Profiling by race

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In culture today, racial profiling is a major problem. In certain instances, the police operate everyday as a regular pull over car drivers. This is typical for the drivers and drivers because the police have fair justification for upholding their obligations. The racial discrimination is one of the reasons why police might stop unreasonably (Birzer, 2013). Racial discrimination is the assessment of an individual on the basis of his race. Therefore, the police stop or check for nothing except that the driver is part of a specific ethnicity. Despite the fact that other races suffer racial profiling as well, it is African Americans who have been significantly affected by racial profiling. The US Supreme Court has maintained that racial profiling is wrong. However, it still happens in the law enforcement bodies. When one race is profiled, an assumption may be developed towards that particular race. For instance, the notion that the people from a specific race are more probable to commit a crime than those from the another race. Due to the continued practice of the vice, it has become one of the major social problems in American society. Racial profiling is wrong from a moral point of view as well as a legal standpoint. Therefore it is retrogressive in not only the fight against crime but also hinders the struggle of United States to become rich and diverse in culture.

How racial profiling started

Racial profiling in America dates back centuries and has been manifested recently reviewing the unfair conduct by the law enforcement bodies and criminal justice system in the 1700s against people of African descent (Skolnick, 2007). During the slavery period around 1704, the first slave patrol was founded whose primary role was to guard black Slaves. Because of this reason, black people could not walk freely without passes which were used to show that they had permission from their masters. Those who had been liberated always had to have freedom papers (Skolnick, 2007). The black people faced interrogations during which they were harassed. Those who tried to run away were even killed. During this period, just like in the modern day, black people were subjected to discrimination by law enforcement, not because of their deeds but because of the skin color (Skolnick, 2007). Even today black individuals who are majorly affected by profiling are seen as major suspects of crimes such as possession of drugs. The similarity between now and over one fifty years ago when slavery ended is only the black skin which is associated with wrongdoing.

After slavery, in the 20th century, black men were forced to convict leasing in which they were compelled to work in plantations and private corporations. Laws referred to as black code was used to help control the black people who worked hard only to enrich the whites (Skolnick, 2007). However, in 1868 the 14th amendment was passed which gave the African-Americans full citizenship and protection of the law. Despite this, the vice of profiling black men did not stop. For instance, in 1982 a commission led by Ronald Reagan whose major role was to fight drugs majorly targeted the urban black neighborhoods.

In the recent years, due to the notion that black people are likely to commit crimes, motorists and pedestrians from the race are stopped and frisked (Behnke, 2017). Concepts like community policing have worsened the problem of racial profiling as officers spend much time in the neighborhoods for black individuals. Due to the ill notion about black people a police officer is likely to stop a pedestrian during community policing and search them for no reason (Birzer, 2013).

Another major cause of racial profiling is fear of terrorist attacks. Just like African Americans, Muslims and majorly Arabs have become a target by law enforcement bodies. The September 11th World Trade Center attack led to profiling of people with Muslim background which is being practiced up to date (Behnke, 2017). However, the U.S government has been very vocal denying the claims of profiling Muslims in spite of the discriminatory detention. A program named Operation Front Line was formed in 2004 to detect and fight it terrorism threats in the American soil. According to the data of suspects who have been brought under investigation, 80% have been Muslims with Arab descent (Behnke, 2017). According to Steven Richards, racial profiling of the Muslims have been based on the fact that Muslims have perpetrated almost all terrorist attacks.

Hispanics have also been victims of racial profiling which has been caused by the notion that they are illegal immigrants. The US Department of Immigration in partnership with the Homeland security abuse minority groups like the Hispanics through unreasonable stopping, detaining and questioning. An example of racial profiling against the Hispanics happened in the state of New Jersey in 2007 when immigration officers ignored the orders on which conditions to ask about immigration status and went ahead to interrogate many motorists and pedestrians of Hispanic origin (Behnke, 2017).

