Racial Profiling The Negatives
Racial profiling by definition is “any government activity directed at a suspect or group of suspects based solely on race.” Racial profiling was first mentioned in the 1940s along with affirmative action, cumulating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since racial profiling has been around for a very long time, it isn’t a new topic that seems entirely controversial to some audiences. Some believe that racial profiling is an essential part of our society, which means making it easier for the police to catch suspects, or even giving out jobs to those who need them because of their race. It may seem to make life easier for some, but I believe that racial profiling is a negative aspect of our society because it goes against “All men are created equal” within the Constitution while putting down those who are affected by it, racial profiling has been deemed useless when it comes to police work on multiple occasions, and it causes controversy within the “economic pyramid” from which people are placed.
According to the Constitution, “all men are guaranteed the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and that “all men are created equal.” By pinning things such as rape or murder on a person just because of their race, you are showing there is inequality among the people by not considering what others are capable of. With the right motive, an elderly person has just as much ability to kill someone like a person of color does. Moreover, the “pursuit of happiness” guaranteed by the Constitution is in jeopardy due to the fact that racially profiling someone puts them down and questions their character based on their skin color. According to Terry Eastland, the author of “Ending Affirmative Action,” “… Ostensible beneficiaries of affirmative action have testified that preferential treatment often leads to self doubt, dependency, and entitlement” (2). What this means is that those affected by racial profiling feel the emotional strings of it, thus making them wonder what things would be like if they were someone else rather than seeing who they really are. Critics from the story “Not Color Blind: Just Blind,” written by Burke Marshall and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach state that, “… They affirm the goal if an integrated society and do not contend that we have yet achieved it” (484). An integrated society was the basis for the Constitution, since it was written by people with multiple backgrounds; by not having an integrated society, it contradicts the authors’ purpose for writing such a document.
In other cases, using racial profiling as a “tool” to catch suspects involved in rape, murder, and police work have been deemed useless as well. Annie Kiefhaber, the author of “Criminal Profiling: Not as Simple as Black and White,” bluntly states that “In many cases, criminal profiling just doesn’t work” (AN 282). As the essay continues on, she brings up a rape case involving racial profiling as a tool. In this special rape case where the suspect from American Samoa, she states a rhetorical question, “ Is profiling worth it when a simple mistake such as this creates a profile that can generate unnecessary fear across campus and in the community, especially when someone fits the description?” (AN 282). The simple mistake was assuming an American- Samoan was responsible for the crime when it was actually a former Northern Arizona university football player; by using racial profiling, the police limit the possibility of catching their suspects by assuming it’s a person of color rather than checking a wide range of people. Kiefhaber also states that, “Blacks, for example, make up a smaller portion of society than whites, but encompass a considerably larger portion of those involved with the criminal justice system” (AN 282). If we were an integrated society, something that critics say we have not yet achieved, then blacks would not be blamed for most of the crime in America, for crime isn’t limited to one certain race.
The “Economic Pyramid” from which people work from is also an example of modern-day racial profiling as well. According to “Uprooting Racism” by Paul Kivel, the illustration depicts the fact that the top twenty percent of the economic pyramid is predominated by white people and the remaining eighty percent by people of color and everyone else. Having an economy with whites in control can lead to some controversy as well; according to “Ending Affirmative Action” by Terry Eastland, “Wherever affirmative action (racial profiling) operates, the very existence of such a program will lead some people to think that every minority student of even minority employee would not have won opportunity without preferential treatment (471). What this means is that workers who are on the top of the “food chain” even wonder why they have competition from any other person who is not of Caucasian origin. For example, if a person of color does manage to make the top twenty percent, the atmosphere around him or her would make it seem as if they don’t belong there, which ties to the fact that the remaining eighty percent remains on the bottom. If society was really “equal” then the margin would be closer to forty- sixty or even fifty-fifty in percentile.
Some may come to believe that without racial profiling, police would not be able to do their jobs because investigating everybody would be a waste of time. However, using racial profiling as a “tool” to catch criminals looks bad on a policeman’s part because he or she assumes a person of color is automatically a criminal, which is morally wrong. In addition, racial profiling may seem to give power to those who criticize in the first place, making them feel superior to others and thus making them more confident about themselves. However, when that confidence comes at the expense of the people affected, it hurts your own image. People may come to see you as racist or even “stereotypical.” In a society where “All men are created equal,” this does not show equality just because of skin color.
In conclusion, racial profiling is a negative aspect of our society because it contradicts “All men are created equal” in the Constitution and puts down those affected by it, it has been deemed useless when applied to police work, and it affects the “economic pyramid” from which people work. If racial profiling continues to be accepted in our society, then an “integrated society” as we know it will never exist as it should. There would be so much built up animosity between different races that eventually one person would snap, thus causing chaos and even escalate to Civil War all over again. Racial profiling is not worth the trouble being caused, yet it is still tolerated, and this has to cease.