Racial profiling is defined as the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence. Racial profiling is one of America’s greatest flaws and holds a substantial amount of significance to America’s past, present, and future. Although this issue appears to be new, bigotry and stereotyping People of Color is a problem that has been happening for years. Race should not be the only reason why a black individual, known to be the minority, gets pulled over and harassed by law enforcement without justification. One of the principle cases of racial profiling is called DWB (Driving While Black). This term has become widely used by African Americans to demonstrate the unfairness of being stopped by officers due to the apparent sin of having darker skin and coarser hair.
This name is intended to be a satirical shot at the term DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Most cases of racial profiling during “routine traffic stops” are based on the idea that minorities are more likely to be guilty of illegal drug offenses. Since police search for drugs more frequently among African Americans and Latinos than they do among Whites, the number of illegal drugs confiscated from non-Whites is significantly higher than the number of drugs confiscated by Whites. This is backed by statistics that state White individuals make up the largest population of illegal drug users and sellers in the United States, but have the lowest number of incarcerations due to illegal drug charges. Subsequently the Black and Latino communities are systematically targeted, searched, and detained stimulating the idea that drug trafficking is characteristic of these two ethnicities. White drivers get far less police consideration, allowing a considerable amount of the street pharmacists and clients among them escape.
This bolsters the belief that Whites obtain less medication offenses than minorities due to being uninvolved in these crimes. In turn, the mistreatment of innocent individuals of a darker skin complexion is often seen as justifiable because of the image given off that African Americans are drug users by nature. In many cases where the person being searched has no illegal substances an officer will plant one on the individual and will many times get away with it because of the aforementioned idea. Because of this, minorities are less eager to cooperate with law enforcement when stopped than their Caucasian counterparts.
“Driving While Black” is not an issue that recently emerged its quite recently picking up a name. The act of racial profiling by our country’s police is the outcome of the rising worry about the war on drugs in ethnic communities. Racial profiling does not just happen in the United States. It happens in many other countries such as, France and Germany. There are times where people are approached because they are a specific race while being in a certain place at the wrong time.
Sandhya Kambhampati expressed, “I assumed it was a one-time thing, or maybe there was an ordinance of some sort for running in the park that early in the morning I didn’t know about. As a woman of color, I did not think race could be a reason why he stopped me. I just figured it was because I was the only person in the park. I also did not think I would encounter the police again for the duration of my 10-month fellowship at Correctiv, an investigative nonprofit newsroom in Berlin, unless I had to talk to them for a story.”There have been many different incidents with court cases about people of color and about how they have been mistreated because of the color or their skin.
For example, the controversial Trayvon Martin Case in which an African American teenage boy was murdered for no reason whatsoever and his murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of second- degree murder. In this particular case, a young, innocent, African American was murdered at the hands of a White male and the judicial authorities, law enforcers, as well as much of the public turned a blind eye to it or tried to justify why it was necessary as has happened in many cases of this caliber. The court decisions of many of these racial cases are still just as horrendous as they were back in the prime of the Ku Klux Klan. It is worth mention that in the Southern states it was legally impossible for a White man to be convicted of killing a Black man all the way up until the year 1865. There are multitudinous reports of untried murders of black people by whites and just as many reports of individuals who were tried, but acquitted from 1865 to the present. It is indeed quite rare to have a case in which a Black individual was harassed, assaulted, or even killed by a white individual and that white individual was punished according to the law. Much of these ingrained social norms of the devaluing of a black person’s life come from other judicial decision such as the 3/5 Rule that states every 3 out of 5 Blacks are equal to one White.
This is a society in which black people are not even considered full people. Although the Constitution and laws state otherwise, Black people have yet to reach a point where they are considered human beings who are just as deserving of life, justice, and happiness as everyone else. Not only have there been cases of black people not getting justice for their wrongful deaths, but there have also been many cases in which black individuals were accused and wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t even commit. A prime example of a case like this is the Kalief Browder Story.
Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old African American boy who was accused of stealing a bookbag and was imprisoned for three years with an extended amount of time in solitary confinement. Later he was released due to lack of witnesses and lack of evidence. Upon his release he was noted to have paranoid tendencies and became very anti-social.
His mother observed how he would shut himself up in his room for days at a time and not come out. Two years after he was released from prison, he committed suicide. This behavior points towards abuse he suffered both mentally and physically while he was incarcerated.
Kalief Browder would still be alive if it were not for the fact that the judicial system had failed to protect him and his rights as is the case with most African Americans. Another example of wrongful charges on African Americans with sentences being given without true justice being served is the Brian Banks Case. In this case black NFL prospect Brian Banks was accused of raping his classmate Wanetta Gibson. Banks faced a possible 41 years to life sentence for these false accusations. Due to this he lost all of his scholarships, acceptances, and deals with colleges/universities and the NFL.
He was advised by his lawyer to accept a plea deal in which he served 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and registered as a sex offender. Banks did this because the likelihood of him winning his case was almost nonexistent due to the jury viewing him as “a big, black teenager” according to his lawyer. Eight year later, Gibson admitted that she made up the story.
