Master, slave, blacklist: Red Hat in turn changes its vocabulary

Master, slave, blacklist: Red Hat in turn changes its vocabulary Cybersecurity

Billy Van, an American actor, natural and grimacing in “blackface”, around 1900. A very popular caricature spectacle once, become unacceptable. Image: Wikimedia Commons / public domain

The link between the Black Lives Matter movement and more broadly the return to history and its gray areas (I highly recommend reading this fascinating article on Tulsa, place of a frightful racist massacre in 1921, and its memory) and the tech wasn’t obvious at first. However, in the flood of consequences of the murder of George Floyd, African-American who died suffocated in May by a policeman in Minneapolis, in addition to the ethics of facial recognition and the question of collaboration, or not, with the police, the choice of words is also taken into account by a series of tech companies and organizations.

“Make different voices heard”

After the cybersecurity agency of the British government, the NCSC, at the end of April, GitHub in mid-June and other organizations linked to IT, it is the turn of Red Hat to announce, this Tuesday, its will “d ‘eradicate problematic language to make open source more inclusive’.

Chris Wright, Chief Technology Officer of the Linux publisher, explains in a blog post:

“Open source has always been about making different voices heard to share ideas, repeat, challenge the status quo, solve problems and innovate quickly. (…) Like so many others, the Red Hatters [employés de Red Hat], have come together in recent weeks to talk about current systemic injustice and racism. (…)

At a recent corporate meeting, Demetris Cheatham, Red Hat’s global diversity and inclusion manager, reminded us that having space to listen and learn is to really listen to each other. others empathetically and without debating or questioning someone else’s experience, and that there is much suffering felt by people around the world, including in our Red Hat community. ”

A team to study code, documentation and content

Questions resurfaced at the same time as to the language used in the open source and code communities, and in particular as to the use of terms like “master” and “slave”. Chris Wright observes that from the early 2000s, people raised this problem, without success until then.

“Red Hat is committed to reviewing our own use of this problematic language and what we can do to eradicate it from our practices and vocabulary.”

A team is formed by the company to audit its code, documentation and content. “We will start making changes to the documentation and content when the problematic terminology is used conceptually (that is, referring to nothing in the code).”

The Ansible community (free and enterprise software platform acquired in 2015 by Red Hat) began to replace “master” by “main” (“principal”) and “whitelist” and “blacklist” by “allowlist” and “denylist.”

Read also

GitHub wants to remove the terms “master” and “slave” from its tool – June 15, 2020

When brands “must” speak – June 14, 2020

IBM abandons facial recognition to fight racism – June 9, 2020

British NCSC bans “white list” and “black list” to fight racism – May 4, 2020


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