In a digital clip for “Patriot Act,” host Hasan Minhaj revealed that there are still way too many places with racist, federally recognized names.
“There is a place called ‘Negro Point.’ It’s actually on Randall’s Island,” he said of a spot in New York City. “When you think about racist islands in New York, you generally think Rikers.”
According to The New York Times, the point on the East River didn’t even have a name until 1984, “when a survey team learned the name riverboat workers used to refer to the outcropping of rocks and sanitized it for official purposes.” (In other words, the racist origin of the name was clear, and the name was originally in English.)
Minhaj said that while there was a hearing to rename the spot in 2011, groups including the Coast Guard and the Sandy Hook Pilot’s Association argued that “changing the maps would potentially confuse tugboat captains.”
“When have we let tugboat captains stand in the way of racial progress?” the host quipped.
As Minhaj noted, a 2015 study from Voactiv revealed that more than 1,400 federally recognized places across the U.S. included slurs in their official names.
A significant portion of the slurs was aimed at the black, Asian and Native American communities.
The host called on people to request changes to offensive monikers, underscoring the importance of suggesting names that are less racist.
“You can’t just change ‘Chinaman Lagoon’ to ‘Oriental Swamp.’”