Racial Profiling

Essay by Tatyana800College, Undergraduate December 2006

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What is racial profiling? Who exactly does it affect? These, among many others, are some of the questions that will be answered in this paper. As defined by West's Encyclopedia of American Law, racial profiling is the consideration of race, ethnicity, or national origin by a law enforcement officer in deciding when and how to intervene in an enforcement capacity. For laypeople this term means having an officer take action against you only based upon your appearance. When the word 'race' is used in the dictionary, they do not include specifically what race.

Racial profiling is committed towards minorities. What exactly is a minority anyway? Also from West's Encyclopedia of American Law, minority refers to the opposite of the majority, in context of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, minority does not have merely numerical denotation but refers to identifiable and specially disadvantaged groups such as those based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

I'm sure we have all heard the phrase 'driving while black', referring to African Americans being stopped while driving for no apparent reason other than the color of their skin. If that doesn't ring a bell, maybe the names Rodney King, Abner Louima or Amadou Diallo bring back memories. All three of these men were subjected to extreme police force under the pretense of race. These cases raised a social eye to racial profiling and a greater mistrust of law enforcement officials. Seven years after the latter of the three situations occurred, are we still dealing with excessive force without reasonable grounds? Do incidences similar to 'driving while black' still occur?

Traffic Stop Disparities

An article in Jet Magazine covered a story that illustrates racial profiling in traffic stops. The story took place in Illinois last year. Reverend James Meeks was on his way...