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On the subject of race in the Washington Post Magazine‘s Date Lab, a former Date Labber weighs in with some insight into some behind-the-scenes engineering on the subject of skin-color (I’ve edited the remarks slightly for clarity):

As a past date lab participant, I want to vomit every time this beaten to death subject arises. Luckily none of the above mentions my particular article, but I have to chime in. As with any reporting, as I’m sure Ms. Hess knows, the interview process which took about an hour and a half over two days was boiled down to about 45 seconds worth of quotes pieced together to make an ‘interesting’ story.

Most questions are fairly run of the mill to try to get a dialogue going (what did you do before the date? How did you feel about blah blah blah), but a fair number were very specific and in hindsight an attempt to lead the interviewees toward a particular topic. I recall being told that a certain application question answer was used to set us up, and was asked if I was happy with the looks and race of the date since they thought he would be ‘my type’ . . . then the interviewer linked my response to this question to a totally separate one in which she asked me to describe in detail what my date looked like physically ‘because she hadn’t seen photos yet.’

Yes, obviously in retrospect after reading the final product I should have foreseen this, but at the same time it’s kind of ridiculous of readers to take these stories as truth and divine prejudice/racism/whatever. Maybe, City Paper, if this is newsworthy, you should create a better date lab type column? Or highlight something actually new and different for a change?

Interesting. Any eager applicants for the Washington City Paper‘s Race Lab?