Blacklists in 2021


Maybe this didn't age so well...

What is a whitelist/blacklist?

If you're in tech, you can skip this section.  For anyone unfamiliar, a whitelist is a list of approved IPs, domains, or other identifiers that are allowed to access a website, API, or other service.  Conversely, a blacklist is a list of the same that are denied access.

Words matter

Words shape thoughts.  Thoughts form attitudes.  Attitudes grow up into actions.

To blackball someone is to reject them.

A black mark indicates someone is regarded with disfavor.

A black eye indicates a mark of shame or dishonor.

Black magic is evil.

A blacklist delineates who gets denied.

Seeing a trend?  

Let's play word association

I understand that some of the negative associations with the word "black" may not come from racist origins.  But I'm also betting that in today's world, when you hear the word "black" you first think of race.  As such, these words associate negative connotations (rejection, disfavor, evil, and shame) with race (black).

So let's have some fun...

My sphere of influence is small, but there's a good chance that if you're in it, you're a techy.  So I've got my eyes set on the term "blacklist."  Let's rename it.  Send me your thoughts, comment wherever this gets posted, tweet it out.  Get the conversation going, culture will kick in, and eventually, unceremoniously, we'll land on something else.  Something better.

Off the top of my head:

Yes list/No list

In list/Out list

Santa list/Grinch list
Nice list/Naughty list

Celebrity list/Most Wanted list

Jim Carey list/Sharknado list

Green list/Red list (thanks to Al Vazquez for this one)

Go list/No list (thanks to Maina Musa for this one)

How will we know we've made it?

I took the time to gather a few examples from around the web.  When these examples start using new terminology, we can say we're headed in the right direction.

To be clear: I don't think any of these companies/products means harm; the terms "whitelist" and "blacklist" are well-accepted in the IT community today.  Examples given only to illustrate the pervasiveness of the term and who may be able to help influence the conversation.

AWS CloudFront


Azure Web Sites


Recent Product Hunt launch



Words shape thoughts.  Thoughts form attitudes.  Attitudes grow up into actions.