A Brief History of Date Lab Racism
We know that the vast majority of daters in the Washington Post Magazine's blind date feature, Date Lab, discriminate based on gender. Of the 3,300 potential District daters in the Post's applicant pool, only 9 identify as bisexual—and only one bi woman has actually been set up on a date.
So how many local Date Lab daters discriminate based on skin color? Plenty! A brief history:
A lot of daters set up by the Washington Post just don't want to date white people. Set up last March, professor Steven Kelts requested anyone but a white lady: He asked for "An Asian, Indian, Latino or black woman who is educated, likes to talk about ideas and wants to travel the world with me!" Another dater told Date Lab, “I tend to like girls that show signs of being foreign-born or maybe have something ethnically awesome about their looks.” Sadly, the Post matched him with a woman with a “Midwestern” appearance.
Other daters are looking to date exclusively white. In 2009, Patrick Chang stated a preference for “Tall, Caucasian women." Unfortunately, his date told the magazine this: “I tend not to find Asians attractive." When she met Chang, "With a name like Patrick I was kind of expecting an Irish guy," she admitted. "I tried to be as open-minded as possible." The pair declined to pursue a second date.
Chang's date isn't the only one to nix the entire continent: In one 2008 date, both Asian daters didn't date Asians. "I thought he was attractive and well put together, but you always have to end it with 'for an Asian guy,'" Stephanie Villaflor told the Post. "I don't usually date Asian guys." Her date, Christopher Dum, admitted: "I've only really dated white girls." Daters are generally open about their intra-racial racism: In 2006, a half-Filipino, half-Indian guy revealed a prejudice against Indian women—he finds them “a little snobby.”
Most racial preferences are aired out of disappointment—when the date who arrives is a little too white or a little too Indian. But sometimes, racial preference makes a match. Son Vang told the paper his date has "gotta be Asian, preferably Vietnamese." When Caroline T. Nguyen arrived, "I wasn't sure if my date was going to be Asian, so I was pleasantly surprised when she was," he said. Later, Vang told the paper: "At first we were trying to figure out why The Post set us up. We thought it might be the Asian thing." They hit it off.
Dater prejudice isn't limited to race, of course. After being set up with a man who uses a wheelchair, one dater reported being “really mad” at Date Lab for refraining from disclosing her date's disability prior to the meeting. “I felt like I was set up . . . I'd look like a jerk, and he'd just be ‘the handicapped guy,’" she told Date Lab. "I also didn't think it was fair to him—what if I had turned out to be a mean, tactless person?” What if.
For the record: Date Lab's gays daters can be prejudiced, too. “He's attractive, but [he has] this whole aura [of] your basic white guy,” Bob Baden said of his 2008 same-sex date. “I go for a more ethnic or foreign look.”