Racist Seeks Racist

October 14, 2014

Multiple Pages
Racist Seeks Racist

So it looks like I’m not really white after all. Possibly not even female.

I’m basing this on the findings of OkCupid, the dating site that’s also a data site. A few times a year, they pour some of their millions of user profiles through an analytical sieve and serve up the clickbait-y results to eager news outlets.

Back in 2010, OkCupid selected around 500,000 profiles created by self-described “white” people, then “isolated the words and phrases” that made them “distinct” from those of other races. The most commonly Caucasian-used words were displayed in tag-cloud style infographics that had the uncanny appeal of found poetry.

That’s why I’m starting to wonder about my genetic makeup, because according to OkCupid, white women are very, very interested in ... the Boston Red Sox. Then in someone named “Jodi Picoult.”

Of the dozens of hot button white woman words, the only ones that resonated with me were “mascara,” “coffee,” and, I guess, “thunderstorms.”

“By the time the exceptions start to pile up—it seems black men prefer Hispanic women; Asian and Hispanic females favor white guys; and everyone really hates black chicks—OkCupid’s supposedly shocking study loses some of its voltage.”

I’m assuming OkCupid cofounder, Harvard math major and “big data” junkie Christian Rudder was the one who cooked up his company’s elevator pitch: “We use math to get you dates.” I feel safe making that guess because, well, I dated a mathematician and he sounded a lot like Rudder, here reflecting on that “white female” keyword cloud:

It’s also amazing the extent to which their list shows a pastoral or rural self-mythology: bonfires, boating, horseback riding, thunderstorms. I remind you that OkCupid’s user base is almost all in large cities, where to one degree or another, if you find yourself doing much of any of these things, civilization has come to an end.

For an American, Rudder displays a refreshingly un-P.C. fascination with and candor about racial differences that screams both “Asperger’s” and “I sold my company for $50 million, so.”

Need I remind you that we’re currently trapped in a niggardly niggardly niggardly niggardly world, in which even just talking about race is the new racism.

That’s why the Daily Mail portrays Rudder “as quick to point out” that OkCupid’s clients aren’t “’racist’ in the traditional sense of the word.”

You see, according to OkCupid’s latest “study:”

“Most singles seeking love don’t look outside their own race,” “despite nearly all saying they support mix-raced relationships.”

Either they really are that ignorant or no one at the Daily Mail, or even OkCupid, has heard of the Bradley Effect or just plain old social desirability bias. And those two phenomena kick in when people are responding to more or less anonymous polls. How likely, in our current Salem-esque environment, are individuals to admit they prefer their own kind on a website that displays their name, location, and photograph?

By the time the exceptions start to pile up—it seems black men prefer Hispanic women; Asian and Hispanic females favor white guys; and everyone really hates black chicks—OkCupid’s supposedly shocking study loses some of its voltage.

I’d love to get Rudder’s take on dating sites of a rather different kind.

My Wikipedia entry used to include evidence of my supposed “white supremacist” views. Without a trace of irony, one such exhibit was my observation that “the matrimonial classifieds in Toronto’s South Asian papers describe desired complexion shades (the whiter, the better) in a manner that would make a Boer, well, blush.”

Yet behold, from a “Desi” website, this essay about hugely popular online matchmaking services for Hindus:

This complexion-consciousness is reflected on The fifth question you’re required to fill in is about your complexion. You’re either ‘very fair,’ ‘fair,’ ‘wheatish,’ ‘wheatish medium,’ ‘wheatish brown’ or ‘dark.’ Neither Richard nor others interviewed could exactly pinpoint what ‘wheatish’ means.

Never mind your favorite baseball team: these profiles also ask for your caste, subcaste, “mother tongue,” and breathtakingly granular astrological details. (For the “Horoscope Match needed” option, many clients answer “Must.”)

Oh, and then there’s blood type. Against all scientific evidence, many South Asians believe that marrying within the same blood type causes birth defects; “[T]here are still people who believe that everyone comes from one of seven ‘family lines’ and should not marry someone from the same line.”

Then there’s the little matter of thalassemia. Indian singles with that rare blood condition have their very own dating site, which assures prospective brides and grooms that “it is not a contagious disease as believed by many.”

But it sure must be a racist one, since thalassemia tends to particularly pick on these unfortunate brown—I mean, “wheatish”—folks.

Or should that be… “Aryan”?

Anyhow, Christian Rudder isn’t done sifting his data:

“One interesting thing about OkCupid’s interface,” he adds, “is that we allow people to select more than one race, so you can actually look at people who’ve combined ‘white’ with another racial description. Adding ‘whiteness’ always helps your rating! In fact it goes a long way towards undoing any bias against you.”

But I thought white people were universally hated. Now I’m more confused than ever. I must be a girl after all.

Go Red Sox!

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