Dear 100 Hour Board,
Is it more tough for minority guys to get dates at BYU? I've had this conversation with two friends who are struggling similarly as I (one black, one Asian), and we reached the conclusion that girls in Provo (and people in general) want to date the type of people they spend enough time around to develop interest in (or the type of people they have been around). Therefore, BYU girls will date guys who are like the guys they've been interested in or been around before. And it's not an issue of racism because I think most students here were raised well and are Christlike enough not to be racist. But, BYU is predominantly white demographically, and interracial dating sometimes presents unwanted culture clashes, so is it logical to suppose that might be a reason why dating is so challenging to my friends and I? Girls say I'm a nice guy, but I feel like because I'm black (I'm not playing the race card), girls also expect me to be funny and entertaining, so there's pressure to follow the stereotype. And even when I am, it only leads to being friendzoned. So not only does it make me think girls only talk to me just for a good laugh, but it makes me wonder what it takes to get them to take me seriously. Advice?
-Not Another Black Comedian
So I'm not a student at BYU anymore, therefore maybe I'm not the ideal person to answer your question. My dating experience at BYU was limited as well, but my boyfriend is black, so I thought I might have a unique perspective to add.
As a white girl, I do think there is something to be said for wanting to marry someone of a similar culture as you, but I don't that necessarily has to be racially based. Someday I want to marry someone who understands my background, and it's easier to understand something that you're familiar with, but different races do not necessarily signify different backgrounds.
However, I do feel as though Provo is more particular about appearances than other places that I've lived, so I could see how dating someone of another race could give a person pause. Dating a black guy in Florida, I've never given it a second thought. But somehow the idea of dating a black guy in Provo feels different, because it seems like other people would be more judgmental about it. That wouldn't have stopped me from dating a black man if I had been interested in one, but it would have been a slight concern, because I'm not someone who wants to draw attention to myself. I can't say whether that perspective applies to anyone else in Provo, but the rather judgmental atmosphere there could be playing a factor in your lack of dating success.
But honestly I think dating in Provo is hard for everyone, regardless of race. I had never even heard the stereotype that black men are supposed to be entertaining, or that they aren't taken seriously until this question, so maybe it isn't as prevalent an opinion as you think. And unfortunately, being friendzoned happens to everyone, so I don't think that phenomenon can be attributed to racial differences either. I think it's definitely possible that some women would be hesitant to date or marry you based on race, explicitly or implicitly, but I don't think it's a widespread enough prejudice to account for all the women in Provo or at BYU.
As far as dating advice goes, my best advice is to date often, and with a wide variety of girls. There's little point in pining over women who aren't interested in you, no matter what the reason is. You can't do anything about your race, or really anything to change the perspective of anyone who wouldn't date you because of it. So instead of worrying about past failures, focus on how you can attain future success. Maybe BYU won't be the place you find a serious girlfriend or eternal spouse, but it can be a great place to pinpoint qualities that are important to you in a relationship.
For what it's worth, race hasn't been a factor in my current relationship. There isn't any difference in our background that gives me any hesitance to seek a relationship with him. I don't have any expectations that differ because he's black, and I don't think he feels at all uncomfortable because I'm white. Maybe that's because Florida is a much more diverse place than Provo, so there is less of a stigma attached to interracial relationships. But don't feel too discouraged--I definitely think you can have dating success at BYU, and that individual people are probably less judgmental than the prevailing culture might make them seem.
Yeah, all the things you said are super real. I don't know if you've ever taken Dr. Rugh's Race and Ethnic Relations class, which is quite fantastic, but you just summed up a good chunk of it.
The same principles are seen in diversity outreach programs: In this podcast, the host reveals the disparity between low-income high-potential students and high-achieving students; the chasm exists largely because of access to quality foundational education, and there's a corresponding white/non-white divide that adheres to the socioeconomic structure.
When a prestigious higher education institution tried to remedy this disparity, their research led them to conclude that "all of the low-income, high-potential pockets had been tapped" (I'm paraphrasing here but that's the gist). Malcolm Gladwell points out they just didn't know how, where, or when to tap.
In your case, I think it's less about girls wanting to date guys they've been around and more about them only being able to date guys they actually meet; their tapping strategies are limited. Both you and Luciana already mentioned this, but, for real; because of Provo's demographics and micro-geopolitics, it's hard to meet/befriend/date ethnic minorities — you've got to actively try. You'd have to be like my old roommate*, who was part of BSU, Salsa Club, Luau, and Fiesta. She always had brown guys vying for her affection, but that's also who she spent the most time around.
As far as your last point, I wonder if it's an exasperated version of an already-pretty-frustrating problem with dating in general. I'm not sure there is much advice I have except to keep being patient and persistent in your passions.
(And please excuse the obvious cheese involved in that mnemonic alliteration.)
Suerte, and you know where to find me if you want to talk more.
*She's Japaiian, so we accredited much of her good fortune in friends to that. But she also had a lot of white friends, because she's just great as a general person.