Racial profiling remains a serious problem within society and in particular law enforcement. Racial profiling refers to suspecting a person of wrong-doing or criminal activity based upon stereotypes of the person’s race or ethnicity. It has been determined to be unconstitutional (Chin & Vernon, 2015). Stereotypes of individuals based upon their race and ethnicity help lead to racial profiling. For instance, the idea that all terrorists are Muslims may lead individuals to believe that all Muslims are terrorists. This is a stereotype. Racial profiling happens when an airline employee removes a Muslim person from a plane based solely upon the person’s heritage.
This is a particularly interesting issue because Muslim is a religion and not a race; however, individuals who appear to be Arab are often viewed as Muslim. The issue of racial profiling in Muslims is an ongoing issue since the events of 9/11 (Alstultany, 2012, pp. 2-3). Statistics are often used to justify racial profiling; however, they can also be used to refute it. According to Gross and Livingston (2002), “For example, it could simultaneously be true that 90% of major cocaine traffickers on 1-95 are black and Hispanic, 40 and that 99.9% of black and Hispanic motorists on that highway are not drug traffickers of any description” (p. 1423). Statistics do not justify judging entire races of people.
One of the more tragic cases of racial profiling occurred in New York City in 2014. The case of Eric Garner indicated that the officers engaged in serious activities that contributed to the death of Garner, an African-American man. Garner was harassed by the police on the simple accusation that he sold cigarettes. He was placed in a chokehold and indicated that he could not breathe. Garner suffered from respiratory diseases. He died as a result of his treatment at the hands of New York City Police Department. Despite this, the police were not indicted by the grand jury.
- Alsultany, E. (2012). Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11. nyu Press.
- Chin, G. J., & Vernon, C. (2015). Reasonable but Unconstitutional: Racial Profiling and the Radical Objectivity of Whren v. United States. George Washington Law Review, 83(3).
- Gross, S. R., & Livingston, D. (2002). Racial profiling under attack. Columbia Law Review, 1413-1438.