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Articles tagged with: whitelist

Written By: Gary on February 25, 2007 26 Comments

It’s kind of a simple question, but I can’t find a specific answer. Do the terms, WhiteList and BlackList, that we commonly use these days to block/allow e-mail, web sites and comments have racist origins?

I can’t find the answer. I think about it every time I modify instructions for our mail filtering at work, just waiting for someone to ask me, but I can’t find an answer anywhere on the history of it. I’ve found some things when looking on-line related to hollywood (usually political writing) and on blackballing people (also from work or organizations) but nothing on the origins of the word even in that context.

I’ve seen some software FAQs skate around it with some stupid explanations to avoid the issue, but I think red + green universally mean stop + go so greenlist and redlist makes sense and since we don’t have green people it wouldn’t be considered racist (or even incorrectly thought to be). Maybe this is a non-issue, but I’m wondering what you think.There are tons of options: stop/go, allow/deny, junk/non-junk, etc. Also, even if it doesn’t have racist origins if people perceive it to be, then how much of a difference is there.

Later: Ah, I found this and I do recall part of the origins of blackball, (I knew this already, I just forgot that I knew it) but it’s still not an answer.

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