The original term “racial profiling” referred to when law enforcement uses a person’s race or cultural background as the primary reason to suspect that the individual has broken the law. A primary and common example of this is airport security. Individuals who are Muslim or physically have an ‘Arab look’ tend to receive extra airport security check because it is automatically assumed that they might be a terrorist.
I have actually had a personal experience with this when my family was driving across the boarder one summer. My father, who has a full beard and mustache and tanned skin, facial appearances that resemble those of Arabic descent, was at the driver’s seat when we arrived at the boarder. Right after he put down the window to talk to the officer, before any questions were asked the officer immediately asked my father to step out of the car and to open all doors. As the oldest child I was asked if “this man” is really my father and if the other children in the car are really my siblings. I blankly looked at the officer and told him that he was my father and that we are going on a family trip. After my father received a pat down and they were done investigating every aspect of our car, we were free to cross the boarder. Unfortunately, this is one of many stories related to racial profiling. Now, statistics have shown that an Arab-looking man boarding an airplane is more likely to be a terrorist. However, do statistics like this give law enforcement officers the right to treat those who physically appear as “danger” different and more extreme security treatment than those who appear “safe,” such as a white individual? Racial profiling has turned into extreme racial discrimination and it is a serious problem that seems far from being fixed.
To begin, lets first take a look at this article that I found online:
Evidently, racial profiling is not only a serious problem that occurs in security checks, but individuals that are apart of minority groups are having their lives ruined and limited because of this problem. The above article shares that there has been a 52% increase in black offenders in jail, which is the most dramatic increase that there has ever been. The article also explains that black offenders placed in jail are locked up at younger ages and for longer periods of time. Therefore, if and when they are released, it is at their peak employment time, however they are let back into the world with no employment or housing because their lives have been spent behind bars instead. This most defiantly has an impact on why the poverty rates for coloured people are significantly higher compared to the white population. This is a prime example of institutional racism, which is any kind of system of inequality based on race. Unfortunately, it goes even further than coloured individuals just being charged than their white counterparts. The treatment that this minority group receives in jail tends to be harsher and much more brutal by the officers. If law enforcement officials are treating minority groups with greater enforcement and harsher punishment, then what does this say about society? Individuals look up to officials, like police officers, and if their treatment towards minorities is unfair, then individuals are going to believe that this treatment is just and will follow their lead.
Looking at the history of minority groups, there seems to be influential causes for their treatments seen today. For instance, black students have received harsher punishments in school, a place where all children should feel safe. Therefore, these children have higher chances of growing up into “rebels,” contributing to the reputation that blacks are affiliated with gangs and want to cause to harm to others. Another further contribution to this problem is the Prison-Industrial Complex. The Prison-Industrial Complex helps secure the authority of people who get their power through racial, economic and other structural privileges by defending current power distributions. This is created through media portraying certain groups as criminal delinquents. For example, in the movie Training Day, Denzel Washington trains a police officer, but by following his own techniques, which are quite unorthodox for the police force. By the end of the movie, Denzel’s character becomes what one would consider a dishonest and disproved cop. When media, one of the strongest influential tools, is consistently portraying those of minority groups as villains or outcasts, it is surely going to influence how society behaves towards them.
Racial discrimination is extremely problematic that requires a change in the structure of society in order for fixture to begin. Media has a large amount of influence and power to help this change, but instead it has been used to contribute to the issue at large. The way media portrays minority groups, such as coloured people, is often done in a negative light and this contributes to the treatment they receive in real-life by authorities. Making assumptions based on one’s physical appearance or cultural background is wrong, even if statistics may prove otherwise. There always needs to be probable cause for search or seizure and this law should remain enforced in all areas of society.