Black Lives Matter: Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is not something which ought to exist in any civilised modern society – and most people across the globe would agree. It is the practice of targeting an individual based on their race and a stereotype about their race, rather than any evidence or circumstances. It is a serious form of racism which should never have existed, but which sadly still permeates society.

The term racial profiling usually refers to prejudices existing in law enforcement bodies at all levels, and is generally biased against minorities such as Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American people. The activist movement, Black Lives Matter, is one of the bodies attempting to fight and expose incidents of racial profiling and to explore the damage which it can cause.

There have been arguments in support of racial profiling and it has surprisingly high support, especially following the 9/11 attacks. However, as is obvious, in practice it is prejudice and can lead to serious power abuses by law enforcement bodies, subverting the justice system and disadvantaging minority groups who may not be able to defend themselves.

Racial profiling voids the idea of a neutral justice system under which everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and guilt will be based on hard evidence, not pre-held conceptions. Black Lives Matter point out the outrageousness of a practice which circumnavigates this equality and puts some people at a disadvantage purely based on their nationality.

The police claim that racial profiling is not a part of their process, and that they use a number of different factors in determining the likelihood of criminal activity by an individual. There have been various studies done on different areas of law enforcement to try and discover whether there is discrimination, but of course as soon as media attention turns to an area, it’s likely that the discriminatory practices will be dropped, at least for a time. This makes it difficult to document a true picture of law enforcement and how they deal with problems of discrimination within their forces.

The previous President, Barack Obama, discussed racial profiling at airports, and expressed strong condemnation for the practice, which involves singling out individuals to search on the basis of their nationality. This is in stark contrast with the current President Trump’s ‘Muslim ban,’ which attempts to stop travellers from several predominantly Arabic countries, and could not be described as anything but racial profiling.

The discussion and debate about racial profiling has been ongoing for a long time, with strong evidence of prejudice in many scenarios, and a lack of repercussions for officers abusing their authority when dealing with minorities. It is not difficult to find a sleuth of articles online and in newspapers detailing incidents of apparent racial discrimination, and it is clearly an issue which America needs to work to address. The justice system has already failed in its purpose if it cannot see all people as equal, so the use of racial profiling to single out potential criminals is reprehensible and ought to be condemned by law enforcement everywhere.