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Racial segregation still present in online dating

Jordan Crawford | 2/12/2014, 9:42 a.m.

“I think this educational disproportion has caused Black women to seek love in other cultural circles where their negative stereotype precedes them and leaves them unwanted,” said Reagan. “The disproportion has also cast them in an unfavorable light amongst their own race and also leaves them unwanted.”

Sociologist Professor Kevin Lewis, from the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences, found members of dating sites are most likely to contact individuals who share their own racial background on dating websites.

He studied the interaction patterns of 126,134 users of dating website OkCupid.com in the U.S. over a two-and-a-half month period.

Lewis found the tendency to initiate contact with someone from a shared race, is strongest among Asians and Indians and weakest among whites.

While he said white people were the most likely to consider relationships with people from other ethnic backgrounds, he said the biggest reversals in preference are observed among groups that display the greatest tendency towards in-group bias.

Professor Lewis’ study also found that a person who is contacted by someone from a different racial background for the first time is more likely to reply, which he explains using his theory about “pre-emptive discrimination.”

“Based on a lifetime of experiences in a racist and racially segregated society, people anticipate discrimination on the part of a potential recipient and are largely unwilling to reach out in the first place,” he said. “But if a person of another race expresses interest in them first, their assumptions are falsified and they are more willing to take a chance on people of that race in the future.”

However, he warns that the effect is short-lived as people go back to habitual patterns in around a week.

According to verysmartbrothas.com, a reason why the studies showed black women to be least desirable than other races only reflects the site the study focused on.

The site argues that the type of Black person (man or woman) who’s already open to interracial dating is probably more likely to join a site like OkCupid. It’s not that Black men who date aren’t into Black women, it’s that the black men who are interested in Black women can probably be found somewhere else, such as BlackPeopleMeet.com and BlackSingles.com.

A Black man in an Irish pub might have a different view of Black women than a Black man in a Waffle House.

“This has a lot to do with the media,” said Hampton resident Keshia Lewis. “The media always wants to portray Black men as thugs and dead-beat dads, and Black women as loud, ghetto, and argumentative. Other races are buying into that, but we aren’t all that way.”

With this in mind, the argument that online dating isn’t into Black people changes to predominantly white online dating sites aren’t into Black people. This is still not surprising, but is less disappointing and pessimistic.