In fair Brantford where we lay our scene, I got racist heckled on Tinder. I don’t know quite how else to put it.
There I was, home for the holidays and bored out of my mind, casually scrolling through the app, looking for validation, when I stumbled upon Noah. “He seems normal,” I probably thought of the average-looking white guy with no bio before swiping right. And would you look at that, it was a match!
I continued swiping, not expecting much since it was pretty late at night, but he sent me a message. Now I wasn’t expecting to find my soulmate on this app, but I also didn’t expect what came next.
Rather than a cringey pick up line or boring conversation starter, Noah wrote, “I’m not a fan of your skin colour.”
My first thought was, “this isn’t a great pick up line,” so, I cleverly responded “Um. What.” Feeling a need to explain, he continued: “your skin colour…It’s gross. Reminds of shit,” ending it off with a “sorry,” like a true gentleman.
While this isn’t the first time that race played a part in conversations I’d had on the platform—with my race often being something that people exoticised and used to quite ignorantly ‘hit on’ me—it’s certainly the one that stands out the most.
Let’s break it down. For context, I’m a second generation Canadian of Indian descent, so yeah, I have brown skin. But I’ve never felt uncomfortable in it before.
I was born and raised in Markham, a city within the Greater Toronto Area that boasts of diversity and multiculturalism. I’m barely used to being a minority, much less experiencing racism. Apparently I’m spoiled.
Now logically, I know this doesn’t reflect on me or my worth as a human being in any way, but I’m a sensitive person, and the thought that my existence somehow offends Noah from Brantford still makes me uncomfortable.
And then there was the self doubt. Am I overreacting? I mean, this wasn’t like a hate crime or anything. Who cares about this dude’s opinion? But for some reason I did. I’ve had longer conversations with telemarketers but somehow I was going through the five stages of grief for this guy.
What got to me the most was that he wasted no time in swiping right just to tell me unprovoked that my skin colour offended him. That was his only goal. He just as easily could have swiped left. I just as easily could have swiped left. He had no way of knowing we would match and yet he went out of his way to ruin my night.
And I mean, yeah I reported the guy, but the incident put me off from the app to the point where, after a little deliberation, I just deleted my account.
Preemptive measures because Brantford pic.twitter.com/TpmGILFbg4
— still anchal but it’s october (@anchalsharma_) December 22, 2017
Not only did I give up on my quest for true love, but this one seemingly insignificant interaction coloured my perspective of the whole city.
My parents just recently moved to Brantford, so I don’t know anyone there apart from my family. Although this interaction took place online, it made me paranoid every time I left my house. If someone looked at me too long, my rapid conclusion was that they must be racist. Even worse, I found myself feeling grateful to people, store clerks, anyone, when they would return a smile and not actively harass me for not being white.
A better solution would be to screen for hateful comments before they get sent, something in a similar vein to Soothe.
Regardless, I probably would have rested easier that night if I had known that some real action was being taken against this guy, instead of wondering if anyone aside from my two loyal twitter followers would even care.