Nia Decaille I sipped my glass of wine, as I stood in the kitchen of a colleague who had invited me to her house warming party. In a sea of white faces, I was one of the few Black women in attendance. I left feeling like there was a glimmer of hope to continue dating and finding someone to share my love of hip-hop and blackness with.
After I left the party, I realized that during our chat neither of us had brought up the way that race influenced our ability to find potential suitors. From my experience, online spaces like Tinder were dominated by a whiter audience. I would often match with all of black men I deemed nice enough to swipe right, but rarely matched with guys outside of my race.
I found this nervousness as more of an anxiety. Online, this anxiety still manifested, but in different ways even when dating within your race. Unlike past generations, hopeful singles looking for bae, like myself, while navigating online spaces were way past shaming Internet dating.
But, dating while black and a woman came with its issues. Maybe my bio was too deep for the intro? Would I be tasked with educating a suitor who was sweet, but often said things that were filled with misogynoir? It was an exciting, and frightening experience that felt more like trying a new roller coaster at Six Flags. Every time I got on a new ride, or acquired a new match, I felt those first pangs of nervousness in my tummy about meeting someone new.
For a lack of a better word, the friendly rapport we built over messages before we even made it to the big finish— or the date— usually dissolved when something silly, discouraging or insensitive was said. Before I knew it ,the ride was over, and all I could remember was that my stomach felt like it was in my butt as we raced to the finish, and how I felt even sillier for wasting my time. I was frustrated because instead of refusing to get on the roller coaster, or deleting the app, I thought about my options; could I go back to approaching guys at bars or flirting until they got the message enough to ask for my number?
I reminded myself that I wanted to try something new, so I stuck with it. What I wanted was to find black companionship; someone who I shared a mutual attraction with, went on a few dates with, and shared laughs with, while exploring all of what was out there.
Then, I thought, what was the alternative? So far, my friend was right, kind of. In a matter of about two days, I had a solid amount of matches—20 matches to be exact. After a week of leaving each other sweet messages and getting to know each other, I thought it was safe to give him my number. After the first text message, things seemed to go downhill and fast. In this case, he seemed interested in getting to know me and I was willing to look past the delayed messaging responses. Again, the conversation went sour.
He had a habit of using pet names. We sometimes—not all the time— talked politics and social justice. We agreed that institutionalized racism and white privilege did exist ,and that it has contributed to a lot of factors in being black. But what I grew tired of was those smaller instances of gender-based microaggressions that he thought were harmless and left me irritated, and exhausted. This experience accelerated on a dating platform with a simple swipe.
Imagine that this happened several times within the course of a week, it felt worse than just one bad blind date. And when you think about it, what other options are there? You may also like: