Improving Ourselves, One Word at a Time

Over the last couple of weeks, in the wake of the most recent abhorrent events bringing systemic racism back to the forefront of our minds, we at Alpine have taken a moment to look inward. Yes, we absolutely vow to take every step possible to eliminate unconscious prejudice from our hiring and compensation processes. Yes, we each individually vow to put ourselves into the shoes of every person of color with whom we interact, and treat them with the respect we expect from others. Yes, we will ensure that our culture is anti-racist, rather than just not racist. And we will continue to look for opportunities to treat all humans with respect and love.

But what about our terminology?

In the information security industry, we have identified that there are implicit racial undertones in one of the core concepts we preach – whitelists and blacklists. In information security, we use the term “whitelist” as a list of things that are good (or allowed); and “blacklist” as a list of things that are bad (or denied). These concepts are so deeply baked into our industry that their origin is lost to the ages, but frankly we don’t care. The time has come to retire them and acknowledge that going forward, we will no longer consider bad things as “black” and good things as “white”. Effective immediately, we will talk about Allow Lists and Deny Lists.

We will continue to reflect and look inward to identify and drive out other terms that perpetuate negativity.

Will this modification to our terminology change the world? Not on its own. We realize this is a little thing, But we like to think this can help us do our part in making the change we want to see.  Little things add up.  These are just words, but words used mindlessly can contribute to systemic, unconscious bias.  

#BlackLivesMatter

Steven Pressman

Author Steven Pressman

Steve is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and its products. He serves as the chief solutions architect, coordinating architecture and DevOps efforts for cloud, hybrid, and on-premises infrastructures. Read his full bio here.

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