11 Black-Made Apps: On The Emergence of Black/POC-Oriented Digital Spaces

Image of laptop, glasses and comic books

By Taylor Steele

In January 2016, the founder of the controversial dating site “Where White People Meet” put up a billboard advertisement in Utah. Soon thereafter, I found myself in a Twitter conversation about the false double standard regarding Black-only dating sites. A white woman couldn't see how the two exclusionary sites differed from each other; that, if the former was racist, the latter had to be as well. I, along with several other Twitter-ers, explained that because whiteness and white love is considered the default, because white people can be found literally everywhere, sites like WWPM are inherently racist. Their exclusion of an already marginalized community — a community whiteness does not have to encounter unless they choose to, whereas, blackness always has to negotiate itself in white spaces — is inherently racist. Apps like The One help provide safer spaces for people of color to connect, spaces where it is far less likely to be subjected to racist messages and ignorant questions — all of which I have encountered on my own online dating adventures.

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in apps and sites dedicated to Black people, focusing on their interests and their needs. The reason being, Black people don't just face racism in real life — on the street, at work, at school, in banks, in relationships — we also face it online and in digital spaces. From being told we can’t stay at Airbnb listings by racist homeowners, to being silenced or harassed on forums meant for people to indulge in their particular interests, people of color are treated like invaders.

To meet these needs, more and more people of color in technology are creating startups and apps specifically for us. Here are 11 Black/non-white apps people can look to for resources, fun, and inspiration.




Dating for Black Professionals

If you’re a Black professional looking for a committed, long-term relationship, you’ll fit right in at Meld. This app was made for those who work long hours and don’t feel they have the time to meet people outside of work. Though, because it uses information from both one’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, some have hailed Meld as a bougie Tinder because users can swipe left or right on a profile based on someone’s looks and job title.



Meet. Chat. Date.

Bae, or Before Anyone Else, was created by 3 millennial dudesBae with fellow millennials in mind. The equivalent of Black Tinder, Bae lets you swipe based on someone’s picture and extremely limited profile — simply a pulling of basic information from one’s Facebook account. There is virtually no difference between it and Tinder (in my own experience) except for the fact that its users are, for the most part, Black. It’s also behind the times in terms of gender options: you choose if you’re a woman or a man and whether you’re looking for a woman, a man, or both.



Where queer people of all genders date.

On the other end of the lack of options for queer folx, Thurst seeks to build a more inclusive space for people to meet. In fact, it is the “first dating app for queer and LGBTQ people of all genders.” With a particular focus on trans* POC, Thurst’s aim is to create as safe a space as possible for (gender)queer people to be their truest selves, knowing that the world outside of this app is rarely  a safe one for them.


Noir BnB

Welcome home

If you've got insatiable wanderlust and a desire to feel at home in faraway places, Noir BnB is where it's at. Though made with the intention to have Black hosts and guests, anyone who is willing to open their homes to others regardless of race (so, basically, decent human beings) is free to sign up. They are still in the process of launching their site with all the necessary bells and whistles, so you can’t use it to book rooms, yet. But, if you're interested in becoming a host, you can sign up today!


Black Nerd Problems

Website dedicated to and from the perspective of Blerds

From Top 10 must-watch anime countdowns, to Marvel vs. DC showdowns and refreshingly/hilariously/bitingly trill TV show recaps, BNP is your one-stop shop for all things unapologetically blerd. They don’t shy away from speaking in AAVE and fandom colloquialisms, or critically examining anti-blackness in fantasy worlds and the backlash Black actors receive when they’re cast in what some understood to be White roles. Everything they write and produce (they also have incredibly witty short skits for your viewing pleasure) very obviously comes from a place of love and wonder.


Cocoa Swatches

It's annoyingly difficult to find makeup that fits the many shades of blackness. Whether that be the right color foundation or eyeshadow that compliments your complexion, Cocoa Swatches makes shopping for makeup easier by posting pictures and testimonials of Black women testing different beauty products. They make being (or becoming) a beauty expert a viable option for non-white makeup-wearers.



Merit-based Matching

There’s been research that suggests that employers will pass over resumes with gendered/Black-sounding names when looking for new-hires. To combat that issue, Blendoor hides applicants’ names and photos to help ensure a less biased selection process. With no other identifiers to cloud an employer’s judgement, your qualifications and employment history become the only reason you might or might not get hired.


We Read Too

Looking for books written by people of color or, at least, books with protagonists of color? We Read Too can help you find what you’re searching for. This app challenges the cis-white (often male) default narratives that exist in abundance. With features to search by genre, author, or title, We Read Too creates a single, centralized digital resource center. This app is particularly useful when looking for books for children, so they don’t have to grow up without seeing a mirror in the art and media they consume.


On Second Thought

Ever sent a text and almost immediately wished you hadn’t? Of course, we all have. On Second Thought puts you back in control by allowing you a 60-second grace period after you’ve sent a text to, well, un-send it. It was aptly christened the “drunk text savior.” On Second Thought also has a “curfew” setting; if you’re going out drinking and know that you shouldn’t be texting after 1am, you can set up the app so that it bans you from texting until 1:01am. That way, you can avoid having to take back any texts at all.


Black Founders

Programs and events for startup entrepreneurs

Looking to become an entrepreneur in the tech world? By sharing their access to angel donors, tech professionals, as well as creating educational and networking events like national conferences and hack-a-thons, Black Founders sole purpose is to help budding Black innovators. After the constant witnessing of the lack of Black entrepreneurs in the engineering and technology spheres, 4 Black organizers decided to dedicate their time and resources to ensure the success of more Black business-owners.


Taylor Steele is a Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based writer and performer. Her work can be found at such esteemed publications as Apogee Journal, HEArt Journal, Rogue Agent, Blackberry Magazine, and many others. Her chapbook Dirty.Mouth.Kiss will be available Fall 2016 on Pizza Pi Press. Taylor is a content writer for The Body is Not an Apology, Drunken Boat Journal, and Philadelphia Printworks. She is an internationally ranked spoken word artist, but, more importantly, she is a triple-Taurus. If you'd like to support Taylor's writing please consider making a donation via cash.me/$Steelewriter.

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