*A billboard in Utah promoting the new dating site WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com has not only turned heads in the state, but raised eyebrows on social media since news of it went viral over the holiday weekend.
The Washington Post caught up with its founder Sam Russell, who explains that his concept is no different than any other dating site that caters to a particular race or religion.
“It’s about equal opportunity,” Russell explained. “The last thing in the world I am is racist. I dated a black woman once. I helped raise a young black man … I just believe it’s hypocrisy to say ‘one group can do this, but another can’t.’”
He is of course referring to the dating site Black People Meet, ads for which he saw repeatedly one day while home sick from work.
He and his wife Jodie, who technically owns the dating site, became convinced both that online dating was a good pre-retirement business move, and that white people had a hard time meeting likeminded folks on such traditional dating sites as eHarmony, Match.com and OKCupid.
The couple purchased the domain “wherewhitepeoplemeet.com” in May 2015 and hired their son, a high school senior, to design it. The site officially launched last weekend when Russell unveiled the controversial billboard southwest of Salt Lake City.
Russell insists, however, that folks of any race may join, as long as they’re over 18. “If you’re a black man who prefers to date white women, this might be a good option,” he said.
It costs $15 a month to message other members, and the site’s terms of service specifically prohibit messages that “promote racism, bigotry, [or] hatred.”
“The site is not racially motivated in any way,” Russell stressed.
Washington Post writer Caitlin Dewey continues:
I ask Russell if he’s at all aware or concerned that white people already had the upper hand in online dating.
“It’s our right to have this business,” he replied — the “we” presumably referring to white people, generally. “If we want equal rights in this country, it has to be equal rights for everybody.”
Russell points to his site’s recent traffic as evidence that others agree: More than 100,000 people visited White People Meet on Sunday, and — as of this writing — 1,033 people have registered to browse the site for free. (Russell would not share how many had actually become paying members.) He insists that the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive thus far; it’s the people criticizing him, he says, who don’t truly understand the true nature of race and racism.
“I knew there was some potential for backlash, but I’m not going to dodge it,” he said. “No one who knows me would ever call me a racist.”