All Revved Up: Tinder Swipes Reveal Your Racial Prejudice

Tinder’s algorithm of swiping left and right is more than just a popular way to meet future soulmates and one-night stands – the dating app has revealed some pretty nasty racial biases about users around the world.

In 2014, OkCupid released a study that showed that Asian men and African-American women got fewer matches than members of other races. Tinder’s data matched OkCupid’s data exactly.

This advertisement, though controversial, demonstrates a very real and very problematic trend in online dating. Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III joined Jim Braude and ine where these data fall in a long history of troubled racial dynamics in the dating world. Below is a loosely edited transcript of their conversation.

EMMETT G. PRICE III: Well, it’s an app where profiles come up, and you can quickly swipe left if you want to get rid of that person and move on to the next one, or you can swipe right to learn more about the profile. Based on statistics, African-American, black women and Asian men are getting swiped left a whole lot.

Tinder faced further criticism after releasing an advertisement in August that shows a white woman, the user, swiping right on three other men and immediately swiping left (rejecting) an Asian man

MONROE: One of the things I thought about Venezuelansk brud . I was sad to read this. Two things I thought was sort of . change the image of black women, because we have a very negative iconography, from Aunt Jemima to «hoochie mama,» you know, to present day. But I thought women like Kerry Washington, Aliyah Ali, Beyonce, Rihanna, these little «hot queenies,» you know, in many ways, would change the image. And we’re seeing many more black-white relationships, or interracial relationships, so I really thought that wow, that would very much change. Particularly, since eroticism, unfortunately, a lot of times is based on stereotypes, this whole idea that certain kinds of groups of people or demographic groups of people are more hot than others, and even with Asian men, I think they’re subject to this sort of stereotype that their baggage is not big enough, you know what I mean?

PRICE: I think finally there are statistics, there are fully-vetted statistics, analytics that reveal these implicit biases and reveal these prejudices and discriminations.

MONROE: I find it shocking, because we are talking about a younger generation. We’re not talking about folks coming up in 1967, where anti-miscegenation laws ruled. We no longer, at least I thought, when we saw a white woman with a black man, we’re not in that era of . O.J. [Simpson] and his wife.

EAGAN: You’d think it would be just good-looking. If you’re some really good-looking person, whatever you are, that would . you wouldn’t get the swipe.

EAGAN: Yes. If you have some beautiful African-American woman, she’s going to get swiped more than some [to the left].

PRICE: Part of Irene’s point, though, is that some of these apps are more for potential mates and potential spouses. Maybe, Irene, the Kerry Washingtons or the Beyonces are more for the hookups, and not necessarily for the potential mates. The whole generational piece, too, is when you think back to the notion of having to bring home your significant other to your family, to your parents, and will that go right, or will it swipe left?

MONROE: That makes me feel bad and sad. The whole idea, particularly as an African-American woman, there was this whole notion that the more educated you became, the less likely you were going to be able to find a mate. That’s problematic, and one of the arguments was that black women needed to marry outside of their interest group. You would have someone who did that, and then you get bounced on about that. The more educated you become, the less likely you are to be marriageable to anybody.

And apparently, what this Tinder thing is saying, it doesn’t overcome the swipe

Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated columnist for The Huffington Post and Bay Windows, and Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a Professor of Worship, Church & Culture and Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To hear All Revved Up in its entirety, click on the audio player above.