Intersectional Confessional: My date with a Trump supporter

Lydia Mattson | Contributing Artist

In hindsight, using Tinder the first week of freshman year to “make friends” was a bad idea. But all my (white) friends were doing it, and I felt a slight yearning for the right swipe of approval that has become a cultural mainstay as dating apps surge in popularity.

Most of my matches were black. I was used to it as a mixed-race woman who has attended predominantly white institutions most of my life, I am well aware I am not most white men’s first choice. Perhaps this expectation elevated the feeling of finally matching with Liam, an extremely attractive white man in comparison to everyone else I’d connected with thus far.

We talked for a few days and decided to go on a date. Upon meeting, only a few minutes into our conversation, I realized he was conservative. His texts hadn’t portrayed this, but I have conservative family members, so I wasn’t immediately fearful. The more we talked, however, the bolder he got. Before I knew it, he was lambasting the government assistance that has kept many people in my family afloat and allows me to attend Tulane, the black culture I was raised in, the environmental pollution impacting my father’s old housing project to this day and the police brutality that has put mine and my family’s lives at risk multiple times. When I rebutted his beliefs, he lectured me into silence. And my visible discomfort was ignored because he saw me as an object not as a person.

I don’t remember what I wore, where we ate or the walk back home, but I can still recall the visceral fear I felt when I realized I was two miles off campus with someone I barely knew whose racist, classist, virulent beliefs put me, and the lives of those I love, in danger.

Later that night, I wondered if his whiteness, and my resulting excitement about his attraction to me, caused me to overlook red flags before I decided to meet him. But there were none, and that made it scarier.

Women of color must exercise many extra precautions in this world, and unfortunately, online dating is no exception. Since my date, I’ve often wondered if the white guys my friends meet from Tinder are like him, and they just choose to overlook it. I wonder if there would have been a second date if a white woman was in my place.

A few days later, I was sitting in PJ’s when I overheard a white girl talking to her friend about her boyfriend. She told her that though he is racist, it’s just one of his unfortunate quirks. She ended the conversation by saying they both talk over movies, and therefore it’s the tiny things that make them perfect for one another.

As a white woman, she, along with many other women on Tulane’s campus, has the privilege to see the good in men who perpetuate threatening ideologies. My dating pool sharply decreases in comparison when overlooking the bad endangers my life. And as a woman of color, every right swipe is overshadowed by this fact.