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Discussion on: GitHub to replace racially-loaded terms (master, slave, blacklist and whitelist)

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

It takes us white people a lot to care about things that matter. It is a small thing. It won't have industry-wide change. But, maybe white people will realize how easy it is to change shit when we start to use our voices about it.

We'll pick the wrong battles for sure, because we have never done this stuff before, caring about Black people. I want to believe it's a baby step in the right direction.

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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

maybe white people will realize how easy it is to change shit when we start to use our voices about it.

White people are perfectly aware of how to "change shit": we've had hundreds of years of experience doing just that; and we've used our voices and power to rig everything in our favour. That's precisely the problem.

If you don't want to pick the wrong battles then don't rob Black people of agency as you have done in this comment: they have voices and they want to be heard. White people (myself included) need to step back and listen to Black voices and act meaningfully - or better still remove the barriers that stop them acting for themselves. We should not simply muddle along making empty gestures that have no real consequence.

This clip from Kim Krayton talking about white fragility seems particularly relevant here.

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

Yes. I am reflecting on the harm I have done so far. There are a lot of things that are wrong with the way I approach this issue and how I used my privilege.

You are right. And I have a lot of work to do to get better. Wish I had understood that earlier.

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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

Well we Europeans have a long and sorry history that gave us that privilege, and our education systems are designed to preserve it; so it's inevitable that we make mistakes.
Let's see if Git can follow up the gesture with something more meaningful...

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Raphael Habereder

It takes us white people a lot to care about things that matter.

That is a brave assumption. Speaking for all white people is kind of a stretch and probably way out of any of our ballpark, don't you think? In my perspective, we are absolutely the loudest of the bunch, when it's about getting offended by something, especially when it's on behalf of someone else.

It won't have industry-wide change.

Doesn't it already?

But, maybe white people will realize how easy it is to change shit when we start to use our voices about it.

Again, assumption on behalf of "all us white people". Stop that, please.

We'll pick the wrong battles for sure, because we have never done this stuff before, caring about Black people.

Please, do me a favor and read this sentence again. Are you, really, explicitly saying, that whites never cared about black people before? Really? I have no idea where you get that impression from...

I would classify this as fanatical ideological talk, without any argument as for why this is needed, except "We know it is needed". That is no basis for any decision of this calibre.

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

It's change, not change that matter. It's a mini baby step.

I am saying that whiteness never cared for Blacks, even today 😉 Nothing I'm seeing is proving me wrong :D

I'm okay with being fanatic. I can look at the last 400 years of history and be pretty confident about that statement.

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habereder profile image
Raphael Habereder • Edited on

Well, at this point, it is useless to continue any kind of debate anymore.

Nothing can prove you wrong, if you are dead set on being the absolute authority about truth.
I do hope, that in the future, you take the time to take a good, long look at the world and reflect on these statements.

Seriously, I am sorry you feel that way.

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lmdj07 profile image
lmdj07 • Edited on

Raphael, I agree with your point that Damien should not make a blanket statement about white people.

However, back to the subject of this post and let me ask you something.

Do you think it's a coincidence that everything black in the English language connotes something negative (black magic, blackmail, blacklist) while everything white has a positive connotation (whitelist, whitewash, 'great white shark')?

Or could it be that those in authority in the past made a conscious effort to make it that way?

Those with the authority now should use it so I think it's the right thing to do!

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sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede • Edited on

My argument to that would be, I'm not black, I'm brown, or fair in complexion. But notice how we all spiral into these discussions about wording, which makes everyone uncomfortable either way because that's how the world is, regardless. In fact, saying 'master' is racist makes it racist, and saying 'master' is one of the qualifications my dad got, makes it nothing more than a degree. We all seem to agree that the world needs fixing but this fix should not be top 5 of the list, especially with what is going on in the States, the most recent source of all this tension

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habereder profile image
Raphael Habereder • Edited on

Do you think it's a coincidence that everything black in the English language connotes something negative (black magic, blackmail, blacklist) while everything white has a positive connotation (whitelist, whitewash, 'great white shark')?

To be honest, reading these words, mostly they actually spark the opposite effect for me, since I am more biased towards black being "exciting, more appealing to look at", so I am not sure how qualified I am to answer your question.

But I'll humour your very good question and will try to also insert my point, that I do think that personal perspective plays a huge roll, as I will demonstrate with your examples.

  • Black Magic is kind of cool (I'm more the destructive guy, which I know, is a bad example in this context), while White Magic (Healing) is boring to me. (I also don't know why this paragraph is completely bold)
  • Blackmail, very bad, that one I agree, undeniably. Though I don't know if there is "whitemail" of any kind that would be "good" in comparison. (Apparently, yes there is "whitemail", and it's supposed to be good. Never heard of that tbh)

  • Blacklist, this one, is different to me. I rather blacklist "bad.domain" than whitelist 1000s of domains I think are "good". Blacklisting is much less effort and in my opinion more helpful. Though the movement toward accept/blocklist is perfectly reasonable in that case. That would get a thumbsup emoji from me, if I knew how to type it on a keyboard :D

Whitelist, Whitewash, great white:
Whitelisting, as I mentioned before, I hate it. SO much work. Please let me blacklist instead, I beg you. Whitewashing? Bad shit, especially in movies.
Great whites? Scary as all hell, they are monsters.

Though, and that is where I am wary, I might be heavily biased toward the color black being good, because I find black, as a color, way more appealing than white.

Or could it be that those in authority in the past made a conscious effort to make it that way?

To be honest, I can't say no to that. Etymology is a complex and very interesting topic and most words that are bound to a color, have the basic color somewhere in their history. So I would like to reserve that judgement to the specialists in this case.

Maybe it's just my naivety to hope "humanity is mostly good" when creating words.

Those with the authority now should use it so I think it's the right thing to do!

I agree to a point. If it's something that actually hurts people, that would undeniably bring a positive change to the world, then by all means. Bring down the hammer of justice and bring it down hard.

But I don't see the positive it is going to bring the world to rename a default branch in a code management tool. Especially not, if there are so many more obvious things with much more impact we could do with this newly sparked drive instead (for example to bring down the hammer on the police, which I know, is a US-Centric problem right now and not a global thing).

I just think it's a huge uproar over a small thing, when this drive could bring so much more change somewhere else.

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Rémy 🤖

It's not really easy to change. Changing those defaults will break a ton of test suites, git-related software and confuse developers around the world (and especially newcomers reading tutorials). This change is making development less inclusive due to the confusion it brings to people that are not already in the game. One more intricacy that does not need to exist.

All of that so a bunch of white dudes can feel better about themselves?