When words are more than just words: Don't BlackList us, by Espartaco Palma

How we communicate words is important, the code, test and documentation needs to be part of the ongoing process to treat better our coworkers, be clear on what we do without the need of established words as "blacklist". Do you mean restricted? rejected? undesirable? think again.

Master, slave, fat, archaic, blacklist are just a sample of actions you may not be aware of hard are for underrepresented groups. We, your coworkers can't take it anymore because all the suffering it create on us, making us unproductive, feeling second class employee or simply sad.

Let's make our code, a better code.


The cultural bias goes beyond skin color, gender, ethnicity, age. The list goes on and on. The majority of people code without the idea on how words are also actions, and is way beyond etymologies and standards.

In this talk I'll be describing my journey on public and private code, trying to make people understand how we can be better without some words that, without been a taboo represent a great deal for underrepresented population in the industry.

As a People of Color (PoC) and immigrant in USA I can attest how the code I do collaborate and maintain is usually plagued with involuntary bad language that few people looks like incorrect just because is normal and accepted language, even standardized. Calling something a slave may be normal, but makes us remember how our ancestry and even us lived under the pressure of not been free.

I've work on this particular issue because is not only a about words, it also has technical difficulties that includes but is not limited to standards on Best Practices. Going up to Deployment while interacting with multiple computing systems that may, or may not be prepared to be changed yet.

I've suffer xenophobia, racism, ageism and more while collaborating on public and private projects, but I'm not here to complain but to offer my experience and how I've able to speak, first, for myself, and then to include more people who doesn't feel strong enough because the fear of be pointed as problematic or even lost their job on retaliation.

Edit proposal


RailsConf 2021 - Accepted [Edit]

Add submission