How Tinder Highlights Austin’s Racial Hierarchy

Dating seems to suck in general. No matter where I live or who I talk to, there’s always something: in LA everyone is self-centered, in Austin everyone is too busy, it’s hard to find people with no kids, it’s hard to find people you can talk to about anything but TV, etc.

Recently, though, I had a conversation with a handsome young friend of mine who outlined pretty blatantly what Austin’s dating world is like if you don’t happen to be a tall, white dude. My friend is an Asian man and this is a paraphrase of what he told me:

“Dating is hard. With Tinder, I dunno, it’s like as an Asian man you’re at the bottom of the list. First there’s white guys, then Hispanic guys, then black guys, then Asian guys.”

Mind you my friend is not a blogger or a social critic — he’s just a dude trying to get a date — but I thought his comments were particularly insightful and revealing of a place that I love and would like to see grow into its potential. I have heard or seen these preferences play out in bars and parties myself, but the “Tinder effect” struck me as particularly harsh.

Having been doing the dating thing myself here for a few months, I will admit that it’s hard out there for anyone, really, but can you imagine if through no fault of your own people were already inclined to not pursue you or “your type”? That would suck more, I think.

And it’s not that I think it’s racist to date people like yourself exclusively — I’ve written before about how I don’t think my preference for Latino men is racist. But a growing and increasingly diverse city with no or very little mixing? The “I don’t see race” attitude is really just a way of skipping over something that’s uncomfortable without understanding why. (Science: Most whites don’t have non-white friends, discussing race can help non-whites achieve more in the classroom, millennials think ignoring race is the same as dissolving racism).

Stereotypes exist. I just saw these caricatures of Chinese and Mexican people on candy at the HEB by my house last week. Someone on Facebook said they were no big deal, but the truth is I’ve never met a Chinese person with no actual eyes, I did recently meet a Chinese man with a heavy heart, though, and it really brought home how dehumanizing and other-ing stereotypical attitudes and beliefs can be.

Since I’ve been in town I’ve been on dates with Latinos and Asians, thought I’ve fended off creepsters from a variety of backgrounds, and I don’t know what the answer is. I grew up with an immigrant-rich community in LA where people from diverse backgrounds inter-marry all the time: Salvadorans married Philippinos, “blaxicans” are a thing, whites dated Vietnamese folks, and it just seemed normal to me.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I think it’s part of what I’ve been harping about on this blog since I started it: Texas, you’re not the way you used to be and you need to adjust accordingly. If you don’t, not only will you be acting like a douche, but you will be hurting yourself because change is already here, and you’re going to look like an idiot pitchin’ a fit by the time you realize it.

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The Price of Austin’s ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’? Critical Infrastructure Development

Recently I was telling a friend about Austin’s “Gentleman’s Agreement” to only allow one Latino and one black city council member to be elected at large at any given time and she exploded.

“What?! Sara you have to write about this, you have to expose this, people need to know!”

I laughed and I told her that everybody knows. It’s the way we do business here. It’s not a secret. And perhaps it was her LA sensibilities, or the fact that she’s never drunk Texas water, but she just didn’t get how we could live in a reality where that type of thing was blatant and yet acceptable.

Well, I told her, it’s about time for Austin to pay the piper for its bad choices.

As you probably know, Austin will be electing its first crop of candidates from districts (as opposed to at large) and many of them have never done this before. You know, perfect timing, given that 100 people are said to move to this town every day, and the roads, bridges, freeways, stop lights and parking haven’t kept pace.

What do you think it’s going to be like for a bunch of newbies to handle a growing city’s infrastructure? Think about that for a minute.

If this city had done the right thing a long time ago and included those who were helping the city grow in its governance, we would already have a seasoned group of local politicos who understand how to get things done, what needs to be done and the best options for doing it.

Instead, the reality that ignorance and exclusion hath wrought, is that, at a time when this city needs faster, better and more efficient infrastructure, we’ll be depending on a group of people who are learning as they go along. I’m not saying that the candidates aren’t smart, or professional, or worthy, or good — so hold your trolling right there.

Politics is tricky, it’s hard, it’s nuanced, it requires experience, and while we will most likely have some familiar faces back on council after this election, it’s more likely that we will have people who are inexperienced. I’ve built the plane while flying it plenty of times, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to run a city, let alone a city that’s growing at such a fast rate as Austin.

But that’s the consequence of the “Gentleman’s Agreement” Austin city leaders have maintained over the years, except it’s more likely that it will be us (as we sit stuck in traffic) that will feel the effects of it much more so than them.

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Austin’s Capital Metro Sign Massively Fails At Spanish

What’s diversity good for in a state like Texas? Perhaps not failing on an epic level at a simple translated sign? It’d be great if someone could give Capital Metro in Austin the memo because I spotted this sign earlier today on 4th & Congress and just about blew a gasket at how bad the translation is.

Now, I’m by no means a Spanish scholar, but when I first saw this sign I did a double take. Then I asked some native speakers to confirm my suspicions and we all just busted out laughing at how poorly Capital Metro translated this sign. It’s as though they aren’t even trying.

For example, the word “moved” was translated to “movada” — which is a word that doesn’t actually exist. Then later, in a longer explanation, Capital Metro changes it up and says “movado” instead of “moved” — but that’s not a word, either.

This is in addition to the fact that the translation is so clumsy and literal that it seems likely that it went through a Google translator and directly onto this sign. I know of at least two Hispanic marketing agencies in town that have tried to work with Capital Metro, and from the looks of it, they should be getting called back right about now.

I find it amazing not only that a translation this bad could get through an agency that serves a large Hispanic population, but that they’d proudly slap their logo on it for all of the world to see without double-checking to see if it’s correct. Isn’t that even protocol when you do stuff in English?

Please share this far and wide!

UPDATE from our friend Alexandra: Capital Metro’s CEO Linda Watson was honored July 15 with the 2014 Executive of the Year award during the 43rd National Meeting and Training Conference held by the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) in Atlanta.