The 'Daily Show' Breaks Down the Racist Roots of Romantic Preferences

Black women and Asian men consistently get the fewest responses on dating sites.
Apr 13, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Many online daters list a handful of details on their profile that might deter some potential partners, like a cat allergy or a refusal to consume tofu. But while some disclaimers help match up partners based on mutual interests, others reveal bigoted attitudes.

“When someone says something like, ‘I don’t date black people’—talking about all black people—that would be referred to as sexual racism,” journalist Zach Stafford explained Tuesday night on the Daily Show. “We do think about race when we’re thinking about desire and it can be detrimental.”

During the episode, correspondents Jessica Williams and Ronny Chieng explored whether minorities face actual discrimination in the dating world or whether they are just, as Williams put it, “blaming their lack of game on sexual racism.”

“There is kind of a systemic, racial bias in pretty much every dating site I’ve ever looked at,” Christian Rudder, cofounder of popular dating site OkCupid, told Williams and Chieng.

More than 80 percent of nonblack men have some sort of bias against black women, according to Rudder’s analysis of OkCupid matches, responses, and hookups. Rudder also found that Asian men had the worst ratings and lowest response rate.

While some singles maintain that desiring one race over another is about attraction, research suggests these preferences indicate discriminatory views. A 2015 survey of more than 2,000 men found that expressions of sexual racism directly corresponded with their opinions regarding diversity and discrimination. “Sexual racism…is closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference,” researchers concluded.

Williams and Chieng convened a group of what they called "disadvantaged singles." Their personal experiences matched up with the data.

"I went to this one white girl's profile. And on her profile it said, 'No Chinese guys, because Chinese guys have small dicks,' " one Asian man explained. Minority daters who made matches found they were confronted with stereotypes, with one black woman lamenting that a man attempted to correspond with her through rap lyrics.

While Williams and Chieng are pessimistic about their ability to eliminate racism in dating entirely, they offered a few suggestions to help daters keep their bias in check, such as treating people like individuals and avoiding stereotypes.