Racial Profiling

Arianna Wikins

What is racial profiling? What age groups are targeted?

Racial Profiling is the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement (e.g. make a traffic stop or arrest). The practice is controversial and is illegal in many jurisdictions.

Racial Profiling enforcement mainly targets minorities in adolescent years, but more so in adulthood.

Some general examples of racial profiling by police

A few examples of racial profiling by police may include:

  • An African American man standing on a corner waiting for a bus is stopped and questioned regarding why he is standing there and where he is going.
  • A Hispanic/African-American driver is stopped in a “white” neighborhood because he “doesn’t belong there” or “looks out of place.”
  • A group of black teenagers are pulled over because of the kind of car they are driving.
  • Any person of color stopped for minor traffic violations and then questioned about where there are going, or if they have illegal drugs or weapons in their possession.

Racial profiling is also used as a basis of discrimination for employment, services, housing, etc., or to give preferential treatment to an individual or group of people because of their race or ethnicity.

Racial Profiling in the Mass Media

* Racial profiling is an apparent and problematic aspect of local media today as it serves to further biases and stereotypes in our culture.

*Investigation/Crime Television programs such as "The First 48" focuses mainly on African-Americans and minorities that commit the crimes - which are mainly homicides - for the majority of the episodes and this only demonstrates how disproportionate the show is in terms of race and balance. Nearly every episode of the program has either black or Hispanic perpetrators to the crimes on the show and rarely is their any deviation from this norm.

Racial Profiling effects in Schools

* Their have been many have concerns with racial profiling in the education system. According to an article, African American, Hispanic, and Arab students, there is a perception in some school boards that children from these groups may be stereotyped as “slow to learn” and aggressive, and are therefore considered to be the instigators of any conflict or problems at school.

Mass Media's effect on American Society concerning Racial Profiling

* In today’s media culture we are constantly bombarded with prejudicial and discriminatory images and ideas.

* When turning on the news and glancing through the pages of a local newspaper, ethnic minorities are the central focus of crime features and are thus portrayed as the prime source of crime in our nation.

* Similarly, victims of criminal acts who are of an ethnic minority are rarely featured, as Caucasian victims claim the spotlight in media forums.

* This faulty depiction of crime and offenders lead to the perpetuation of prejudicial beliefs in our country. At the crux of this issue is the problem of racial profiling that exits in various realms within our society. Specifically, as illustrated, racial profiling in the media is of greatest concern.

Article Citations

Hanley, Daelinda C. "It's Time to End Racial, Religious and Ethnic Profiling of Americans." Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Jun/Jul 2012: 27. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 29 Oct 2013.

"On the Thin Line Between Law and Prejudice." The Age (Melbourne). 20 Feb 2013: 12. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 29 Oct 2013.

Image Citations

"Ethical Issues In Racial Profiling." Web log post. The Jury Expert. Ed. Annabelle Lever, PhD. N.p., Jan. 2009. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Hines, Debbie. "Racial Profiling and Stop and Frisk Are the Same Old Song." Web log post. Google Images. Debbie Hines, 10 Aug. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Stavrou, Johnny. "Justice For Children and Youth (JFCY): Racial Profiling & Your Rights." Web log post. Justice For Children and Youth (JFCY): Racial Profiling & Your Rights. Lauren Grossman, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Yamamoto, Eric K. "Racial Profiling Policies." Racial Profiling Policies - Race, Rights and Reparation. Aspen Publishers, 2001. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.