Taking credit for Black accomplishment in “White Papers”

As part of my teaching efforts this semester, I stumbled on https://www.sans.org/information-security-policy/ , which then leads to the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page:

“terms like Blacklist, Whitelist, and many others will be removed from SANS courseware and replaced with more appropriate terminology”.

Scroll down a bit and we learn that “women” (however that term might be defined) and BIPOC are featured, but “veterans” (see last bullet point above) don’t get a video.

Here’s an illustration of how we all have more work to do

Why is this organization offering “White Papers”? Aside from the inappropriate nature of the term, isn’t it inaccurate? Nobody is interested in a white piece of paper. Nearly everything valuable in a so-called “white paper” is, in fact, Black (i.e., the words).

Is this yet another example of whites taking credit for the accomplishment of Blacks?

7 thoughts on “Taking credit for Black accomplishment in “White Papers”

  1. There’s racism hidden everywhere. Yesterday I realised that women wearing dark tights are actually blacklegging.

  2. Recently I’ve been involved in efforts to purge technical documentation of verboten words. Most of this is BS, for sure. It is hard enough to write clearly and concisely without arbitrary limits on your vocabulary. But in the specific case of “whitelist” and “blacklist” I think we are improving things with the change. Beyond potential concerns about these words (and I think whitelist/blacklist have the strongest claim to racist intent among the verboten words), these words are not intuitive — a naïve reader is not going to understand what a whitelist is before it is explained to them. “Inclusion list” and “exclusion list” (or possibly “include list” and “exclude list”) are objectively better words to describe the concept.

    • They can’t claim racist origin. In countries like Germany, where there have been no Blacks at all until a couple of decades ago, “blacklist” is exactly the same: “schwarze Liste”.

      Darkness as a dangerous concept originates from he day/night dichotomy. Children are afraid at night, it’s evolutionary and has nothing to do with skin pigmentation levels.

      I dispute that the replacement terms are more intuitive. “blacklist” for spam rejection lists is much more intuitive than “exclusion list” or the silly sounding “deny list”.

      Here’s another Wikipedia page (Covid19 related), that requires purging!


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