What is Smoochr?
Before yesterday, I would have guessed it was one of the aliases Ted Cruz uses when he trolls Craigslist to respond to Missed Connections. Now, however, I know it's the name of a dating site targeted towards Black people.
Ok. I guess the world can use more dating sites. Although it seems like there are more dating sites and apps now than actual people actually dating. But why is it in the news today? What makes Smoochr special?
Smoochr is special because it allows you to distinguish between, vet, and choose potential dates based on complexion and hair texture. For instance, if you're specifically into "thick redbones with good hair" — so much so that you feel the need to filter everyone else out — and you weren't invited to a Knowles family gathering, Smoochr is the site for you.
Basically, if Tariq Nasheed had a baby with Stacey Dash, and that baby was wrapped in old KING Magazine centerfolds instead of a blanket when it was brought home, Smoochr would be that baby.
How has the reception been?
Exactly how you'd anticipate it being. Blavity's Tyler Young called it a digital paper bag test. At The Root, Yesha "Call Me Eye-esha" Callahan questioned if we were being trolled and also referenced tech developer Elen Awalom's #shutdownsmoochr campaign.
The pushback exists for reasons obvious to anyone with any awareness of colorism in a historical context and its still resonate and panoramic impact on Black America. Rosa Parks didn't free the slaves so colorstruck millennials could treat relationships like they're ordering Raspberry Vanilla Fanta from a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.
"Yeah, lemme take a large popcorn with extra butter, a pretzel with cheese, and one caramel latte complected Delta with half a freckle on each dimple, Angela Nissel's hair from the cover of Mixed, and Rachel Dolezal's disposition. To go, please."
How do you personally feel about Smoochr?
Oh, I think it's a great thing and I hope it does well.
You didn't understand what I said?
I understood perfectly. I'm just in disbelief. You are aware of the colorism issues you referenced like 50 words ago, right?
And how a dating site like this uses that history and that context and the latent insecurities and self-loathings cultivated by that history and that context to exacerbate those issues and make a profit from them?
Yes. Yes I am.
So how can you possibly believe that it existing is a good thing?
Playing pick-up basketball is still one of my favorite things to do. Particularly when playing with a group of guys who know how to play. Because playing basketball with guys who don't know how to play is one of my least favorite things to do.
And while I enjoy playing with guys whose games I already know, I do also occasionally seek out pick-up games at new courts and gyms with guys unfamiliar to me. And while this has some benefits, a draw back is not knowing who can and can't play before the game starts.
So I use clues to help me make a pre-judgement. Basically, I profile.
And one of the best indicators of how good a random pick-up basketball player actually is how they're dressed. If he's dressed like a mannequin at Dick's Sporting Goods — an NBA game jersey with matching headbands, wristbands, socks, and shoes — he probably sucks. If he's playing with no shirt, like he's Morris Chestnut or Taye Diggs in a late 90s Black movie, he probably sucks. And if the shoes he's wearing are not basketball-appropriate shoes, he probably sucks. And he might actually shank you if you foul him.
Ok…how does any of this connect to Smoochr?
When driving up to a new court, I can take one look at the people playing and decide whether they're worth my time. Which gives me more time to leave and find a better group of guys to play with. And allows the dudes who suck to keep sucking together. And I can do this without ever actually seeing them play. Smoochr can do the same thing to Black dating culture.
Instead of allowing all the people wish to treat their dating lives like a deleted scene from The Imitation of Life to spread out, Smoochr can curate and collect them all in one place. Because, let's face it. The only people who'd sign up for something like this are…the type of people who'd sign up for something like this. This isn't going to "divide" Black people any more than a piece of ham divides two slices of bread. It'll just gather all the Black people already interested in that type of division.
Also, to be honest, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with distilling your dating preferences down to such superficial specifics. I wouldn't do it, but if that's what they want, fine! And now they can have their own cookouts instead of coming to mine!