Current Policies to Overcome Racial Profiling

The government of United States has enacted laws and put in place policies which have to some extent helped to fight racial profiling. For instance the “End Racial profiling act of 2015” which opines that law enforcement agents or agencies should not involve themselves in racial profiling (Newberry, 2017). The act grants any person racially profiled entitlement to injunctive relief. The enactment also requires agencies to practice policies and procedures which eliminate the possibility of occurrence of racial profiling (Newberry, 2017). The states and organizations are also required to prove that they have maintained policies which encourage racial profiling. Such an enactment has helped reduce the cases of racial profiling since law enforcement bodies are being monitored on the matter.

The justice department ruled out the application of racial profiling in national security cases. Such a step has substantially reduced racial profiling since law enforcement officers cannot use the basis of religion or race to open a case (Behnke, 2017). Such a step will play a prominent role in ending racial profiling at present and future as well.

Recommendations to Suppress Racial profiling

Despite the fact that the government of United States has tried in fighting racial profiling, a lot still needs to be done. The national government should set up a secretariat to deal with issues of racial diversity (Dunn, 2016). Some of the roles which could be played by the department include:

provide reports of data about racial profiling to the government

assess to which extent has the recommendations of fighting racial profiling have been fulfilled

Supervise and initiate changes in the law enforcement bodies which can help to curb racial profiling

Sensitize the law enforcement agencies on the consequences of racial profiling

Encourage law enforcement agents to apply the law equally to all citizens.

It should be made clear to the law enforcement bodies that they should eliminate the vice of racial profiling right from their departments by ensuring that their officers are well informed.

Law enforcement officers who are found guilty of being involved in racial profiling should be punished. For instance, strict penalties such as dismissal from service should be put in place to ensure that officers who practice the vice are aware of the consequences.

Personal View on Racial Profiling

Racing profiling is one of the worst vices in any society. Despite the fact that officers who use racial profiling may offer their reasons, it is not morally acceptable in any society. Law enforcement bodies should, therefore, look for other means to spot criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants. Different scholars have offered significant literature on the social problem of profiling. According to the literature, there is no circumstance in which any form of racial profiling can be justified. Even the police note that racial profiling does more harm than good in the long run. Although most scholars argue against racial profiling, some have greatly supported it. Those who support racial profiling argue that it plays a major role in preventing crimes, helps the law enforcement bodies to arrest criminals easily, controls drug trafficking as well as preventing terrorist attacks. For instance, in the case of Whren et al. V. United States, it is because of the patrols in the “high drug area” to capture cocaine possessed by Whren (Dunn, 2016). Proponents of racial profiling will argue that it is because of the practice that he was arrested. In other cases such as terrorist attacks committed on 26 February, 1993 and 9/11 attacks in the world trade center could have been prevented through racial profiling. All the suspects in these attacks were Muslims of Arabic descent. Therefore, those who support profiling will argue that law enforcement bodies are right to profile people with such ancestry. Despite this, the benefits of racial profiling cannot outweigh the consequences. Therefore, it should never be practiced.


Racial profiling is still witnessed in the United States today. Despite the fact that the government must make sure that the country is safe, care must be taken in the processes of achieving this endeavor so that a section of citizens do not feel subjected. To avoid such crisis, the government should instigate changes right from the training of law enforcement officers since significant change can only be obtained through a change of mindset.


Behnke, A. (2017). Racial Profiling: Everyday Inequality. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.

Birzer, M. L. (2013). Racial Profiling: They Stopped Me Because I'm! Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Dunn, R. A. (2016). Racial Profiling: A Persistent Civil Rights Challenge Even in the Twenty-First Century. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 66(4), 957-992.

Newberry, J. L. (2017). Racial Profiling and the NYPD: The Who, What, When, and Why of Stop and Frisk. Clam, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Skolnick, J. H. (2007). Racial Profiling—Then and Now. Criminology & Public Policy, 6(1), 65-70. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2007.00422.x

July 24, 2021

Government Sociology

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