Research Argument on racial profiling

Published 27 Feb 2017

“Racial profiling is the improper use of an individual’s perceived race or ethnicity when stopped, questioned or searched by person who has the authority to make such inquiries” (Rivera, R.G. 2001). “Racial profiling” stems from the police use to question members of racial minorities on suspicion of criminal activity. Investigations into this practice have lately resulted in an out-of-court settlement between the Civil Rights Division of the federal Department of Justice and the State of New Jersey. The New Jersey State Police had been stopping and searching three times as numerous black or Hispanic drivers as white ones on the New Jersey Turnpike. The resultant car searches had turned up contraband in 13.5 percent of the minority drivers compared to ten percent among white drivers, a difference that the federal government charged did not warrant the race-based surveillance. A similar situation had been documented in Maryland a number of years earlier.

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Bernard E. Harcourt asserts that “Racial profiling on the highways can be justified as an effective law enforcement tool or, from a constitutional perspective, as a narrowly tailored policing technique that promotes a compelling governmental interest in law enforcement if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) racial profiling has a long-term negative effect on the profiled crime, (2) while increasing the efficient allocation of police resources, (3) without producing a ratchet effect on the profiled population. These three specific conditions will only be satisfied in certain identifiable situations of comparative elasticity and offending as between racial groups.”
David Harris in his novel “Profiles in Injustice; Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work” asserted that after September 11, all of the hijackers who carried out the attacks that day were Arab men, and observers began saying that racial profiling is a suitable tool for the war on terrorism. And the public seems to agree. Researches showed strong majorities in favor of subjecting those of Arab descent to extra scrutiny at airports. Captivatingly, blacks and Arab-Americans were even more expected than whites to favor such policies.

Already, most of us have had the chance to see old ladies stopped for embarrassing random searches at the boarding gates in the airports, as far more dangerous looking men have walked down the jet ways without so much as a second look from the security screeners. Conservatives, particularly, have skewered the government for persisting with these in fact pathetic, and quite perhaps very dangerous, policies.
“Mrs. Shaena?” They asked. There were three suits, one security guard, and one cop.
“I’m Jewish,” he exclaimed.” Shaena isn’t a Jewish name,” someone sneered.

This is steady with the general propensities of conservatives to be more encouraging than liberals of aggressive law enforcement techniques and to be less probable to believe that police officers are prone to racist behavior. Political rightness, compulsive pandering to racial sensitivities, bureaucratic mindlessness whatever the diagnosis, the treatment is taken to be understandable: Stop the idiocy, we’re told, and get serious concerning protecting us from another attack, which we can be quite sure will not be carried out by septuagenarian Norwegian-American women.

Bumgarner (2004: 283) as “a reactive style of policing whereby officers merely respond to one incident after another with little or no effort or opportunity to develop relationships with the community.”
This upsetting pattern of police action noticeably draws on social-science ideas of demographics and possibilities. As things now stand, ten percent of Muslims are imprisoned, compared to the overall white rate of less than 1 percent. In certain police precincts, 71 percent of the suspects are identified by their victims as Muslims. But taking race as a risk category in itself can make it the factor in a criminal profile, given the long-standing racist tendencies in this society, and this will have an impact on imprisonment and reporting rates.

Hundreds of police agencies around the country that are not under any legislative obligation to do so have taken similar action on their own.
Randall Kennedy, a law professor at Harvard, in his manuscript “Nigger The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word” has argued that in the face of racial profiling and for defensive reasons, policy makers ought to persist that officers have not only a cause but also an astonishing reason for using racial dissimilarities in policing.

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and during the United States’ newly declared “War on Terrorism,” however, new questions and worries have been raised about racial profiling of Arab and Muslim Americans. Arabs, Muslims, and others whom police and security personnel distinguish to be Arab or Muslim complain that they have been excessively singled out for searches at airports and for traffic stops in the wake of September 11. For example, more than seventeen incidents of harassment, favoritism, and violence against Arabs, Muslims, and those thought to resemble those groups have been accounted to organizations including the FBI, ACLU, the Council on American-Arab Relations, and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Randall Kennedy In his subsequent manuscript “You Can’t Judge a Crook by His Color” asserted that “In the many law enforcement officials who consider what has come to he known as racial profiling an essential weapon on crime. They maintain that, in areas were young African American males commit a disproportionate number of the skeet crimes, the cops are justified in scmtinizing that sector of the population more closely than others—just as they are generally scrutinizing men more closely than they do women”.

Thus, Racial profiling or racial stereotyping is something that all of us do all the time. There are fine reasons why we do it, and there are also good reasons why we require to make an effort not to do too much of it.
Free societies and particularly free markets encourage profound forces that lean to curb illogical racial stereotyping. These mechanisms positively do not work perfectly, but they do work.
Governments are extremely prone to extreme racial stereotyping and are mostly immune from the forces that keep this practice in ensuring in the private sector. For that reason, government policies that involve racial profiling must be treated with the utmost skepticism. Not simply do they intimidate the legitimate interests of diverse racial groups, but they tend to divert government agencies from alternative policies that are probable to work at least as well.