By that time, it was already too late the damage was done, but he did get money back and his criminal record was waived. However, if society hadn’t labeled black men as aggressive, sexual beings, Banks would have never had to serve time because he would have had a fair trial. Troy Davis was an African American man who was wrongly executed for allegedly killing a police officer. The evidence and news reports were strictly racially discriminatory, painting Davis out to be a thug and a violent man, but the evidence pointed towards him being innocent.
After he was executed, the witnesses began to revise their original statements which prove that Davis was innocent. This once again proves that many judicial decisions and punishments given to African Americans were based purely out of bigotry.Due to racial profiling, African American lives are seen as less valuable than Caucasian lives.
Evidence of this belief goes as far back as Emmet Till. Emmet Till was a teenage African American boy who was savagely murdered by a mob of White men for allegedly whistling at a White woman. Emmet’s murderers not only got away with killing him, but were also never charged or tried in a court of law.
Many years later the infamous L.A. Riots began due to the excessive beating of a black man named Rodney King by four Los Angeles Police Officers. Despite the beating being recorded and aired on television countless times in a row, all four officers were still acquitted of all charges. Just over a decade later the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, and numerous others. Although all these events happened in many different places, were caused by different people, and varied in how they were carried out, one thing has remained the same; each of their killers have gotten away with these crimes unpunished. In many cases police officers are the killers of these innocent black people, but there are many cases in which civilians have used violent and/or deadly force on people of color.
This continuous cycle of murder, acquittal, protest, and violent anti-protest force used by police demonstrates how Black people are considered expendable. According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic, approximately 27.94% of African American adults (on a weighted scale) have reported being harassed or abused unjustifiably by police officers at some point in their life. There have been cases in which African American individuals, usually male, are stalked and harassed by police officers just simply for being Black. Often times, these police officers stereotype black males as thugs and prime crime targets. These incidents have happened for years and are widely accepted as a way of life which is unacceptable. As most black children reach their teenage years, their parents give them “the talk”. This talk is not the talk most people think of getting during their teenage years in which they are taught about intimacy between couples.
On the contrary, this talk is about how to respond and behave to being stopped by police or harassed by police in order to survive. No child should have to be taught how to survive a police encounter. No one deserves the fear of walking out of their home and wondering if they or their loved ones will make it back home alive and unharmed.
According to the same survey, an astonishing number of African Americans of driving ages and higher have reported a heightened level of fear, paranoia, and stress when around police officers or stopped by police officers. The fact that these numbers are even high enough for measure is a complete contradiction to American values as well as the police pledge to “serve and protect”. African Americans feel so at risk that a pro-black group has emerged called Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is an organization that began in order to raise awareness to the devaluing of black people’s lives. This organization began after the acquittal of George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin with no penalty whatsoever as an attempt to protest the racial discrimination blacks face as well as the unwarranted deaths of black people at the hand of white people. The founders recognized the systematic racism that targets minorities and elimination of black people with little to no retribution on the side of the government.
As with all pro-black groups, Black Lives Matter was criticized and painted to be a terroristic, anti-white, anti-police group as an attempt to bring about its destruction. As another attempt to bring BLM to an end people have started movements such as “All Lives Matter” under the impression that BLM is promoting the idea that black lives mean more than other people’s lives. That is not the case at all.
Black Lives Matter is simply reminding America that the lives of black people should be treasured and protected just as much as their white counterparts. There should not have to be a reminder to value the lives of African Americans, but in our society, it is necessary due to the very fact that through their actions the United States justice system seems to have either forgotten or just does not care. This can honestly go back to the time of slavery and what the African American community had went through in the past.
The African American people did not just sit back and fight for their rights back then just too still be taunted in today’s society. It is wrong and people are out here looking at the situation that they are in right now as if it is just a game. Nobody wants to help, they are just simply sitting on their behind watching it happen.In Frederick Douglass’ Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, “The Fugitive Slave Act was part of a last-ditch attempt to preserve the Union. Instead, it intensified the differences between the North and South. In 1854, Northern Whigs, anti-slavery Democrats, and Free-Soil party members assembled in Ripon, Wisconsin, to form a new political organization, the Republican party. The anti-slavery forces greeted the nomination and subsequent election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860 as politically positive for their cause. The Southern states, however, reacted by moving toward secession.
In February 1861, the Southern states chose Jefferson Davis as the Provisional President of the Confederate States. With the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina by Confederate troops on April 12, 1861, the Civil War began. (Douglass)To this day, some people still do not have a proper understanding about why African American and Hispanic people, the minorities, are always the main ones being targeted throughout the streets.
“By analyzing data from 4.5 million traffic stops in 100 North Carolina cities, Stanford researchers have found that police in that state are more likely to search black and Hispanic motorists, using a lower threshold of suspicion, than when they stop white or Asian drivers. (Andrews) The different studies are shown based on the incidence of searches because of their race, and the outcomes of those searches have been done in the past, therefore people start to have the concern about the police racial profiling.
(Andrews)Furthermore, African Americans and other minorities face a great deal of racism, discrimination, racial profiling, and injustice at the hands of American people. There is rarely ever any punishment given to those who abuse, harass, or even kill black people. This completely goes against everything that America claims to value. Racial discrimination is an old problem that is still very prominent even in our sophisticated society. Whether or not these things will change depends on the sense of justice of the people and on a true change of morals in our justice system. The question on whether or not this will actually happen and how long it will take; only time will tell.