has been that way for a long time.

As happens many places, a long time ago, emboldened-trespasser-climbers published a magazine article in Rock and Ice. The routes were established by some of the strongest of the strong during the eighties and early nineties. Steep, solid, up to three pitches. Here's the kicker... Many of the routes carry bigot-friendly terminology. This was more a comment on the backwards ways of the South then (and now), but once the owner got wind, as a public figure during that time, he wanted nothing to do with it and took a hardened stance.

And with that....the crown jewel of southern sandstone has been lost.

I'd probably suggest a public inquisition on the name of the route in JTree is not gonna help much.

PRRose · · Boulder · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 0
owen david wrote:Just curious if anyone knows the story behind the name of this route in JT, Negro Girls?
I always assumed it was a modified reference to the lyrics of Walk on the Wild Side, which is the name of the adjacent route:

Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls say...
Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 311

Owen.... don't worry, I can assure you that Roy is not a raciest.....

Russ Walling · · www.FishProducts.com · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,361

"... a black man can't have a suitcase???!!! "

Adam Stackhouse · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 13,240

Who cares? That's what he named the route...geez

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Adam Stackhouse wrote:Who cares? That's what he named the route...geez
Agreed, but some people want to make an issue out of how politically incorrect it is. Just leave it be.
Ocalslay Onlyyay · · Not That Into Climbing · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 1,175

I'm working on this sweet thin hand crack project, can't wait to name it once I get the sequence worked out.

"I Kill Racists"

Got a nice ring to it, eh?

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 92

My partner, Mike Freeman, who is black and I put up a couple of routes in the 80s with PC incorrect names. One is Blackboys and Backsliders (I'm an ex born again Christian) and Greaseballs and Jungle Bunnies (I'm Italian). We were poking fun at ourselves. Are we now supposed to change the names to be politically correct? I don't think so. I still find the names amusing. Unless you know what was going through the first ascentionist's head at the time, you can't really know what the name meant.

frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 92
Old lady H wrote: Isn't that what the op is asking? Hopefully folks will think to throw in a couple comments on the route names, as you just did, Frank. Makes it more fun! Besides, climbing is young enough many of the "old timers" are still here, even if geezers. Oh wait. You're younger than me...hmmm. Oops.
I was just getting a point in before people get all worked up about being ultra PC. And not by much. I'm 59 next month.
Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
Guy Keesee wrote:Owen.... don't worry, I can assure you that Roy is not a raciest.....
Back in the day, I met Roy and few times. Always seemed like a solid guy, so I certainly won't question Guy's judgment.

I find it curious though that people defend someone's right to pick a route name that others might find...interesting...but then criticize someone asking about the propriety of that route name. Since this is a country where we value free speech, if a person in entitled to pick a name that others might find controversial, isn't someone else just as entitled to question the propriety of that name? I for one don't really see the need to pick a name that might raise eyebrows, but it's certainly more polite than another route in the ORG called "Black Chicks in Heat". Anybody see fit to defend that one?

Edit: Forget to mention, good post from Uncle Ben. Sometimes these conversations are best had below the radar.
SkyB · · PDX, OR · Joined May 2012 · Points: 0

Showing my age; I think at the time of the first ascent maybe "Negro Girls" was more politically correct than "Colored Girls"? Lou Reed, hope you're digging this from the other side.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Fat Dad wrote: but it's certainly more polite than another route in the ORG called "Black Chicks in Heat". Anybody see fit to defend that one?
If someone named a route, "White Chicks in Heat" would you be upset? I wouldn't. It's almost as if some people want to eliminate any reference to race, and imply any reference to race is wrong.

What's wrong with Black Chicks in Heat?
Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 287

I am sooo offended by White Punks on Dope!!!

but not quite as much as Black Dudes on Welfare.

I guess we are re-writing historical names that are not PC anymore, actually.
I don't see the need. Its historical. History had plenty of occurrences that were quite offensive. Can't change that. Don't let it affect you and move on with your life.

but...

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
FrankPS wrote: What's wrong with Black Chicks in Heat?
Dude, you totally blew my mind. If I have to explain it to you then there's little point.
Owen David · · Los Angeles, Ca · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 45

Thanks for the dialogue and the levity. PC Bro had me on the floor as I'm a huge SP geek. The stories are appreciated, although it would be great to hear the story behind the route name, Negro Girls. Some may say, "it's an inside joke". Some ideas may stay "inside" ones head or group conversation of like minded individuals instead of going into guide books and posted on popular websites, unless that person is hoping to gain attention and infamy by putting it out there for the world to see and judge. As some here have noted freedom of speech goes both ways. Some are already making the FA some kind of victim by defending him (her?..I'm guessing him). Is "white chicks in heat" upsetting to me? Maybe the question would be better posed to a white chick. It's kind of funny if you ask me, so is "Sexy Grandma", so is "Panty Wall" (but still I'm an immature white guy). Did you notice that it's "black chicks in heat" and not "negro chicks in heat"? Did you notice that everyone in this forum is using "black" or "african american" instead of "negro"? All of you who did reinforce the idea that it's an outdated, offensive term. Just sayin'.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 877

As a child I was taught words can't hurt me.

Political correctness teaches us that words can hurt us.

Jeff G. · · Fort Collins · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 927
Greg D wrote:As a child I was taught words can't hurt me. Political correctness teaches us that words can hurt us.
^^^^^^

Word
cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

"As a child I was taught words can't hurt me. Political correctness teaches us that words can hurt us."

 I hate PC but it is reality that words carry a lot of power to hurt, put down or humiliate. I grew up in KKK land (Indiana) during the late 60's/early 70's and learned to hate racially derogatory language. However, I do remember when the term "Negro" was considered a polite and unoffensive term. It wasn't until later that it fell from grace, replaced by "African-American" or simply "black". Depending on when the route was named, the term "Negro" may have been an acceptable term, though one still wonders why it would be used to name a climbing route.

City Dweller · · New York, NY · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10
Greg D wrote: Political correctness teaches us that words can hurt us.
For me it's worth being aware that the words I use have lots of power, especially when I occupy a position of power and privilege. I may believe that they can't hurt me, but it's sure presumptuous to assume that they can't hurt anybody else either.
cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

Looked it up and the FA was in 1988. Odd that they would name it what they did at that time. In 1968, maybe, but not 1988

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Southern California
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