Technology No Match for Black Millennials and ‘Color-Blind’ Online Dating

Race dating

*Whew! With shows such as MTVs “Catfish” –  making it scarier and scarier to get online to look for love anyway, African Americans – especially the so-called black millennials, those ages 18 to 34, face challenges in this area unlike other cultures – especially when it comes to “colorblind” dating. They may have embraced online dating services like OkCupid and mobile applications such as Tinder, where users can simply “swipe right to like or left to pass” as they scroll the sites for dating and hookup options, but they can’t escape the fact that race continues to permeate and sometimes even dominate their thoughts when creating the profiles for these sites.

Today, with technology making it so easy to access dating sites at the touch of a button, matchmaker and dating coach Paul Carrick Brunson predicts that by 2017, blacks’ per capita usage of mobile dating applications will be higher than that of any other ethnic group; with young black Americans—enthusiastic adopters of mobile technology and drivers of the social media force that is “black Twitter”—no doubt leading that charge.

And it seems this younger generation is not bogged down by the weight of issues that have historically cautioned against interracial dating, so they are more open to being with someone outside of their race and they can use technology to create a unique environment where concerns about race takes a backseat, making their search for love, if not colorblind, at least not color-defined.

After all, according to a 2010 Pew Research survey, millennials are very accepting of interracial marriage, with 93 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreeing with the statement, “I think it is all right for blacks and whites to date each other.” In addition, 72 percent say that their generation believes in racial equality more than older people do.

Interracial dating

But those views don’t turn down the volume on the inner dialogue about race when it comes to dating. At least not for black millennials using the new app called  Meld—targeted “exclusively for the African-American professional.” The numbers for black users of online dating tools are not as high as it is for those of other groups. So its no easy task to not have your minority status, and everything that goes with that,  be a dominant factor in your thinking, even online.

In recent years, studies based on dating sites Are You Interested? and OkCupid have suggested that it’s not just their impressions but actual experiences of  black millenials that differ from those of their nonblack peers. University of California, San Diego professor and sociologist Kevin Lewis found that users of online dating sites are more likely to contact others who share their racial background. Another study concluded that blacks of all ages were 10 times more likely to initiate contact with whites on online dating sites than whites were to initiate contact with blacks. OkCupid’s study “How Race Affects the Messages You Get” found that black users received fewer responses to their overtures overall.

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