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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Admit it. You’re racist.

    Welcome to 2014, a world in which nearly everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 is aware of or has engaged in some form of online dating. Whether it’s the depressing game of Hot or Not, Tinder or a more refined (though still depressing) website, such as OkCupid or, it’s likely that if you’re single, you may have waded through hundreds of profiles to find “the one.”

    The problem with online dating, however, is that on most platforms, everyone is superficial. And by superficial, I mean racist. When people lead off their profiles with statements like “not into black girls, so don’t try,” it’s no wonder the majority of American adults are single for the first time in history.

    Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, recently released a not-so-shocking exposé, “Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking),” about the statistics surrounding his dating site in regard to race and, more specifically, “who we are when we think no one’s looking.”

    Earlier this week, The Atlantic released a video in which Rudder explains a great deal of the information, all of which is regrettably expected.

    Since it first began conducting this sort of research at OkCupid in 2009, the company reported that non-black men generally applied a penalty of sorts to black women. That is, they moved on from their profiles at an alarmingly higher rate. Women tended to prefer men of their own race and also often harshly penalized Asian and black men.

    And because OkCupid allows customers to list more than one race on their profiles, we can see this trend in even greater detail among mixed-race people. Statistically, adding the phrase “and white” to the race category reduced the amount of bias. “Asian and white” had a 13 percent increase in positive feedback compared to people who listed themselves as just Asian, while the combination “black and white” had a 14 percent increase and “Latino and white” had a 6 percent increase over black and Latino, respectively.

    I’d like to think most people today make an attempt at being progressive. According to OkCupid’s research, just fewer than 5 percent of people surveyed still think “interracial marriage is a bad idea.” I’d guess this demographic has never let go of the antebellum era. But what’s the excuse for the rest of us?

    You might ask, “Does being attracted to my own race make me racist?” And that’s a fair question.

    “On an individual level, a person can’t really control who turns them on — and almost everyone has a ‘type,’ one way or another,” Rudder writes in an OkCupid blog post. “But I do think the trend — the fact that race is a sexual factor for so many individuals, and in such a consistent way — says something about race’s role in our society.”

    In other words, this problem isn’t about you, the individual, being more attracted to people of your own race. It’s about us, as a society, penalizing and judging people of color on a subconscious level. It’s about why an individual grows up to prefer dating people of his or her own race in the first place.

    Sadly, dating has evolved into an almost job-interview-like project. Does this person live in a good school district? Do we have matching political ideologies? Will their racist grandparents hate me? All of these are valid questions and point to a greater societal problem: that race still matters.

    But it’s still hard to acknowledge that we bring the baggage of white privilege and social constructs into a relationship. I don’t want to worry about that if I choose to bring someone home who isn’t as pasty white as I am. Which is perhaps why we’ve simply chosen to ignore the problem.

    In this case, perhaps we should consider taking some advice from the hit musical, “Avenue Q”: “If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit, even though we all know that it’s wrong, maybe it would help us get along.”

    And maybe we can start by interrogating our own actions and reactions in situations, like online dating, where we aren’t actively thinking about race — but where race is very much acting upon us.

    — Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him @NiHavey

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