Asian dating in new
Last year, a billboard advertising a dating app for Asian-Americans called East Meet East went up in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Wasn't that exactly the kind of racial reduction that I'd spent my entire life working to avoid? awesome," one Taiwanese-American friend said, before she threw her head back laughing, interpreting the ads, instead, as in-jokes.East Meet East's headquarters is located near Bryant Park, in a sleek coworking office with white walls, lots of glass, and little clutter. A range of startups, from design agencies to burgeoning social media platforms share the space, and the relationships between members of the small staff are collegial and warm. In other words: less Chinese-Exclusion Act and more Stuff Asian People Like.I'd originally asked for a visit, because I wanted to know who was behind the "That's not Racist" billboard and why, but I quickly learned that the billboard was just one corner of a peculiar and inscrutable (at least to me) branding universe. I asked East Meet East's CEO Mariko Tokioka about the "That's not Racist" billboard and she and Kenji Yamazaki, her cofounder, explained that it was meant to be a response to their online critics, whom they described as non-Asians who call the app racist, for catering exclusively to Asians.The interface might have been one of any number of popular dating apps. I tapped on handsome faces and sent flirtatious messages and, for a few minutes, felt as though she and I could have been any other girlfriends taking a coffee break on a Monday afternoon, analyzing the faces and biographies of men, who just happened to appear Asian.I had been interested in dating more Asian-American men, in fact—?Then there's Shaadi for Indians, they have like, different classes for Indians. " She channelled her frustration into a business plan for a dating app that could showcase the diverse range of the Asian-American community, and perhaps do something to empower it. But on East Meet East, Asian men are able to feel as though " ' I can be the main character in this movie.' Once you are confident here, you are confident in other things, too," Yamazaki said.
(The service is free for women, $12 a month for men.) "Asians are underrepresented in this country—can you think of any brand that is huge for Asians? He paused and continued, smiling slyly: "Of course [people] can reject you for other reasons—maybe you make less money or whatever, your job is not good, at least you aren't rejected for your ethnicity." On the other hand, Asian women can perhaps can be assured, that they aren't being accepted solely of theirs.
—but East Meet East's mission to serve a unified Asian-America is especially tangled, given that the term "Asian-American" assumes unity amongst a minority group that covers a wide diversity of religions and ethnic backgrounds.
As if to underscore just how contradictory a belief in an Asian-American monolith is, South Asians are glaringly absent from the app's branding and advertisements, despite the fact that, well, they're Asian, too.
If you are ethnically Chinese and looking for other ethnic Chinese, there's Two Red Beans.
(Take a small half turn in the wrong direction, and there are dark places on the Internet like WASP Love, a website tagged with terms like "trump dating," "alt-right," "confederate," and "white nationalism.") All of these dating sites skirt around questions of identity—what does it mean to be "Jewish"?
I met the app's publicist, a beautiful Korean-American woman from California, for a coffee, earlier this year.