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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