Single black female seeking ... a response!

On the dating site OkCupid, men of every race give African American women the cold shoulder

Published October 9, 2009 8:55PM (EDT)

With Obama in office, Nobel Peace Prize in hand, America is said to be "post-racial" -- but apparently no one's told that to single men. In an undeniably ballsy move, the dating website OkCupid just released statistics breaking down the racial makeup of matches on the site. There's a lot of information to sift through, but luckily OkCupid breaks it down for you by issuing a handy take home point -- black women are screwed. "Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should," reports the site's blog. "Essentially every race -- including other blacks -- singles them out for the cold shoulder."

Despite replying to more messages -- OkCupid's way of expressing interest in another profile on the site -- black women get 25 percent fewer responses than women of any other race. Now, there is any number of feasible explanations for this. Maybe black women are less selective in who they send their messages to, because they send so many, and their potential partners are less compatible. Maybe all the super hot black women have congregated at a different dating site (though the study controlled for confounding factors such as attractiveness and height).

Whatever it is, neither age nor politics is the reason. "OkCupid’s users are better-educated, younger, and far more progressive than the norm," according to the site. They take this to mean that most other dating sites would be even more racially charged, but this fact has any number of interpretations -- namely, that the young and progressive are not immune to sexual politics. So much for a "post-racial" generation.

It's fitting that these stats were published on the eve of the release of "Good Hair," Chris Rock's ode to African Americans' beauty battles. The movie has sparked discussion of African American beauty around the Web, most poignantly in the Washington Post, which published essays by African American women on their relationship with their hair. Most of these are fraught with childhood memories of teasing, subsequent insecurity and a battle towards self-acceptance and ownership of their beauty. The truth is that fashion magazines -- aside from those catered to the African American community -- still typically have white women on the cover (despite the recent flurry, Vogue covers have a long history of sidelining black women). And the latest young ingenue prancing about prime time? Usually not black. OkCupid even features a pert white girl as their homepage mascot.

That's not to say that times aren't changing. For better or for worse, little girls will finally be able to watch an African American Disney princess this Christmas, and they may find a Barbie that better approximates their own face under the tree. The first lady is known not only as an intellectual match to her Nobel Prize toting husband, but a fashion icon, and a fox. And anyone who doubts that black skin and full lips aren't unbelievably sexy? Well, take a look at Serena Williams on the cover of this month's ESPN Magazine and get back to me.

Now if only single men would get the memo.

By Alexis Fitts

Alexis Fitts is a Salon editorial intern.

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