Last night, SBS aired their much-anticipated documentary Date My Race hosted by journalist Santilla Chingaipe. It was a fascinating watch – but will leave you unsure if you’re inspired, or completely mortified by the results.
So she decided to set up a social experiment: four volunteers would trial run her ‘colour blind’ dating app, to see who they would match with when skin colour was taken out of the equation.
What emerged was a surprising insight into how romance and racial profiling have found themselves inexplicably entwined in modern-day Australia.
Raymond is 28, a white male tradie living in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. He’s never dated anyone who isn’t caucasian before. He compares his preferences to, um, cars.
“Some people find it very racist,” he said, referring to his preference to white women.
“To me it could be a little bit racist, but a preference is a preference. If I like a Holden I'll buy a Holden not a Ford.”
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Slightly older Alexander is Asian, gay, and exclusively dates white men - a preference which apparently is referred to as being a ‘Potato Queen’. 42-year-old Alexander said that when it comes to dating, “nothing else seems right”.
“To me white people are the epitome of class and the gold standard of desirability,” he said.
“I really feel the white race is the superior one today. I only date white men.”
Also featured were 29-year-old Indian male Abby, struggling to reconcile the idea of dating a non-Indian woman, and New Zealand flight attendant Evelyn, who only wants to date people who ‘look like her’.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom: tradie Ray ended up finding great chemistry with Muslim woman Rita, with the pair saying they are both wanting to catch up after the show.
— SBS Australia (@SBS) November 15, 2016
Host Santilla Chingaipe takes the viewers on a journey of highs and lows, as the full extent of Australia’s racism - conscious or unconscious - is revealed. In an interview with SBS’s Viceland, Chingaipe says that the hardest part of making the documentary was having what she already suspected about dating in Australia to be true.
“For the longest time I thought, ‘there’s no way someone could be discriminating against me based on my colour when it comes to dating,” says Chingiape.
“There’s no way that every time I go on Tinder someone isn’t swiping on me because of the way I look.”
But as we see in the show, the men of Australia are absolutely judging women by skin colour - and unapologetically so.
“The combination of the really dark eyes and the really dark hair...it just doesn’t really do anything for me,” says one man when shown a photo of Chingiape. Another says that he’s never been in a situation where African woman “are there, as such” and therefore she wouldn’t be his type.
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It’s heartbreaking watching their comments affect Chingiape - a razor sharp, brilliant journalist - as she is reduced to her skin colour only.
Whilst the show is a crucial reminder to check our racial prejudice at the door when it comes to dating, it will get you thinking about the list of other ‘preferences’ we deem acceptable when dating. From wealth to physicality, education or experience, skin colour or occupation; people attempting modern dating have some very specific criteria.
But as we see on Date My Race, we should all hope to meet someone who doesn’t meet any of our criteria... and still manages to blow us away.