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How racist is online dating?

Here’s what we can glean about online dating and interracial communication

is online dating racist

There has been a lot written about trends in online dating communication, especially when it comes to users of different races interacting with each other. Here are three things to know:

1. Many people experience this kind of discrimination in the real world as well

According to this article on Yahoo!, one Tinder user named Takara Allen was called out by a date for not looking white enough:

Allen noted that the pressure to conform to societal ideals gets worse the darker the individual is. “I would never wish how I felt receiving that text message on anyone,” she said, adding that her recent abuse opened her eyes to the beauty-shaming women darker than herself face. “I feel their outrage so much more than I did before.” Allen, who works as a makeup artist, continued, “I’ve grown up hearing ‘You’d be prettier if you were lighter’ and ‘You’re pretty for a black girl,’ as if black women are just generally unattractive, and so it’s a surprise when one of us is.”

2. There seems to be a particular bias against black users

According to this article in Salon:

OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder once told NPR, “Black users, especially, there’s a bias against them. Every kind of way you can measure their success on a site — how people rate them, how often they reply to their messages, how many messages they get — that’s all reduced.”

3. In some cases, racism might be confused for self-fulfilling prophecies

Not all hope is lost; there may be other factors that affect communication between races in online dating settings. According to this Huffington Post article:

Lewis also found that people were more willing to reply to a user of a different race after that person initiated contact. Furthermore, they were more likely to start a conversation with a user of a different race after that interaction.

Lewis said one qualifying factor for this could be simple preemptive discrimination. In other words, users are less likely to initiate contact with a person of another race because they’re not sure that person will be interested in them.

“Part of the reason site users, and especially minority site users, do not express interest in individuals from a different racial background is because they anticipate — based on a lifetime of experiences with racism — that individuals from a different background will not be interested in them.”

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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.

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