There is a lot more to say here, and I’m working on a longer post to really talk about the underlying racism in tech and how we as an industry have failed.

In the deliverability space, specifically, the use of blacklist/whitelist is terminology rooted in racism (black is bad, white is good). Many DNSBLs use the block terminology and have done for a while. But there are still too many places that talk about blacklists and whitelists (including here even though we make an effort to not use those terms).

Better terminology is blocklist and safelist. I recommit to using blocklist as the right terminology and commit to using safelist moving forward.

It’s not enough. It’s not the only thing I am doing to support equality and fight racism. But I’m making the commitment here, publicly.


  1. Mary-Juen Sohn says

    Absolutely. I’ve thoughtlessly used these terms interchangeably in the past but have asked my team to join me in my efforts to change our language around this. Thank you for this post.

  2. Martijn says

    Thank you.

  3. Maarten says

    It will take some effort, even my spelling checker wants me to write blacklist.

  4. Lego blocks says

    Blocklist is good. I’m not sure about safelist, safe is not the opposite, so blocklist/safelist doesn’t really feel right to me. Passlist might work or allowlist. Neither of those feel quite right to me, but they feel better than safelist.

    Would redlist and greenlist touch any sensitivities?

  5. Samantha says

    Thank you! We addressed these changes in our knowledge base and internal documentation yesterday, and we will be making more updates to areas that need code changes to support it.

  6. Lego blocks says

    Linux kernel developers are discussing possible use of denylist and allowlist

  7. Chris sullivan says

    I agree that the word “safe” has connotations that may not work. I would suggest “approve” as a useful neutral word for business.


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