In an attempt to fight discrimination, Google’s Chromium project is striving to write gender and racially neutral code. According to Google’s code style guide, the company will replace words such as “blacklist” and “whitelist” with “blocklist” and “allowlist”.
“Terms such as “blacklist” and “whitelist” reinforce the notion that black==bad and white==good. That Word Black, by Langston Hughes illustrates this problem in a lighthearted, if somewhat pointed way,” notes the company.
As per a recent commit on Chromium Gerrit, a developer has attempted to replace all instances of “blacklist” and “whitelist” in “components/blacklist”. The development comes in the wake of protests against racism and police brutality in the US.
“This is the first of 2 changes to rename components / blacklist to components / blocklist. This contains all the class/method/member/variable renaming. There should be no functional differences here,” reads the commit.
There will be a follow-up commit that will rename all the files and directory to escalate these changes. “This patch will be followed by another patch that renames the directory/files and updates the necessary build system rules. The vast majority of the changes here are simply replacing an ‘a’ with an ‘o’.”
It is interesting to see the software giant take such minute but significant steps that aim to make a positive impact towards an inclusive world. In fact, the usage of terms such as “master and slave” and “whitelist and blacklist” have long been normalized in society despite their negative connotation. We hope more companies follow the lead to eliminate any sort of gender and racial discrimination in their capacity to help make the world a better place.