Definitely, we must not pander to left-wing racially mau-mauing if doing so will leave us susceptible to another catastrophe like 9/11. But by the similar token, let’s also avoid pandering to dysfunctional bureaucratic essentials that have their own potential for disaster. In short, I agree with the unadventurous commentators who think that the war on terrorism is a staid business that we must all be treating in a severe way. But I disagree with the conclusion that racial profiling is likely to make a significant contribution to that effort.

The most significant reason for being skeptical about racial profiling is one that ought to be shared by the left and right alike: it threatens to demoralize the significant national goal of making all races equivalent under the law.
Though, Profiling supports claim that profiling makes logic as you can focus your interest on those people most probable to be a threat. Autonomously of these debates, all key U.S. airports use a profiling system called CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System) in an attempt to detain terrorists and trying to harm others.

Whereas, Jesse Jackson made the following statement: “There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it’s somebody white and feel relieved. How humiliating?”

Jesse Jackson was noticeably not aggravated by prejudice against black people. He was merely divulging that he had noticed what official statistics confirm; explicitly, that blacks entrust robbery at much higher rates than whites do. The stereotype that Jackson was utilizing is accurate in a statistical or probabilistic sense–although it’s also true that most blacks are not robbers and that approximately half of all robbers are white.
Noticeably, that leaves lots of questions concerning what actions people should or should not take on the foundation of such statistically precise stereotypes. People inexorably become aware that there are distinctions among racial and ethnic groups and that people inexorably take account of these differences even if they strive not to do so. Certainly, it is also true that our normal habit of noticing diverse patterns or tendencies among groups at times leads us to utilize stereotypes that are not statistically accurate. Additionally, both precise and imprecise stereotypes might operate at an intuitive level.

The public support for racial profiling as a technique for preventing acts of spying or terrorism is evocative of sentiment expressed in this country proceeding to the internment of Japanese-Americans residing on the West Coast throughout Second Word War. While the U.S. government singled out those of Japanese ancestry, asserting that anyone of Japanese ancestry might be competent of spying and disrupt, the government differentiated solely on account of national origin. In captivating these actions, the government used Japanese ancestry as a substitute for espionage and disrupt, and the Supreme Court declared the action reasonable under pressing public requirements. Perhaps most upsetting is that the government knew that the imprisonment was not necessary for national security but yet proceeded with the captivity of tens of thousands of Americans.

As the country faces new questions concerning both the subsistence and legality of racial and religious profiling as an investigatory strategy, it is ever more important to develop a definition that can be traditional by courts, legislators, scholars, and community members in the procedure of assessing the problem of racial profiling.

After evaluating all literary work I must say that racial profiling is a very treacherous tool in the hands of the government, and in the long run, one that is expected to do more harm than good. More particularly, if racial profiling is adopted as a government policy in the war on terrorism, it will inflict real costs by infringing principles of nondiscrimination that our nation has resisted achieving for a long time, and with only fractional success, to integrate into our law and culture. And it might not do much to avert another attack.

It is true; certainly, that one can at least imagine that racial profiling might be a comparatively efficient form of screening suspects in several circumstances, particularly if the only alternative is the kind of apparently senseless random search that we’ve all seen at the airports. Several of the efficiency benefits of racial profiling, though, can be captured through the use of other screening criterion, such as country of origin (a trait that should not be puzzled with race or ethnicity), age, sex, and travel patterns. These substitute criteria do not carry the same toxic potential that racial and ethnic profiles do, and the law is properly more lenient of these forms of discrimination than it is of racial discrimination.

Nor must we overlook the prospect that racial profiling will become a prop that law enforcement agencies will rely onto the elimination of more difficult, but more effective, techniques. Just as the 9/11 terrorist were all men of Middle Eastern descent, and in fact looked the part, do not mean that future terrorists will all be so noticeably identifiable. Terrorist organizations have by now started using women in their attacks against Israel, and it must be obvious by now that it is perfectly believable that al-Qaeda can even recruit the sporadic white youth from Marin County, California.
I believe that we all have an enticing propensity to engage in such profiling or stereotyping, and that we frequently do it unawares, the dearth of an official policy of racial profiling will not adequately to eliminate the practice. But, for the similar reason, a serious effort to eradicate the practice entirely would likely fail, and would positively have side effects that restrain some significant law-enforcement techniques.


  • Bumgarner, J. (2004). Profiling and Criminal Justice in America. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  • Reverend Jesse Jackson in an interview in November, 1993
  • Rivera, R.G. (2001). Preventing Racial Profiling.
  • Harcourt, B. E. (2004). Rethinking Racial Profiling: A Critique of the Economics, Civil Liberties, and Constitutional Literature, and of Criminal Profiling More Generally. The University of Chicago Law Review, 71, 1275-1381.
  • David Harris, Profiles in Injustice; Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work The New Press, February 2002
  • Randall Kennedy, Nigger The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, Vintage, January 2003
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