During student-led walking tours, talking with admissions staff, or just looking through Carleton’s brochure a phrase sticks out: Carls marry Carls. This phrase is used to explain the “phenomena” in which Carleton graduates, Carls, marry one another. For the prospective Carleton student, this may seem quirky, adding to Carleton’s charm, but I was confused on a number of levels. To begin where are the statistics showing me that a significant number of Carleton graduates have married one another. Who are these Carls? Where are they from? How did they meet? I have questions! Secondly, why are you advertising this irrelevant fact, to college-bound students who should be focusing on getting an education not finding their soulmate?
My third question is where do I find my Carl? As a woman of color at a predominately white institution, I often feel invisible, unable to fit my experiences into the typical Carleton narrative. I walk around with my head down, just trying to survive this place 10 weeks at a time. I must say 10 weeks feels like a lifetime when you’re struggling to be acknowledged by your peers. So dating here has been difficult, so say the least. I’m on Tinder, like every other Millennial, but Northfield has slim pickings. From the random townie that works at the Hideaway to the man whose profile is him holding a fish (aptly called “Man with fish” while swiping), or the Carleton student, my options are limited.
The data collected in the study conducted by OkCupid adds another level of analysis to this conversation. This study was designed to find how your race affects the messages you receive. They make a note “Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Essentially every race — including other blacks — singles them out for the cold shoulder.” Furthermore, they conclude that white men respond less, in overall trends than non-white guys. This information coupled with experiences of invisibility yet hyper-visibility as a female presenting, Black woman at a majority white institution. Living outside of the dominant narrative of beauty has allowed me some space to resist norms, but the weight of society is inescapable. Especially when even young girls are force feed image of unrealistic models which reinforces these ideologies. I don’t need to marry a Carl to be happy, after all marriage is an outdated institution. I just wish I could be seen like the rest you. A Carl with hope and dreams, just trying to make it out alive.
-OkCupid stats on “How your race affects the messages you get”