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Racy JC- Online Dating—the New Jim Crow
Throughout its history, our country has done a lot to separate people of different races— Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, miscegenation laws… But the last 40 years have integrated schools and neighborhoods, allowing people of all colors and cultures to feel welcome. So when I see regression (as I often do), I feel the need to bring attention to it. The most recent evil? Online dating. Yeah, I said it! Facebook, Twitter, and yes, online dating are not bringing us together, but separating us.
Many people who are wookin’ puh nub online, state in their profile that they will date any race. What they do, however, is so much more important than what they say. They tend to discount certain racial groups when they’re sitting at home eyeing profile (manufactured stats and a ten-year-old photograph). A recent study from my alma mater, UC Berkeley, stated that in general, blacks were much more open to dating whites than the reverse, and that the “reluctance of whites to contact blacks was true even for those who claimed they were indifferent to race. More than 80 percent of the whites contacted whites and fewer than 5 percent of them contacted blacks, a disparity that held for young as well as for older participants.” Damn.
I will get to some of the other races later, but first I will speak about black people because I have done a little research of my own. When interviewing people for I Got the Fever, many non-blacks (not just whites, but Asians, Latinos, and others) were concerned that they might say or do the wrong thing around a black person. No one likes to walk on eggshells; so people tend to choose someone they think will make them most comfortable. Now, some of these people might also just be racist a-holes, but I think most of it is snap, superficial choices. I also think people are less likely to make those superficial choices when they meet in person.
Black women have it particularly rough. In its study OK Cupid found black women were the least likely to get a response back from any ethnicity, including black men. For shame, brothers! But the sisters are not alone. (Ironic, right?) It turns out that Asian men also run up against significant online dating barriers. A UC Irvine study of Yahoo! personals says that “The hyper-feminine image of Asian American women contrasts greatly with that of Asian men, who are often portrayed as asexual.” Ouch! Move over, sisters. I think we have a winner in the category Shittiest Online Site Treatment! The UC Irvine study goes on to say that “White women were more likely to exclude Asian men.” With over 40% of Asian women marrying non-Asian men, the number of single Asian men is likely to continue rising. (The obvious solution is to get the sistahs with the Asian guys to make some sweet Blasians, Blackenese, or afro-Asian lovin’.) It seems that Biff, Brad, and Charles (aka the modern American white males) are the only ones coming out on top in the online dating world (highest in demand off all races), with the rest of the races falling somewhere in the middle.
What could have brought us together has become a tool that further separates us—a sentiment echoed by OK Cupid co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan. NPR reported that as OK Cupid “looked at the numbers there was a sense of sadness in the room. Not that they didn’t expect the numbers, [Yagan] said, it’s that they hoped that on the Internet it would be less pronounced. ‘The Internet makes it easy for you to talk to someone of a different race,’ he said. ‘We see a lot of people dating across geography, a lot more willingness to cross-traditional boundaries. We thought people who are online are more forward-thinking.’” So in addition to stripping us of our privacy, our dignity, and even our immortal souls, online relationships (social media, online dating, and their ilk) have pushed us closer to our separatist past. Move over Jim Crow; here comes online dating.