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Lately any time someone asks if I am single, I can pretty much guarantee they’re going to follow that question up with another one—have you tried online dating? I typically respond with a no, because black men aren’t on match.com or eHarmony. (I have absolutely no data to prove that, it’s just an assumption I have about online dating and the type of prospects I would find on these sites.) Although the thinking behind the surge in online dating sites was to simplify the whole process, it’s become clear that the same social norms that are at play when it comes to in-person dating are also at work online—at least when it comes to certain preferences like race.

If you typically meet white, black, Asian, or Latino dates in person, most likely you’re going to look for people of those same ethnicities online. If you’re going online to find “something new,” it may not be any easier than if you were to try the same at a bar, museum, or play. A new study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than 80 percent of the communication initiated by whites was to other whites on online dating sites, while only 3 percent went to blacks. Black members of the same site, on the other hand, were more open to dating whites and were ten times more likely to contact whites.

The results vary slightly from a 2009 analysis of okcupid.com, which found that men of all races wrote back to black women at a rate of 20 percent less than the average. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that this means black women are the least desirable of any race online (as this writer does); rather I think this is reflective of the fact that the interracial dating trend hasn’t yet caught on online. Let’s be honest.

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