Having just turned 30, SBS presenter Santilla Chingaipe went on a mission to find out if racism was sabotaging her love life.
She documented the experience in the doco Date My Race which airs on Monday, February 27 at 8.30pm on SBS as part of Face Up to Racism Week #FU2Racism.
“People seem to think racism is very overt,” says Chingaipe.
“Someone saying bad things to someone or behaving in a certain way… I don’t think that they think it manifests itself in behavior, in how certain groups of people are treated and in relationships.”
In the dating world – whether that’s through online services such as Tinder or real-life encounters – Chingaipe says she experienced prejudice first hand.
“Certainly when I’ve gone out and met people, strangers, they have come up to me and they’ve said some pretty interesting things.
“Like ‘do you have a big booty?’ Thinking I might be like Beyonce or Rihanna or something: or the hair thing.”
People asking to touch her hair “all the time” is one of her pet hates, but right up there is the question ‘where are you from?’
“It is one of the most annoying questions I get asked,” says Chingaipe.
“When is it just going to be acceptable for someone to consider me Australian? Why do I have to constantly explain my blackness?”
Although putting their personal life in front of an Australian audience of millions may be intimidating for most of us, Chingaipe says the most challenging aspect was facing racism head on.
“The hardest part was having what I already knew validated,” she says.
“For the longest time I thought there’s no way someone could be discriminating against me based on my colour when it comes to dating.
“There’s no way every time when I go on Tinder someone’s not swiping right on me because of the way I look.
“To hear repeatedly ‘actually it’s your colour, it’s your colour’… I can’t change it.”