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Megan Cole

Ms. Baldini

Junior English 11 Honors

28 March 2011

All about Why Racial Profiling is Bad

Racial profiling has raised controversial questions about whether it is a fair concept and

whether it is ethically right to do this to people based on their race. As said in the book Crimes

and Criminals Opposing Viewpoints, “racial profiling is any use of race, religion, ethnicity, or

national origin by law enforcement agents as a means of deciding who should be investigated,

except where these characteristics are part of a specific suspect description” (53). In other words

racial profiling is singling out a person based on their race and pulling them over for minor

offenses to then conduct searches of their vehicles. The police assume that since they are not a

white American that they have drugs or weapons in their cars. The book Criminal Justice

Opposing Viewpoints said that “the concept of racial profiling began in the late 80’s and early

90’s” (45). I feel that racial profiling is bad because first of all it is racist. No one should be

discriminated against because of their race and background, and everyone has the right to be

treated equally under the law.

While there are many ethnic groups involved in racial profiling, a majority of people feel

that racial profiling focuses only on just black people. As stated in the book Criminal Justice

Opposing Viewpoints, “prior to 9/11, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos were

often the targets of police profiling. And since the 9/11 attacks, law enforcement has intensified

the profiling and harassment of South Asians, Muslims and Arabs…” (46). This quote shows

that ever since the incident on September 11th, many more ethnic groups, especially Arabs in the

Middle East and not just African Americans, have become subjected to racial profiling because
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of a few extremists’ actions which make many feel that all people who look like them are

criminals. In addition, other victims of racial profiling, “include Native Americans, Asian

Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Arab Americans, Iranian Americans,

American Muslims, and many immigrants” (Amnesty International USA). This quote shows us

that not only are black people profiled by the police, but many other ethnic groups around the

world are as well. In some circumstances, though rare, White Americans are victims of racial

profiling too. Overall, all types of people in the world are affected by racial profiling in some

way or another. Although some are more targeted than others, it does not make a difference on

the fact that it is wrong. No one race is superior to another in the eyes of the law and no one

event should make one group of people more subjected to being profiled. Race continues to be a

controversy when it comes to law and more specifically laws of motor vehicles.

In America whites make up a majority of the population but when it comes to being

pulled over, searched, ticketed, or ultimately arrested, they are subjected to this the least by

police, percentage wise. In 2002, only 8.7% of white drivers were pulled over out of the 12, 842,

254 white drivers on the road. On the other hand, 9.1% of black drivers were pulled over out of

the 1, 852, 086 black drivers (Criminal Justice: Opposing Viewpoints). In 2005, another survey

was taken about drivers and percentages comparing white people and drivers of other races. The

percentage of people likely to be pulled over while driving over the age of 24; blacks: 11.2%,

whites 8.9%. When it comes to drivers being stopped for speeding and being ticketed blacks had

the highest at 75.7%, and whites were only 66.6%. When police were conducting searches for

being pulled over in traffic stops for males blacks accounted for 15.9%, Hispanics 14.2%, and

whites only 7.9%. When it comes to drivers being stopped by police and arrested blacks

constitute 5.2%, and whites 2.6%. (Crimes and Criminals: Opposing Viewpoints). According to

the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), “blacks accounted for 27% of arrests in 2002 even though
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they were only 13% of the population, and whites and Hispanics were accounted for 71% of

arrests but were 81% of the population…blacks were more than twice as likely to be arrested as

whites and Hispanics.” All of these surveys show how other races, especially blacks, are treated

worse and profiled more than white people and that although white people make up most of the

population, they are targeted less than any other race by the police. This is not fair, for no one

race should be pulled over more because of their race, and this should be changed, starting with

how police are trained in regards to race and traffic stops.

