Essay: Racial Profiling

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English 1100: Introduction to University Writing (S27)

Duncan Greenlaw

23 March 2018

“Racial Profiling”: Examining Implications and Solutions of Racial Profiling in the American Society

Racial profiling is one of the most debatable and critical acts which limits the practice of human rights. “The world is at the post-racial era, and there is need to find a long-lasting solution to the issue” (Nakamura & Peter 5). The most important part in problem-solving is finding out the root cause and carrying out an analysis of its validity. Some people argue that racial profiling is acceptable. The liberty enjoyed in some places and locations of the world, especially the United States of America, has a vast and dynamic history where people had to lose their lives for the course of achieving equality and fair treatment. The articles above agree that law enforcement applies to whole humanity governed by boundaries of practice and that no one person is above the law. It is backed by evidence that some officers judge people based on their color, language, and nationality. Similarly, in the cases of judgment, complications such as negative ethnicity arise. African Americans are arrested more in numbers than any other community. A black person is ten times more likely to be falsely convicted than a white American. Negative ethnicity gives rise to the demonstration, low self-esteem, and low economic development. People should be allowed to enjoy their freedom. “Arizona 1070 serves as one of the toughest law which promotes ethnicity” (Melone & Schmidt 21). In the law, the government intended to limit illegal immigrants. The law involved searches and document verification and identification. The law enforcement officers identify blacks and Arabians more than the whites. The stops along the streets are intimidating and bring about segregation in the society since each race will like to identify with the group which can offer them an opportunity to showcase their skills and self-confidence.

The main aim of the paper will be to focus on sources of racial profiling and find solutions to the instances identified. Racial profiling interferes with the process of justice execution. Firstly, I will “investigate the instances and problems it caused to the society” (Shmool et al. 146). Secondly, on the solution part, I will integrate recommendations to the problem and some practical examples which the recommendations fit the most. Lastly, I will conclude with general details on the cases of racial profiling of Latino and Black Americans, the implications of this, and suggestions on the process of finding a solution. The factors of consideration include national security concerns, human rights, and laws. I will argue that racial profiling violates human rights, how they arise and specify paths to resolving the issues.

Over time, Police have been accused of promoting racial profiling as evident in the way they handle different suspects. “They have been blamed for deadly and excessive use of force as a result of racial bias” (Dunn 959). “For instance, a minor by the name Rice, twelve years old, was shot dead by police while playing with a toy gun after the police mistook it for a real gun” (Dunn 958). “Studies indicate that among security forces and police, racial profiling is incalculably popular, both outside and in the U.S” (Pundik 176). The boy mentioned above is just a statistic among many other cases where the victims are primarily black, with the officers being mostly white. Some forces have used the subject arguably to maximize scarce resource effectiveness to control crimes and also prevent terrorism. According to Smith and Mason (75), “racial profiling started in the 1980s and 1990s with the war on drugs, mostly targeting some minority-inhabited districts in the U.S., the profiling was majorly used towards the late 1990s as the primary factor for making decisions of frisking and stopping”. Some of the American communities most affected by this problem include the Asians, African Americans, South Asians, Muslims and the Arabs. In the recent past, the law enforcers have been accused of executing their roles based on racial bias, denying the citizens their rightful freedoms as enjoyed by the majority communities. Although as stated above, that racial profiling started with the war on drugs, it has proved to be a biased approach towards the apprehension of criminal activities hence should be done away with.

One of the main objection to the abolition of racial profiling is the sustained lack of will and ability for the government of the United States to draft and pass legislation which prohibits profiling with a binding effect on all law enforcement agencies. “The constitution of the U.S has been in general construed by courts as indifferent to, or permissive of racial profiling” (Glaser 169). Counterterrorism has also been found to include racial profiling. Furthermore, some government policies have been accused of continuously contributing immensely to the prevalence of profiling regarding race and ethnicity. These policies seem to be race-neutral but apparently inexplicably restrict freedoms and rights people of color. Challenging these policies is difficult and indicating their discriminatory nature to the policymakers and public is difficult. The federal governments have continually encouraged unprecedented raids of the minority communities, for instance, the Latinos in particular. The local law enforcement has also cooperated with federal agencies to raid immigrant communities’ workplaces. Evidently, there are often relatively high law enforcement concentrations in minority communities, which has impacted minority over-representation in the American criminal justice system. The government has been accused of relenting in making legally binding policies regarding the violation of people rights and freedoms, especially against racial profiling. It should thus take it upon themselves to guarantee its citizens of an equal treatment by law enforcers, with consequences for lack of complying.

