Photo Credit: Deposit Photos
by Catherine Saunders
The new dating app MELD, designed specifically for single black professionals, was created by Raissa Tona and Wale Ayeni during their time at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. MELD strives to provide young, successful black people a way to connect with other young, successful black people, as it can often be hard for ambitious individuals to find love.
As a young black professional myself, I was initially intrigued at the opportunity to support my peers, and potentially connect with possible suitors whom I share interests with. MELD offers a safe space for members of the black community to meet each other. On mainstream dating sites, Black people are often ignored and seen as undesirable by other races; not to mention the fact that black professionals are often labeled as “bougie” or “unapproachable” by our own. Thus, my attraction to MELD was largely based on the relief of not having to be less of myself to attract a mate.
Upon searching for potential connections, I noticed most of the men don suits in their profile pictures. I thought this was interesting: the men of MELD want to showcase their professional status, actively working against the “thug” stereotype society often places on black men.
What I did not like is that the interests and aspirations of daters are absent from the site entirely, limiting the casual swiper to aesthetics and job titles. MELD’s omission of personality and background information from users’ profiles undermines the advancement of the online dating experience. Thus, the limitations of the site make hook-ups and other casual scenarios, much more likely than long term relationships.
Despite the premise of being a platform for the white collar black dater, prospects look very similar after a few swipes. Many of the male members are are almost too similar, offering little to no diversity to a black female professional’s quest for love. Most of the prospects are the grown up version of boys our mothers told us would make “good boyfriends/husbands” and were “the ones to watch.” While this certainly does not make them bad selections, it is a little disappointing to only see one kind of fish in the sea.
I also did not like MELD’s obvious omission of a screening process. Upon first logging into the site, I was presented with the profile of a white man. While my outrage wasn’t sparked from his whiteness, it did stem from the dissonance his presence created, given the circumstances. To make matter worse, this suitor posted a picture of himself in African garb. This picture not only mimicked the culture he invaded, but dismantled any argument regarding confusion of the site’s intentions.
The decision to find love online subjects an individual to the confines of a site creator’s imagination. I applaud Tona and Ayeni’s for their invention that aims to connect Black professionals and encourage black love. But as a user of the app, the experience falls short by its reliance on surface-level interactions based on photos and job titles—none of which speak to who an individual really is. Thus, MELD was not a match for me.
Catherine is a adjunct instructor and the perspective behind the pen on whispersofawomanist.com