As good as it might feel for those with white privilege to pretend we live in a "post-racial" society, one has only to give most dating sites the most cursory of glances to shut down this notion altogether. However, have you ever taken an Implicit Association Test for racial bias? You might find the results surprising.) One response to the micro-aggressions experienced on swipe-to-reject dating apps is the proliferation of racially-specific apps like Black People Meet, Asian People Meet, Latino People Meet, Native American Dating (and just to keep things driven-snow-pure, Where White People Meet).
The biases and snap judgments that permeate our society are amplified through technology, and the swipe-to-reject models of popular dating sites can be utterly frustrating for people of color, because judgments based on photos are highly susceptible to the stereotypes and implicit biases that come into play when viewing photos of strangers. While these sites can seem to offer safe spaces for people looking to exclusively date people with shared cultural identities, the need for separate, race-siloed spaces to feel safe strikes me as outdated.
A new study of racism in Ok Cupid messaging finds a bit of hope in a sea of largely same-race interactions.
He found that people from all racial backgrounds disproportionately contacted users from their same racial background.
Lewis found similar patterns: "Most men (except black men) are unlikely to initiate contact with black women, all men (including Asian men) are unlikely to reply to Asian women, and although women from all racial backgrounds tend to initiate contact with men from the same background, women from all racial backgrounds also disproportionately reply to white men." Ok Cupid, like so many places, is good place to be a white dude.
Lewis suggests that one factor in online dating's racial segregation could be what he calls preemptive discrimination.
And yet, can you really blame marginalized people for seeking out safety and comfort?
Having a certain preference for a certain style isn’t inherently wrong.However people were more willing to reply to a user of a different race than they were to initiate contact.And right after they did so, for about a week, they were more likely to start a conversation with someone of another race.Online dating apps provide fertile ground for these kinds of appearance-based biases to take root.And that’s starting to spark some very important discussions around dating and identity.