Another policy meant to control racial profiling is the Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies 2003, under the Department of Justice. The policy is intended to ban federal law enforcers from racial profiling. The exceptions in the above-stated guidance promote profiling and significantly justify racial profiling by local and state law enforcers towards people appearing to be Arabs, Muslims or South Asians. That the guidance is neither adequate nor effective as it doesn’t discuss profiling in regard to religious affiliation, national origin or religion. “Some studies indicate that racial profiling cannot effectively assist in apprehending suspects due to its foundation on racial differences in lawbreaking” (Banks 572). The policy lacks any enforcement mechanisms nor specified punishment for violation, with an exception for border integrity and national security. As a result, the exceptions end up promoting the opposite, instead of restricting the racial profiling. On top of the loopholes above, the guidance only serves as an advisory and lacks any legal binding to the parties involved. The introduction of this guidance and lack of a requirement for legal proof into a suspected criminal activity has led to a disproportionate victimization of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians in the U.S the victimization is exercised via various government-related initiatives which include border stops, religious surveillance, FBI surveillance, FBI questioning, the NSEERS program, airline profiling as well as the making of the no-fly list. Hence, this kind of profiling has significantly contributed to the prevalent mistreatments and investigations of innocent members of the minority groups.

The formal sources of profiling can be traced back to drug courier and hijacker profiles which are developed by the national law enforcers and distributed to the local and state agencies. However, modern racial profiling is mostly because of an informal cause. “The cause is stereotyping which is a psychological process” (Glaser 98). Stereotypes are those beliefs regarding the characters of certain social categories as defined by race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, among others. As a result, a different modern form of stereotypes emerges the race-crime stereotype. This trait has been attributed to most of the currently experienced racial profiling. It is important to understand that although stereotypes are a form of universal normal human cognition, it can contribute to detrimental and prejudiced decisions and judgements. Implicit bias is one cause of racial profiling and this refers to the prejudices and stereotypes existing and operating in human beings’ minds without conscious awareness. The association of Blacks with the crime is a usually held stereotype. As much as most people might deny the stereotype, it is very prevalent among the whites and this should not be the case if everyone has to uphold democracy and citizen freedom and rights equally.

When the law enforcers have to determine suspects in order to warrant investigations, they function under some uncertainty. That when making decisions in uncertainty, we are inclined to use cognitive shortcuts. Consequently, stops of the minority groups have been less productive relative to those of whites. “9 out of the documented 10 fatal shootings of police who are off duty by the on-duty counterparts were black or Latino, in the last 30 years” (Glaser 126). The statistic is worrying because American minorities only make up about a quarter of the American police officers. Hence, the efforts to just stop this kind of profiling are inadequate. Studies have argued that racial profiling has the potential of increasing crime rates.

“Another cause for the sustained racial profiling is asset forfeiture” (Jim & Matthew 177). Laws exist in the U.S that allow the police to seize properties of drug dealing suspects. One of such laws is the Comprehensive Crime Act of 1984 that permitted the police cooperating in drug investigations to keep a bulk of the seized property. In states where the police are not allowed to own the property, they are permitted to adopt the same. The large amounts of money and valuable assets is a significant incentive to the efforts of law enforcers to discover crimes related to drugs. Hence, the police use this opportunity to identify minority groups somehow more likely to commit such crimes of drugs. When these groups lack some substantial political power, the police might focus on them, aiming at enhancing their departmental income from such forfeited property.

Further, some studies have reported that racial profiling might not look as it is. That the complaints are just exaggerations of the minority groups who are hypersensitive. They have also indicated that the disproportionate police searches and stops of the African Americans can be defined as a necessary form of modern means to fight crime, rather than racial profiling. “The racial stereotyping has also been discussed as being prevalent in the U.S culture” (Welch 277). However, it would be unfair to state that racial profiling is an exaggeration of the minorities as there has been a substantial evidence of the same, especially with the law enforcers. It also cannot make it right to treat citizens differently and argue that racial profiling fights crime. Even if it was an effective way to deal with crime, its potential impacts, which have been earlier discussed, necessitate its abandoning.

Racial profiling is an issue which has to be solved right from the government and every citizen if democracy is anything to go by. The war on racial profiling will require being addressed from its causes, the roots. For instance, there need to be policy reforms from the policy makers side/ like for example, the laws on drugs which encourage law enforcement agencies to consider members from particular communities as potential criminals should be reviewed for equality. That these agencies should be redirected so that when they are solving certain known crimes, they should use the available evidence at that time, regarding the crime, but not the previously mentioned cognitive shortcuts.

