IT Industry Getting Rid of “Racial” Terms, Next is golang

With the rising awareness to the topic, thanks to Black Lives Matter Movement, the terms that can be interpreted in a white supremacist way are being rapidly pushed out from the IT industry. Lastly, GoLang joined to the train of awareness. Some think this as a cheap PR move, some are really supporting and cheering for it.

Actually, this is not all new. With a humble search in the google, I’m able to find an issue in the rails repo in github that suggests using substitute terms for words blacklist/whitelist, proposing denylist/allowlist, for being racist and not useful. However, the issue is hardly argued against, and it was rejected nearly two years ago. But in the end, python, rails, and more other languages and frameworks drop the usage of offensive terms in the past. It was not only the non-profit organizations of open-source developers. UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, Google and more companies also dropped these kind of words in the past 3 years.

In this article, I will present you with a recent new about topic, and present a few argument for both sides. Finally, I will give you my thoughts at the last section.

What happened in golang?

At June 9th, a merge happened in the GoLang master repo, replacing usages of whitelist/blacklist and master/slave as follows:

  • Whitelist: Allowlist
  • Blacklist: Blocklist
  • Master: pty
  • Slave: procTTY

Changed words are mostly in tests and comments. The pull request fastly approved after submission, and the merge happened to the master branch.

This merge divided developers into two. Some showed support to the change with good intentions, and some are against it since they find it pretentious. 

What do people say about it?

In the subreddit for the golang, r/golang, people are mostly against this sudden change. Some people are criticising the new substitute words, some are criticising the devs about choosing words that have no racial impliance for replacement.

One of the popular opinions is from u/kinglamar53. He comes out as a black dude saying “None of these terms coming from IT are offensive.”. Some of the other users are arguing that these terms do not imply any racial offense, while just a small percentage are supporting the change.

You can find the thread in subreddit here.

My opinion

Personally, I’m supporting the reflection of Black Lives Matter movement to the industry. However, I believe this is not how we change the things. Changing racially implied words sure is a great thing, but look at the change. 5 white guys approving a request from another white guy about how black folk can be offended with certain words while a black guy coming out telling that he is not. Seems problematic, isn’t it? And the timing of the change makes it look like a cheap PR move. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposing this change, at all. I’m actually supporting much much more. It just looks repulsive and pretentious making this kind of a change.

What I think the way to go is to increase support to the non-white racial groups and non-straight-male gender groups in order to encourage and empower them to contribute more in the open-source communities so that they can stand up themselves for their own rights. Because if we cannot change the situation, all I see is lots of “Eric Cartman”s wearing “Token’s Life Matters” t-shirts.

Plus, as far as I remember, the blacklist term comes from the censorship, which includes blocking certain words or sentences on a document with a line ink, which is usually black. Blacklists are just a list of blacked things, so I see no racial impliance in the word.

I though this is where the term comes from

I have lots of posts, if you are willing to read. See you around, everyone.

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