Racial Profiling Essay, Research Paper
?We must ensure that stereotypes and prejudice, whether consciously or unconsciously, do not creep into the work we do?
- Attorney General Janet Reno
What is race? In the colonial era, Western ideologies helped to build a dominant European society. The rise of the West had a dramatic effect on the rest of the world. A new Capitalist economy was adopted. It operated on the basis of oppression. Prior to this time, races did not exist. Yet, as the white man came into power, his superiority was enforced by a set of standards, a hierarchy of the races to which white Eurocentrism was placed above all and closest to God. Consequentially, blacks were valued below all others. It has taken years of struggle for the black community to be acknowledged as equal by the state. Yet, when the topic of racial profiling is called into question, it is obvious that those same racist Western ideologies of the past are very much a part of the present.
Racial stereotypes have lead to the false belief that racial minorities are more likely to be trafficking drugs. Officers have targeted blacks and Latinos for traffic stops in hopes of discovering contraband in the course of the stop. The statistics are very blatant; a survey of state police traffic stops on the New Jersey turnpike showed that while blacks make up only 13.5 percent of the drivers in the area, they constitute 46.2 percent of people stopped. In Maryland, blacks make up 75 percent of all stops while only 17.5 percent of all motorists are black. When surveyed in Maryland, the rate of which blacks and whites were found to have drugs in their vehicles was about equal (about 28 percent).
This false belief that blacks and Latinos are more likely to be carrying drugs and weapons has a negative effect on the nation as a whole. The spread of these beliefs into the media has a direct link with the perpetuation of unjust stereotyping. As Al Sharpton said, “Racial profiling is the modern term for segregation.”
What gives our legal system the right to label and accuse certain racial groups? The problem with law is that man made it. Therefore, it has bias. However, there are those certain inalienable rights to which we all are entitled to as citizens of the United States. Yet when the authority that dictates them violates these rights, there is a serious problem. Who is the law working for? This is probably one f the most important questions concerning law today. From past history, it is obvious that the legal system is dominated and regulated by three components: money, power, and whiteness.
All of the three components that in a sense, contaminate “justice”, coincide with one another. One could compare the issue of racial profiling to the Kafka reading in the beginning of class. The man before the law represents the minority community. He is constantly drawn to the law by the same authorities who keep him from it, or do they keep him not from the law, because it is that which they control, but from justice and truth? Either way, the man is stuck with no way out. His age reflects the constant struggle with the law, offering little or no hope. The authority is simply playing mind games with the man, belittling him and at the same time, making the man feel reliant on the law.
Racial profiling calls into question not only the rule of law, but also the ideologies of our whole “society”. Laws, whether they are supposed to or not, have a direct link with the moral values of the society that enforces them. If laws govern and shape our virtues, then by allowing racial profiling to continue, our government is advocating legalized racism.
There is a definite cause for concern when the basic rights of those in a society labeled the ?melting pot? are constantly being violated. Racial profiling is am among a broad number of topics that seem to exemplify the need for change in not only our legal system, but in the thoughts of those who represent it. The historical context of race relations within the United States has proved to be a roadmap of what is to come. Slowly, society is making progress but there are still renovations to be made and some areas that need to be totally done away with. The United States prides itself in being the most diverse country. Yet what is so good about diversity if the government fails to honor and embrace it? Jim Crow has ended, and so should racial profiling.