The Continuing Problem of Racial Profiling


On December 1st, 2013 in Houston, Texas, two black men were detained after falling asleep at a nearby gas station with a 13 year old white girl in the backseat. She was later put into handcuffs and was taken into Child Protective Services.  The story was reported by KHOU originally and picked up by many other media outlets.

 One of the men was apparently her dance instructor and a friend of the instructor. The guys had permission to take the little girl with them to Texas to meet with a hip hop artists and record a dance video. The parents gave the instructors documents signed by them to let them know that they are aware that they have special permission, but the Houston police didn’t believe this.

Around the world, all kinds of crimes are committed every day, whether it’s murder or burglary or simply just vandalism. But the most common crime is actually committed by the police themselves: racial profiling.

Racial profiling is the targeting of people due to their race or ethnicity. This means selectively investigating individuals or enforcing laws based on people’s skin color or other markers. This also means losing the trust among the people that the police are supposed to protect and serve.

These racial profiles creates destructive legal problems and negative attitudes for individuals, families, communities, as well as their surroundings. Policies which allow or encourage racial profiling also allow detentions, deportations, raids, and other actions. Since those in law enforcement use racial profiling to make arrests or as an excuse to hassle anyone of color, civilians like George Zimmerman feel justified in their aggressive pursuit of anyone they don’t like the “look” of, like Trayvon Martin.

During an interview on CNN, the reporter asked the two men who were “detained” without charges in Texas, “Do you think it would have been different if she had been black or you had been white?” the instructor quickly responded, “Yes. Absolutely. 100 percent absolutely.”

But this is not a strictly Southern problem. The Stop-and-Frisk Campaign of New York State, which is a law in which a police officer suspects an individual of possessing a concealed weapon or other contraband (like drugs), they can stop and search people without arresting them or charging them with a crime.  They can demand ID from people for no reason at all.

The NYPD and the Stop-and-Frisk law and its practices only increase community concerns over racial profiling with privacy rights and illegal stops.The majority of the reports coming from this law are mostly blacks or Latinos, while the officers are usually white.

Since 9/11, new forms of racial profiling have affected numerous people of color in the USA as well as Muslims, Arab, and South Asian community members. Despite all the progress we have made in the last fifty years, since the Civil Rights movement, racial profiling continues to be a common and shocking discrimination across the United States.