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The first time a guy actually asked me out, I thought he was messing with me. What I didn’t know then, and wouldn’t understand until I returned to London for an internship after my college graduation, was that he hadn’t been playing a cruel trick.I was studying abroad in London, and years of steady rejection, along with daily reminders from my male bully that I was “too dark,” or “too black,” ensured that I would never believe this guy when he said I was beautiful. After spending some time abroad—following my semester in London, I bounced back and forth for vacations, an internship, and graduate school—it began to dawn on me that while I had been made to feel like a hideous, lumbering monster in the United States, as soon as I left the country I became interesting and attractive to men.

I read the OKCupid study , which plainly stated that “men don’t write black women back” regardless of much they responded to others.

One of my best friends, who is also black, called me when she read the study, nearly giddy. This is what I’ve been saying, but nobody believes me,” she said. If anyone asks me why I haven’t met anybody yet, I’m sending them this study.” She closed her OKCupid account.

Her glee at finding evidence was understandable; it’s incredible, though, what counts as good news when you’re dealing with something painful. I also read the post was eventually removed from their site, but its defiant, almost celebratory bigotry was a product of the same broken system that would allow Mayer, whose work is rooted in black culture, to feel comfortable referencing the KKK to express his aversion toward black women.

Before my first trip abroad, I asked a longtime crush to go to the movies with me. But soon he told me that he was being harangued by his friends for agreeing to go out with me, and he called off the date.

He joked that he wouldn’t be able to find me in the dark, anyway, since I was so dark-skinned.

The more I traveled and lived abroad, the more the contrast was amplified.From Scotland to Italy to the Dominican Republic to just across the border in Canada, I was met with the same positive reaction.It was the inverse of my experience in America, where, from east to west coast, cities to suburbs, men treated me with indifference.After each trip, I’d return to the United States confident, excited and determined. I was naive, and yet I was determined to figure out what made my dating experiences in America so different from my time abroad. has a more narrow view of what’s attractive, exemplified by a British cousin of mine who looks like me and is rarely boyfriend-less. ” is often the first question you’ll hear in the U. when someone wants to set up a friend; a question I have yet to encounter elsewhere.I imagined that I’d cleared an imaginary hurdle, freed from the nun’s life I’d resigned myself to. I knew Americans could be very specific about our dating preferences, in the same way we are about everything else we consume. What took me longer was to understand how often the answer to that question includes racial preferences and biases.I was reluctant to fully accept what I subconsciously knew was a huge problem, but this willful ignorance couldn’t stand for long.