Most of us would admit we had a “type”, but how many of us would confess that “type” is determined by looks, rather than personality? And how much of that “look” comes down to race? Do we want someone who looks like us, or do we go the other way? And how many of us are even aware that our hearts are being led by pigmentation in the first place?
Date My Race seeks to find answers to all these questions by examining online dating from the perspective of journalist Santilla Chingaipe, a Zambian-Australian woman who admits she’s struggled to find Mr Right and wonders if her dark complexion has anything to do with it. It turns out, sadly, she may be right: when confronted with her picture most guys admit they’re turned off by the colour of her skin without getting to know her, something Santilla finds- understandably- incredibly hurtful. But speaking with a number of relationship experts, she learns that it might not be their fault, that attraction- or lack thereof- isn’t perhaps within our control: it’s ingrained, something we’ve learned through observation: mostly we seek out what is familiar, what we think will biologically give us the best chance at survival.
But what if we could rewrite the rules? What if physicality was taken out of the equation?
Santilla enlists four volunteers to try out her new “Colour blind” dating app which forbids users to upload profile pics, forcing them to connect based on personality and shared interests. These are single folks looking for love who all admit they- intentionally or not- have only ever been attracted to certain races.
There’s Alexander, a self-confessed “Potato Queen” which is- as I have now discovered- a Gay Asian male who will only date white guys. (Who knew?)
Then there’s Kiwi flight attendant Evelyn who just wants to date people who look like her. Not white, necessarily, just tall and fair and without any major religious or cultural roadblocks. (So, in other words: white.)
So determined was the mother of 29-year-old Abby to find a “suitable, Indian bride” for her son, she filled out his online dating profile for him. Abby, who works in dentistry, but moonlights as a stand-up comedian, isn’t himself averse to the idea of dating outside his race as long as the person is family oriented and spiritual.
28 year old tradie, Ray, from the Mornington Peninsula, has never dated anyone that isn’t Caucasian. Apparently he got one look at Pamela Anderson in red bathers as a small child and that was it: he was hooked on blonde and never looked back. He admits this may have limited his options when it comes to finding love and he’s finally willing to expand his horizons.
What unfolds is a thought-provoking show that forces you to think about race, about the role it plays in our world and how it unconsciously infiltrates and prejudices every aspect of our lives. Date My Race makes you consider your own bias when it comes to choosing a mate. And seeing how easy it is to overcome these prejudices when they’re removed from view makes you understand how unfair racial bias can be. It also makes you realise the answer to your dating dilemmas may be staring you right in the face… but funnily enough, you’re not going to see it unless you close your eyes.
Date My Race airs Monday 27 February at 8.30pm on SBS.
Face up to racism with a week of programs challenging preconceptions around race and prejudice.
Face Up to Racism Week starts 26 February on SBS. | #FU2Racism