A billboard showing a beaming Caucasian woman with a smiling Caucasian man with his arms wrapped around her from behind against a romantic pink-fade-to-purple background would likely have gone unnoticed by Utah freeway drivers as an advertisement any other online dating website—except this one was called WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com.
And no, it doesn’t appear to be part of an expensive practical joke or hoax to troll white supremacists.
WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com is a real dating website that has racked up nearly 2,000 users from five in a matter of days, according to the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate.
But the billboard has arguably done more to generate controversy, cracks, and confusion than users.
Many will argue that a dating site devoted to racial preferences is implicitly racist. Although there are ample dating sites devoted to helping people seeking racial, religious, ethnic, and other groups, a site devoted to a preference for whites rubbed people the wrong way.
Even though the dating site’s founder, Sam Russell, adamantly denied a racist objective to WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com, it’s not difficult to see how it could become a hotbed for white nationalists or, conversely, those who enjoy trolling them.
When asked by The Daily Beast if he thought WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com was racist, Russell responded, “We’re the farthest thing from it.”
He stressed that anyone 18 and over can join and was absolutely not opposed to interracial relationships. “That’s [interracial relationships] fine!,” he said. “It’s [called] WhereWhitePeopleMeet. If you’re black, Asian, or Hispanic, and prefer white that’s great.”
What is less clear is how open WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com may be to same-sex couples.
As RT noted, “Although the site says it accepts all races, this doesn’t apply to gay people.” Perhaps, homophobia, not racism, may be the bigger concern for WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com.
Russell denied any discrimination against those seeking same-sex relationships. “People attracted to the same sex can join. We don’t discriminate against anyone. At this point, we’re not promoting same-sex relationships. I personally don’t have an issue, but we’re not promoting it at this time.
“If you’re gay or lesbian and want to put that on your profile and hope you find people who like the same things you’re into, I think that’s great.”
But when The Daily Beast asked how someone seeking a same-sex relationship on WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com could logistically search for dates, Russell admitted that “In reality, it’s probably not easy, but at the same time there are hundreds of dating websites for people to go to for whatever it is they want. It may not be a site for them [gay men and lesbians], and I get it. That’s OK. That’s their choice.”
Except it isn’t—it’s Russell’s choice not to include LGBTs in the way he conceived the site.
Russell stressed that WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com is all about providing options.
The 53-year-old from Utah runs a car dealership as his prime job, but decided to create WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com when he was home sick watching daytime television with his wife, Jodi, and noticed a slew of advertisements for race- and religion-specific websites.
Russell said, “BlackPeopleMeet.com, LDSSingles.com, FarmersOnly.com. We were bombarded, and I turned to her said, ‘Why is there not a WhereWhitePeopleOnlyMeet.com?’ She agreed. We let it roll in our brains, and here we are. Five months later, there’s a site.”
This is actually a second marriage for the couple, though Russell said he never tried online dating. His 18-year-old son helped him engineer the site, he said, though he didn’t consider WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com to have officially launched until their eye-catching and somewhat controversial billboard was posted Dec. 29 on State Route 201, between 5600 West and 7200 South in West Valley City, according to the local Fox affiliate’s website.
The dating site’s title coupled with the image of the perfect gleaming, white, heterosexual twosome raised some eyebrows.
A National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) spokeswoman, Jeanette Williams. told the local Fox she did not find the site “hostile to people of color.”
However, she also “thought it was strange that they would put this Billboard up in Utah, especially with such a large White population and the high cost of Billboards.
“I was surprised when they would put up billboards here so you can meet other white singles because every day you can meet white singles, apart from being perplexed by the need for a service to meet white people in a state that—according to 2014 census estimates—is more than 91 percent white.”
Russell said he was prepared for WhereWhitePeopleMeet.com to face accusations of racism.
“We didn’t do this [dating site] because we’re racist. We did it because: one) we thought it was a great business concept, and two) we have a right to, and we want people to understand everyone has rights. If there can be a BlackPeopleMeet site, there can be a WhereWhitePeopleMeet site.”