Countries worldwide face numerous social problems which have a negative impact on their citizens and one of the most topical issues today is racial discrimination. Although there are many forms of discrimination, some of them raise more concerns among the wider public than others, and racial profiling is one of them. Specifically, the idea of racial profiling refers to a practice of utilizing the race or ethnicity of a person as the sole reason to suspect them of committing a crime (Harris 10). Nevertheless, despite the fact that racial profiling is prohibited in many countries, police officers still continue to engage in it on multiple occasions. As a result, there is still a discussion in society about the advantages and disadvantages of racial profiling and the possible approaches to it. Essentially, one group of people states racial profiling is controversial but necessary, while others believe that it must not be utilized under any circumstances. Although the article “On the Thin Line Between Law and Prejudice” postulates that outlawing racial profiling may not be practical, the use of such a procedure can only lead to negative outcomes.
The first negative result of the application of racial profiling is that it contradicts the notion of procedural justice and thus reduces the trust and fosters anger towards the police in communities. The practice of profiling is inherently discriminatory towards people of a race or ethnicity and even religion. Subsequently, it promotes the idea that individuals of a certain descent are not as equal before the law as others. As a result, it is natural to expect that such people will not have the same level of trust for the polices and other law enforcement agencies. In other words, the instances of racial profiling will strengthen the view of the affected groups that they are being mistreated by the government and will undermine their faith in procedural justice. Moreover, profiling and other forms of discrimination may actually incentivize them to protect themselves from the law enforcement agencies, which they may consider hostile and retaliate. Thus, the police will have to work in a more difficult situation where they will be despised by certain ethnic groups of citizens and will have strained relationships with them.
Another reason why racial profiling is unacceptable is that it goes against basic human rights. The principles of tolerance and non-discrimination promoted by the United Nations imply that no individual must face any type of mistreatment based on their faith, skin color, or ethnicity (“USOSCE”). At the same time, racial profiling violates such a notion since it relies on the idea of discriminating against people based on their immutable characteristics. Moreover, racial profiling is a practice that is utilized by governments and not terrorist or extremist organizations. Essentially, racial profiling is state-sanctioned discrimination that is not banned by many countries worldwide. Additionally, the countries which officially prohibit racial discrimination still frequently fail to prevent it from taking place. As a result, the use of racial profiling constitutes leads to continuous violations of the human rights promoted by the UN and governments around the world. Racial profiling is not different from any other discriminatory and human-right violating practice, be it violence against the LGBTQ community or persecution of religious minorities.
The supporters of the use of racial profiling may disagree and state the practice, despite its divisiveness, yields effective results, yet such a statement is untrue. In fact, racial profiling has been demonstrated to be largely ineffective in identifying perpetrators and offenders. Essentially, racial profiling, despite being used extensively for a long period of time, has not been proven to deliver any positive results. For instance, according to research, the agencies which employed racial profiling had lower rates of searches that succeeded in finding contraband than those which did not engage in racial profiling (Harris 9). In other words, the agencies which decided to target racial minorities such as Arabs and African-Americans were less successful than those who did not use race and ethnicity as the defining factor. Studies also show that race and ethnicity are poor predictors of criminal behavior, and it is impossible to determine that a certain person is an offender simply judging by their race. Thus, the use of racial profiling can be considered not only discriminatory but also quite ineffective and therefore unnecessary.
Despite the fact that racial profiling is ineffective, law enforcement agencies continue to practice it, which leads to other negative outcomes, including the waste of valuable resources and missed opportunities. When the police focus all of their actions on ineffective interventions such as racial profiling, they not only fail to produce any significant results but also spend resources in vain. In order to conduct racial profiling, a team of professionals is needed who will carry out searches and other activities. Moreover, all the procedures involved in racial profiling take a considerable period of time. Thus, law enforcement officers allocate their time and efforts to procedures that do not lead to any considerable results. Instead of continuing using racial profiling, the police can engage in a practice that actually has been proven to show their effectiveness. One such practice is predictive policing, which involves patrolling a certain neighborhood or area with a high level of criminal activities (Baron). Therefore, there are actually proper alternatives which nevertheless are often ignored by law enforcement agencies that decide to continue using profiling despite its ineffectiveness.
It is also important to mention a topic which is often becomes disregarded, namely, white privilege and how it is reinforced through the practices such as racial profiling. White privilege refers to the idea that the Caucasian people have an advantage in society in which they dominate, which leads to unjust and unfair treatment of minorities (Paradkar). It is common knowledge that racial profiling involves targeting solely racial and ethnic minorities. For instance, African Americans often get subject to racial profiling because law enforcement agencies consider them to be prone to committing drug-related crimes, including smuggling contraband (Harris 10). Similarly, in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the law enforcement agencies began to subject Arabs to unsubstantiated searches simply due to their ethnicity (Harris 10). It is clear that the assumptions which fuel the use of racial profiling are targeted against minorities who become victims of discrimination. At the same time, when the police discriminate against African Americans and Arabs, they actually perpetuate the white privilege. Thus, Caucasian people have more freedoms and rights in society because they do not face racial profiling.
Finally, the practice of racial profiling also has a direct negative impact on the lives of people who gets subject to it. Essentially, when law enforcement agencies decide to use racial profiling, the members of the targeted groups can encounter both physical and mental suffering. For instance, in Australia, police officers broke the fingers of a 13 years old teenager of African descent because they considered him a criminal simply due to his skin color (“On the Thin Line”). Despite the fact that the teenager was not charged with any crime, the police refused to compensate them for the harm they inflicted on the person. Such cases are not rare since when racial profiling is not prohibited, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to engage in it, which leads to many unfortunate outcomes. While it is true that police officers protect communities, they must not do it at the expense of the rights, freedoms, and lives of minorities.
The use of racial profiling must be outlawed because it causes many negative effects to occur and promotes the idea of considering ethnic minorities second-class citizens. First of all, the use of racial profiling alienates the targeted ethnic groups who eventually lose trust in the law enforcement agencies and governments and can become militant towards police officers. Racial profiling is also a discriminatory practice which is completely against the basic human rights established by the UN and protected by the constitutions of the majority of countries worldwide. Moreover, racial profiling is also ineffective and causes agencies to waste considerable resources which otherwise could be spent on proper interventions. Additionally, racial profiling reinforces social problems such as white privilege by discriminating against minorities such as African Americans and Arabs. Finally, racial profiling directly impacts the lives of innocent people who suffer due to mistreatment on the part of law enforcement agencies.
“On the Thin Line Between Law and Prejudice.” The Age, Web.
“USOSCE on Tolerance and Non-discrimination including Combating Racism, Xenophobia, Discrimination, Anti-Semitism, and Discrimination Against Muslims.” Humanrights.gov, Web.
Baron, Ethan. “Predictive Policing AI Takes on Crime.” East Bay Times, Web.
Harris, David. “Flying While Arab: Lessons from the Racial Profiling Controversy.” Civil Rights Journal, 2002, 8–13, Web.
Paradkar, Shree. “Invisibility of White Privilege.” Toronto Star, Web.