Online Dating

Online Dating Is Helping to End Racial Segregation, One Email at a Time

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Racial barriers are tough out there in the streets, bars, and subway platforms where we congregate. It’s a social minefield where our eyes dart surreptitiously at all the hot people, scanning for the one we slip our number to, who more often than not, sadly has a face that looks just like ours. Or not. The latest edition of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences is betting on the “or not” camp with new research that suggestions racial barriers could be broken down by the use of online dating. But only if we make the first move.

The study tracked the messaging of 126,134 OKCupid users in the United States, and saw that people acted as racially segregated online as much as they did offline, up to a point. Indians and Asians were the most likely to stick within their own race for potential dates, while whites were the most eager to mix it up with someone of a different skin color. Why? Pre-emptive discrimination. Non-whites have been too afraid to send a “Hey, what’s up? Do you really speak five languages?” to people outside of their race, feeling pessimistic about the discrimination they think they might experience before it even happens.

But if people do get your message, regardless of race, if they think you’re cute, they’re most likely going to want a date. When men and women received overtures in their inbox from a person of a different race for the first time, it made them more likely to respond to other cross-racial messages in the future. It even made them more likely to initiate dates with other races within the following week. But that was only if someone else initiated the online flirtation.

The moral here is if you’re one of those people teetering around their bias and thinking, “I’m not racist, I just have a type,” you need to get over it and start Rosa Parks-ing your profile. Simple as that. Taste all the flavors of life’s great rainbow. It doesn’t matter what the person you end up with looks like all it matters is that you end up with someone. Martin Luther King had a dream, and apparently, it looks a whole lot like a first date.

And remember, biracial babies are the cutest kind.

Image via Veer.