My biggest fear was that no one wanted to choose me because I was black, and yet I felt guilty for doing the same thing, since the only black person I’d ever dated was that boy in sixth grade. At first I ignored the Ok Cupid blog post, but it put a pin on the race issue, like a little red flag I’d be forced to come back to.
On dates, we’ve talked about things like “code switching” (people taking on different personalities or dialects depending on who they’re with) and how to fit into the environment you’re in without having to erase who you really are. (I doubt decisions to date within one’s group are conscious for most people; racial bias is likely ingrained.
I’ve felt we could relate in ways I couldn’t with a white partner. After hundreds of years of social conditioning, the same way the brain says “hot, don’t touch” when it sees fire, it may say “not for me” when presented with a potential partner of another race.) I’m not saying you have to make a solemn resolution to date a person outside your race this year; I’m justsaying you should stop assuming you won’t. When things don’t work out now, I try not to get defeated by that Ok Cupid data: Instead I tell myself that I’m not looking for those dudes who rate black women poorly. When I do, I will have made that choice from a fully formed place, and I’ll be with my partner because I truly love him or her, not because I don’t love myself.
When I read the results, all I could think was: Everybody hates black women! I remember looking around at the people in my all-white department and thinking, My God, no matter what I do to try to meet someone, at the end of the day, the main thing people see is that I’m black.
Their chart made it painfully clear: When a woman on the site sends a message, her likelihood of getting a response is much higher if she’s any race but black. The data made me feel hopeless about finding a partner.
And the people in my white hipster bubble I thought I had so much in common with? But as hurt as I felt, I would eventually look back at this as the start of a journey that would change the way I saw myself.