An Overview of The Impact of Racial Profiling in America

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About this sample


Words: 1090 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 23, 2018

Words: 1090|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 23, 2018

Racial profiling is a practice used by law enforcement which targets minorities for interrogation and searches without evidence of criminal activity and solely based on race. Many believe it disregards the American Constitution, especially the 4th and 14th amendments, and causes harm or even the death of innocent citizens. Others argue it is a valid law enforcement practice. Racial profiling is a pressing social issue because it is a violation of our constitutional rights and it disobeys the 4th and 14th amendments.

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The term was first used in 1999, when two white police officers in the state of New Jersey pulled over a van occupied by four passengers who were African American and Latino. During the questioning and searching of the van, the officers shot three of the four passengers, even though they were unarmed. Later that year “…the New Jersey state police became the first major law enforcement agency to admit to the stop and detention of disproportionate numbers of black men.” Although the use of the phrase started in the late 90’s, history has shown that police officers have always associated certain crimes with certain ethnic groups. “If the Irish immigrant was the thief of the 1880s, then the black man was the rapist of the 1950s, and the Arab is the terrorist of today.” (Witherbee Paragraph 2)

There have been many protests against racial profiling. Currently, one of the most prominent movements is the #BlackLivesMatter. The movement was started by three black women, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. After learning about the murder of Trayvon Martin, and that his killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable, these women decided to take a stand. Another major public outcry occurred in the state of Arizona against the Senate Bill 1070. On April 23, 2010, the governor of Arizona signed into law Senate Bill 1070 to prevent illegal immigration from Mexico into Arizona. Under the name “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act," law enforcement officials can check the immigration status of a person they have "reasonable suspicion" of being in the U.S. illegally. The only possible way to enforce this law is to racially profile people. An immigrant found without documentation would be arrested and deported. This law went into effect on July 29, 2010, and was viewed by citizens of Arizona as discriminatory and a violation of human rights. There were protests in over 70 cities in the United States, including outside of the White House in Washington D.C, where Congressman Luis Gutiérrez was arrested.

Racial profiling, as defined by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is,

“…when law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion.” Racial profiling is a violation of the freedoms and civil liberties the government cannot deny or restrict its people without due process. Police officers are denying citizens of their rights by unlawfully seizing them without due process. These actions also promote racism, and other discriminatory ideas, and is degrading towards people of color and of certain religions. The 4th amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures, search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law. The 14th amendment states no person is to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law." It also states no person could be denied equal protection of the laws. Racial profiling, therefore, goes against the 4th and 14th amendments.

There are those who believe that racial profiling is a legitimate practice which should be used in all neighborhoods. It is credited by some to have reclaimed crime-ridden areas and of benefit to all including minorities. The US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division stated in its "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies," issued June 2003:

"Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the President has emphasized that federal law enforcement personnel must use every legitimate tool to prevent future attacks, protect our Nation's borders, and deter those who would cause devastating harm to our Nation and its people... Given the incalculably high stakes involved in such investigations, however, federal law enforcement officers who are protecting national security or preventing catastrophic events (as well as airport security screeners) may consider race, ethnicity, and other relevant factors to the extent permitted by our laws and the Constitution. Similarly, because enforcement of the laws protecting the Nation's borders may necessarily involve a consideration of a person's alienage in certain circumstances, the use of race or ethnicity in such circumstances is properly governed by existing statutory and constitutional standards."

In theory, racial profiling is considered to be a useful and appropriate tool when applied in a lawful way, but it actually causes abuse and discrimination towards people of color. I believe that racial profiling is legally and morally wrong. After a person is profiled and detained because of his racial or religious appearance, he/she will now have a permanent criminal record. All because of an officer's prejudice and not because the individual actually committed a crime. As said by presidential candidate Marco Rubio, “If you are arrested, if you are a 19 year old, young minority male, African American or Hispanic, and you are arrested…you now have a record. That means you are now stigmatized, in the eyes of employers, in the eyes of your future.” This makes it harder for people of color to get jobs and live productive and successful lives. I believe it creates anger and a lack of trust that leads to hatred and violence.

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Racial profiling violates the 4th and 14th amendments of The Constitution of United States of America. Some people may see it is a valid method in law enforcement, but it only promotes racism and degrades people of color and diverse ethnicities. To prevent further use of it, we need to start administering consequences for officers who practice racial profiling, especially, in an unlawful and abusive manner. Racial profiling has a negative influence on society because it harms innocent people and allows racist people to act on their prejudices. Eventually, we can end racial profiling, but this may take a significant amount of time because it can be difficult to change human behavior. Why not simply follow what is written in the Constitution already and avoid any misinterpretation or abuse by never using racial profiling?

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An Overview of the Impact of Racial Profiling in America. (2018, Jun 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“An Overview of the Impact of Racial Profiling in America.” GradesFixer, 02 Jun. 2018,
An Overview of the Impact of Racial Profiling in America. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
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