Racial Profiling




Societiesthat have people from different racial, ethnic, religious, and otherforms of backgrounds are likely to have a range of stereotypes. Insome cases, the stereotypes cause prejudicial judgments by otherpeople including people working on behalf of government. Race hasbeen the basis of stereotypical tendencies in societies that havedifferent races such as the United States, Australia, Brazil, andCanada. When people take certain actions or steps in good faith withthe purpose of carrying out their legitimate roles in society, butthrough the precincts of preexisting stereotypes about a particularrace, ancestry, place of origin, and ethnicity, they are guilty ofracial profiling (Bonilla-Silva, 2006). For example, there is ageneral stereotype in the United States that African Americans arelikely to be involved in a crime than other racial groups. Thestatistics are normally reinforced by statistics from policedepartments and even federal agencies.

In2011, the leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) presented areport that Hispanics and African Americans have a greater chance ofbeing stopped by the police for regular or directed searches thanwhites. The report also underscored the fact that the searches islikely to happen notwithstanding the fact that Hispanics and AfricanAmericans are also not likely to have an arm carrying an illegalsubstance or involved any form of criminal behavior. An examplehighlighted in the LCCR report was Illinois where Hispanic and backdrivers registered a higher chance of stopping for searches thanwhites. The surprising issue is that the same statistics show thatwhite drivers have a higher chance of being found with illegalmaterial. The New York Police Department’s program of “stop-and–frisk” was also not left out in the analysis where about 85% ofsearches involved a Hispanic or a black person(Welch, 2007). New Yorkpolice officers deliberately searched more blacks and Latinos becausethey believed that they could be involved in one crime or another.Nevertheless, it turned out that nine of the ten blacks or Hispanicsthat were searched were found not have any illicit material thatcould prove the fears of the police.

Adiscussion of how racial profiling gets into law enforcement

Racialprofiling in law enforcement does not begin and stop with the police.By the time the police arrest or use force against a black orHispanic person for the same crime that a white person committed, theprofiling usually had begunsomewhere else.Racial profiling,therefore, begins when distinctions in the criminal capabilities ofeach group form in the mind of a law enforcer or a policing policymaker. The next step is that an act definitive of the existing racialdistinction confirms and informs the collective perceptions about aparticular race by reinforcing the characteristics in one’s mind.By extension, the act is also likely to affect inter-racial relationsand the social position of a particular racial group.

Therehas been considerable debate as to whether police officers acting ingood faith should use the profiling techniques to trace suspects ofcrime. The debate became even more controversial in 2000 when areport stated that there were fewer Africans Americans in collegesthan they were in prison. Such statistics actually lastingperceptions that when one is black, their potentiality for crime ishigher than when they are from a different racial group. However, thesociety still needs to investigate and find out whether this kind ofprofiling is good or bad for law enforcement. Critics of racialprofiling have pointed out the need of illegalization of suchpractices by barking up their arguments with statistics that showgeneral policing practices being against minority groups while infavor of whites. They have also been concerned about the erosion ofpublic confidence in the way police officers deal with people fromminority groups. Even in cases where there is genuine criminalactivity the public may end up misjudging the police just because thesuspects are blacks or Hispanics.

Thesame statistics are also used by those who defend racial profiling.On crime, supporterspoint out that minority constitutes a relativelysmaller part of the populations. For example, Black people are closeto 13 percent of the population(Omi &ampWinant, 2014).They are quickto emphasize the same proportion should be reflected in the rates ofminority groups involved in crime. Nonetheless, over 35% of crimesinvolve people from minority groups. The number is quitedisproportionate making defenders to justify racial profilingpractices.

Inconclusion, stereotypes have caused many cases of racial profiling.There have cases where police officers use excessive force against asuspect who is black because they think they are potentially harmful. The danger of racial profiling is that it creates certainassumptions that perpetrate more injustices because people from acommunity affected by negative stereotypes are likely to fall victimto other aggressors who may be acting based on the stereotypes theyalready have. A police is likely to shoot at an unarmed blacksuspect because they already a preconceived mind that they cannotcooperate during arrest, therefore, shooting is the best option.


Bonilla-Silva,E. (2006). Racismwithout racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racialinequality in the United States.Rowman&amp Littlefield Publishers.

Omi,M., &ampWinant, H. (2014). Racialformation in the United States.Routledge.

Welch,K. (2007). Black criminal stereotypes and racial profiling. Journalof Contemporary Criminal Justice,23(3), 276-288.