I made a documentary about the role race plays in online dating, Date My Race , a year ago. So I empathised with the frustration my friend felt by having to explain her blackness to this complete stranger.
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Dating is a challenge for most people, but it's even more challenging when you're from a racial minority background. If you're not being judged for what you look like, you're being asked to explain your 'difference'. For example, the data collected by one of the many online dating websites in Australia, Oasis.
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They also found that the least contacted groups were black women and Asian men. And as if it wasn't interesting enough, black African men were unlikely to contact black African women.
So, if black men aren't even looking at sisters in Australia based on these stats, the chances of dating within one's race by preference take a significant hit. I also met people that had specific racial preferences, and either dated only within their race or specifically sought out people of another race.
The reasons varied, from unfamiliarity with certain races and cultures, to just down to what they found themselves attracted to. Is it racist then to have a racial preference, you ask? Surely, it's the same as preferring brunettes or tall men, right? Experts studying behaviour have found that we tend to repeat real-life behaviour of self-segregating online. That is, for whatever reasons we don't interact with certain groups offline, we also repeat this behaviour online — even though the barriers that exist in the offline aren't there online.
And it's this collective behaviour that sees repeated outcomes for certain groups that constitutes as racist behaviour. On an individual level, it may seem innocent enough. But the fact that figures suggest that certain groups are missing out because of their race means we have to look at the situation more closely. When we don't acknowledge racism in our communities, we can't be too surprised to see its manifestations in our dating lives, too.
There is good news, though — many of the experts I spoke to for Date My Race talked about how we have been socialised to be attracted to certain groups, whether it's within our own race or outside of it.
Racism in online dating is rife for women of colour - ABC Life
And because it's something we learn to do, we can also unlearn whatever ideas we may have about certain groups of people. Curtis describes meeting another white man on Tinder, who brought the weight of damaging racial stereotypes to their date. Other dating experts have pointed to such stereotypes and lack of multiracial representation in the media as part of the likely reason that plenty of online daters have had discouraging experiences based on their race.
Melissa Hobley, OkCupid's chief marketing officer, says the site has learned from social scientists about other reasons that people's dating preferences come off as racist, including the fact that they often reflect IRL — in real life — norms. And in a segregated society, that can be harder in certain areas than in others.
Curtis says she relates to that idea because she has had to come to terms with her own biases. After growing up in the mostly white town of Fort Collins, Colo. If racism weren't so ingrained in our culture, would they have those preferences?
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Hobley says the site made changes over the years to encourage users to focus less on potential mates' demographics and appearance and more on what she calls "psychographics. She also points to a recent study by international researchers that found that a rise in interracial marriages in the U. Curtis says she is still conflicted about her own preferences and whether she'll continue to use dating apps.
For now, her strategy is to keep a casual attitude about her romantic life. Jason is out of the dating game entirely because he ended up finding his current partner, who is white, on an app two years ago. He credits part of his success with making bold statements about his values in his profile. Accessibility links Skip to main content Keyboard shortcuts for audio player.
How Racial Discrimination Plays Out in Online Dating Research shows that online dating coincided with an increase in interracial marriages. But some dating app users say that Asian men and black women can still have a tougher time finding love online.
'Least Desirable'? How Racial Discrimination Plays Out In Online Dating
Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email. January 9, 5: Heard on Morning Edition. Kholood Eid for NPR.