Google proposes an internal code change in Chrome to replace the word blacklist to blocklist to eliminate all the instances of racism

Google has been playing an active role to stand against all forms of racism. For the past few weeks, the protests that are going on all over the globe to support the slogan: ‘Black Lives Matter,’ Google has also stood firm in the support of this movement and protests.

As an extended gesture to show how seriously the teams at Google Chrome are taking this issue, they have proposed a way to move away from all sorts of slight and subtle forms of racism even, by changing the terms like ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist.’

It is a great gesture because although they do not mean this, terms like ‘blacklist’ do suggest something bad. And ‘whitelist’ is suggestive of something good. So, to avoid hurting any race of people, they have decided to substitute these terms with words like ‘blocklist’ and ‘allowlist.’

In October 2019, the Chromium Open Source Project included guidance in its guide for official code style about how to write racially neutral codes. This document also outlined the same thing that Chrome and Chromium developers must avoid terms that are even slightly racial and may hurt the sentiments of a particular community or race. In this document, these codes were mentioned, and their substitute words were also suggested.

So, this means that Google had been thinking about this overly sensitive issue even before the latest unfortunate happenings that prompted the ‘Black Lives Matter Movement.’

It shows that teams at Google are very intuitive and genuinely do not want to hurt anyone, and this is quite nice to know.

Not only this, Google had already started heading towards substituting these words in May 2018, but Google’s internal coding still contained many references to blacklists, which included an entire section of code termed ‘components/blacklist.’ So, it was not eliminated completely back then.

But now, due to the recent events of protests against police brutality and racism, a Chromium developer has come up with a new code change that safely replaces all possible instances where the word ‘blacklist’ is used, without breaking any part of the browser. Their ultimate goal is to rename the ‘components/blacklist’ with ‘components/blocklist.’

As per the sources at Google, this is the first of two changes to rename components/blacklist to components/blocklist. This contains all the class, method, member, and variable renaming without bringing any functional differences. This patch will be followed by another that will rename the directory/files and updates the necessary build system rules.

There are more than 2000 references for the word ‘blacklist.’ All of them will be replaced when the code change will be reviewed and accepted.

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