How can I use my privilege as a white middle-aged man to tackle systemic racism?
Something within my gift to change is my language. Words matter as words are powerful.
Changing my language is part of a bigger plan to more actively call out racism & sexism where I see it.
This post is about how I am changing my language to be less harmful, not only to race, but also sex & patriarchy.
I’ll admit from the outset, this is a tiny, tiny step & I am keen to do more – I’ve been a passenger on my journey so far. Now I am the driver.
I always try to use words specific for the context & this is a change I have been making quietly for a number of years.
So why am I writing this post now?
I want to accelerate the changing of my language. I want to tackle systemic racism. This post makes me accountable. Hopefully, others will also benefit from the list
Mixed opinions on changing terms
There are many opinions around changing our words to be less harmful. These include (largely from the Twitter threads referenced below):
- Words have the power we give them, change your relationship with the word
- Changing the words doesn’t necessarily change the bias
- What’s the point in changing words? If you want change, you need to get out there & vote / march / protest
I agree with all these. I’m focusing on what I can do now to make a change.
Obviously, there are also people who disagree with the idea of changing words altogether.
I don’t completely understand their position (largely because their argument is constrained within Twitter), but as I see it, regardless of race or sex, the amended terms actually more helpful & are less ambiguous.
Here’s my list of terms I’ve collected from various sources (most of which are contained in the references below)
|Blackbox (testing)||Closed box
Frosted glass box
|Whitebox (testing)||Glass box
|Mob programming||Whole Team (Woody, 2012)
Herd programming (Covid19 inspired)
I have to smile when I see people twig the relationship between “trunk” as an alternative for main/master branch (“trunk” was actually my introduction to pipeline development back in 2009)
Hungry for more
Do you have any helpful terms I haven’t included here?
Are any of these new to you?
What are your thoughts on changing your language?
References on changing terms
References on understanding race