Many police stations have trained their officers to pull over certain people based on their

looks. Under Operation Pipeline in 1985, “police were trained to pull people over based on age,

race, and targeted black and Hispanic male drivers. The police would pull them over for a traffic

violation as a pretext to see if they have drugs.” Police assume that people of races other than

whites will have drugs in their car, “even though officers…found more drugs when they

searched whites (17%), then African Americans (8%) of the time”, according to the Department

of Justice in 1999. In addition, a survey in New Jersey said that, “people of color (are) searched

more often, but only found drugs in the cars of African Americans 13% of the time and Latinos

5% of the time as opposed to whites 25% of the time.” This also proves that drugs are found in

the car of whites more often than any other race, even though people of other races are pulled

over purposely to see if they have drugs. This inequality bestowed upon by the police on

minority ethnic groups in regards to having to pull people over here in America is unacceptable

and thus police training needs to be reformed. Police are not taking the right approach about this

issue and it can have harmful results and “can have devastating and deadly consequences

because victims of racial profiling are sometimes further victimized by acts of police violence

and brutality” (Racial Profiling: Seven Facts). There are stories that can prove such brutality and

there needs to be a new protocol in place or else more innocent victims will die.
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One situation of such brutality involved Santiago. Santiago was a black, epileptic man

who was killed by police. The police, who pulled him over, thought he had drugs on the floor of

his car so they threw him on the ground, placed a knee on his back and caused him to stop

breathing. He was unconscious, so they gave him oxygen. He did gain consciousness for a short

while, but then died in the hospital while handcuffed. (Racial Profiling: Seven Facts). This

shows how police can take something too far and in the end kill someone based off “suspicion”

and no evidence.

Another example is what happened to Robert Wilkins, an African American who was

attending Harvard to become an attorney, on May of 1992. Robert and three other family

members were pulled over on the interstate highway in Maryland for speeding. The officer

asked for consent to search the car but Robert knew his rights and refused. The officer made

Robert and his family stand outside in the rain for almost an hour until a police dog came and

sniffed out the vehicle for drugs. When nothing was found, the officer gave Robert a ticket and

left. Robert found out that he was pulled over because he and his family fit the racial description

used by the Maryland State Police to pull people over for drugs; Robert was a male, black and

driving a rental vehicle. (51, Crime and Criminal Opposing Viewpoints). These two incidents

show that police not only abuse their power and those minorities in which they pull over for

minor infractions if any but they cannot always assume that people of certain profiles and races

are breaking the law and should not treat them differently. The Constitution says that everyone is

created equally and is seen as equals under the law and this is by no means an exception, but

when it comes to the public opinion of racial profiling has a negative connotation.

While some feel racial profiling is a good thing, a majority of people here in America feel

it is unacceptable and racist. Different surveys have been taken and each show completely

different results about whether people agree or disagree with racial profiling. First, a survey said
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that, “66% of whites and 71% of African-Americans support the ethnic profiling of people who

look to be middle-eastern decent” (Racial Profiling in an Age of Terrorism) and after 9/11

another survey said that, “60% of Americans support racial profiling of Arabs at airports…” (20-

21, Discrimination). These two polls show that people support racial profiling, when talking

about Arabs/middle-eastern decent with the condition of 9/11 applied, but no other race. A

different survey released on December 9th, 1999 reveals that, “over 50% of those polled believed

that the police were engaged in racial profiling; and 81% said that they disapprove this” (History

of Racial Profiling Analysis). This survey shows that people feel that racial profiling is wrong

and that everyone should be treated the same. Overall people feel that it is morally wrong, but

when anti-terrorism sentiment is thrown in Arabs and those from the Middle East are targeted

and ultimately this is unfair for these wrongly labeled people and prejudice at its finest by

Americans; strong feelings which need to be re-shaped to get rid of such profiling from taking

place.

Therefore I feel that racial profiling is bad, it is racist and needs to change. I feel that no

one should be pulled over based on their race because it promotes that everyone is not equal

under the law, which is not the case. Everyone, no matter their race, should be treated the same,

and if this does not change soon it can lead to more devastating results. More people will be

brutality attacked and killed by the police if this policy does not change. This is why racial

profiling needs to be eliminated for good.