Have you had a hard time finding other like-minded white people to date?
Sam Russell suspected his dating startup, Where White People Meet, would ruffle a few Internet feathers. But 53-year-old Russell — the former owner of a used-car empire and the resident of a Zip code that is 92.4 percent white — swears he isn’t afraid of the backlash to his brand-new dating site. and that white people faced a dearth of online dating opportunities.It’s why the site’s “About” page carefully avoids mention of Russell or his wife, Jodie, and why their address is listed as a P. The couple bought the domain “wherewhitepeoplemeet.com” in May 2015 and commissioned their son, a high school senior, to design it. He and his wife, who technically owns the dating site, quickly became convinced both that online dating was a good pre-retirement business endeavor … (He still owns the chain’s location in Layton, Utah, in an office that now doubles as the listed HQ for White People Meet.) Out sick from work one day last year, he found himself marveling at the number of Black People Meet ads airing on daytime TV. I just believe it’s hypocrisy to say ‘one group can do this, but another can’t.'” This is Russell’s first foray into the online dating industry; he’s spent most of his career in auto sales, as the president of the since-franchised chain Automatic Car Credit Inc.
While an early version has been online since August, the site officially launched last weekend when Russell unveiled an immediately divisive billboard southwest of Salt Lake City.Although that billboard depicts a smiling white couple, Russell insists that anyone over 18 may join, regardless of race or ethnicity.(“If you’re a black man who prefers to date white women, this might be a good option,” he said — presuming you can get over the object of your affection’s stated racial preferences.) It costs a month to message other members, and the site’s terms of service specifically prohibit messages that “promote racism, bigotry, [or] hatred.” “The site is not racially motivated in any way,” Russell stressed.And yet, regardless of what Russell thinks about his site or his own intentions, there’s no denying that dating is racially motivated — and online dating, demonstrably so.Data from Ok Cupid, the most transparent of the mainstream dating sites, has repeatedly shown a sitewide bias against people of colour.(“Every kind of way you can measure their success on a site — how people rate them, how often they reply to their messages, how many messages they get — that’s all reduced,” the site’s data scientist once told NPR.) Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has also found that “racial segregation in romantic networks” is not only “robust,” but “ubiquitous.” I ask Russell if he’s at all aware or concerned that white people already had the upper hand in online dating.