At the same time, efforts to curb racial profiling should be made cautiously lest they create more problems to the already problematic situation. “Some laws recently designed to end this kind of profiling have become significant obstacles for the police conducting investigations into serious crimes” (Banks 598). Hence the need to solve the issue from the cause, so as to end up with a citizenry enjoying democracy and also security because most of the racial profiling is done with a goal of provision of safety and security. That policy-makers should discourage efforts to scrabble away and also abolish racial profiling in drug outlawing. Racial profiling should be strongly discouraged and stopped because it obstructs human freedom. According to Pundik (204), “there is a strong linkage between racial profiling and human freedom, which is fundamental in the criminal process”. Minority groups should not be selectively targeted when it comes to enhanced security checks. Some of these activities, for instance, stigmatize innocent citizens, like the guiltless Muslims who are most of the times seen as terrorists.

Similarly, the law enforcement agencies should not exercise disproportionate surveillance, ticketing or stopping of specific minority motorists of the community. Such cases were observed and discussed in a particular study relating drivers under suspension. The police misuse the Patriot Act to investigate targeted citizens without them knowing. The police operate under stereotypical rationale in their endeavors to detect, predict and also apprehend criminal activities. “The previously mentioned stereotypic reasoning disproportionately links the minorities to crime and this has an incongruent impact on the African Americans” (Dunn 992). Every law enforcement officer should, therefore, uphold citizen freedom through avoiding racial profiling as provided under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections counter to unreasonable seizure and search. Police investigatory stops should also be reformed. Research has found that there exist vast unjust disparities in the stops. They cheer the expression of powerful and deeply entrenched negative stereotypes of brown and black Americans, encouraging racial divide and inequality. “The practice has significantly reduced public support and trust for the police hence being counterproductive, calling for factual institutional reforms” (Epp, Maynard-Moody and Haider-Markel 176).

Lastly, if racial profiling has to be stopped, its root causes must be addressed. These include laws on drugs encouraging the police to look at some citizens as possible criminals. Again, law enforcement must be redirected towards the solution of known and specific crimes with the use of the available evidence about the case. It is also clear that the state of seizure laws in the U.S is inexcusable, despite the slight federal reforms. This is so especially in the country, where suspects in other crimes are assumed until proven guilty but those with cash are directly seen as drug traffickers.

Racial profiling has a substantial limitation to human rights and fundamental freedom. This article has established that it is prevalent among the law enforcement agencies. Some people have looked at it as if solving the drug trafficking menace, although studies have not found any connection between the two. Besides the control of drugs, other agencies have used racial profiling in their efforts to control crimes and terrorism. The government has been accused of reluctantly dealing with the issue, as evident in some discussed incomprehensive regulations and policies. Some of the recommended measures to get rid of racial profiling include getting rid of racial profiling include careful policy reforms as solving the root cause, an equal exercise of law on the citizens, and reforms in the investigatory stops, among others. Unless keen interest is focused on addressing the issues, the U.S and the world at large stares at a forthcoming human crisis as a result of a widened racial gap and animosity between people of different racial groups.

Works Cited

Banks, R. Richard. “Beyond Profiling: Race, Policing, and the Drug War.” Stanford Law Review, vol. 56, no. 3, Dec. 2003, p. 571. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=12068306&login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Dunn, Ronnie A. “Racial Profiling: A Persistent Civil Rights Challenge Even in the Twenty-First Century.” Case Western Reserve Law Review, vol. 66, no. 4, Summer2016, pp. 957-992. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=115914028&login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Melone, Frank, et al. “Arizona 1070: Straw-Man Law Enforcement.” Harvard Latino Law Review, vol. 14, Spring2011, pp. 23-34. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=64493920&login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Klein, Lauren Frederica. “American Studies After the Internet.” American Quarterly, vol. 64, no. 4, Dec. 2012, pp. 861-872. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=84520188&login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Pundik, Amit. “Against Racial Profiling.” University of Toronto Law Journal, vol. 67, no. 2, Spring2017, pp. 175-205. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3138/UTLJ.3883.

Ruiz, Jim and Matthew Woessner. “Profiling, Cajun Style: Racial and Demographic Profiling in Louisiana’s War on Drugs.” International Journal of Police Science & Management, vol. 8, no. 3, Sept. 2006, pp. 176-197. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1350/ijps.2006.8.3.176.

Shmool, Jessie, et al. “Identifying Perceived Neighborhood Stressors across Diverse Communities in New York City.” American Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 56, no. 1/2, Sept. 2015, pp. 145-155. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10464-015-9736-9.

Welch, Kelly. “Black Criminal Stereotypes and Racial Profiling.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, vol. 23, no. 3, Aug. 2007, pp. 276-288. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.kpu.ca:2443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=26477965&login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Epp, Charles R., Stephen Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Markel. “Beyond Profiling: The Institutional Sources of Racial Disparities in Policing.” Public Administration Review 77. 2 (2017): 168-178.

Glaser, Jack. Suspect race: Causes and consequences of racial profiling. Oxford University Press, USA, 2014

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