Black or White
Picture this hypothetical situation: A black man and a white man both driving during the day time. The white man is driving directly in front of the black man at 72 mph, clearly speeding, while the black man is driving at 46 mph, both in a 45 mph speed limit zone. Sirens begin to blare as the red and blue lights emerge from the side of the road. The black man, relieved that someone is going to finally stop this maniac driver in front of him, pulls over the side of the road, to allow the police officer to pass him. To his surprise, the light skinned police officer stops behind his car, as the white man swerves off into the distance. The police officer slowly strides up to the window of the black man s car and shines a flashlight right in his eye. Going 46 in a 45 clearly speeding, he says, What if there were children around?
But but that man in front of me did you The black man is immediately cut off by the police officer.
Are you arguing with me?
No, sir. I was just pointing out that that man in front of me was going way faster
Are you saying that I am wrong?
I am just saying that
Now that is incredibly unfair. It would be nice to say that this hypothetical situation is completely hypothetical, but I then I would be lying. This is labeled as racial profiling which is most commonly known as the discriminatory practice by police of associating one race with certain stereotypes unfairly. Racial profiling occurs repeatedly among police, schools, and media and varies with each situation. In police racial profiling, individual officers act on racial stereotypes against racial minorities, most prominently African Americans. For example, blacks, are commonly depicted as the black drug abuser, the black drug dealer, the black criminal, the black welfare cheat, obviously all associated with disobedience of the law. The debate comes into play, when people say that most drug dealers happen to be black, or most criminals happen to be black, and therefore there is no racial profiling involved.
The truth is, is although blacks are portrayed to be the usual culprit, statistically the percent of drug addicts and criminals and welfare cheats are not minority groups. Studies find that more than half of the heroin addicts admitted were white as well as 60 percent of monthly cocaine users. Not to mention that 77 percent of regular marijuana users are white as well. Then, one might ask, why do we always associate crime and bad qualities with African Americans? The biggest perpetrator of racial profiling is in fact not police officers, but actually the media. The coverage of crime in the media portrays crime as being violent, and criminals as nonwhite. Television viewers are so accustomed to seeing African-American crime suspects on the news, that even when the race is not mentioned, viewers automatically assume the criminal is black. Not only that, but Michael Kurtz acknowledged the public policy implications of the study when he stated that “support for punitive law-enforcement policies was highest when the stories featured black suspects or provided no information about race and was lowest when the suspects were white.” Kurtz also found that although African-Americans make up only 29 percent of the poor and homeless in America, they represent 62 percent of the image of the homeless and poor in magazines, newspaper, and television.
To me this evidence is extremely disgusting and irritating, yet not at all surprising. I think that even as children, we are raised to associate certain qualities with certain groups of people. It is a fact that the news media portrays African-Americans and Latinos more negatively because they are minorities. The idea that media purposely portrays groups of people unfairly really bothers me. Although America is supposed to be a racially equal country, we have completely misguided and false ideas about different races because we, as a country, are puppets, as we believe whatever the media tells us to believe and we react however the media tells us to react.
This practice of “racial profiling” is not some fantastical myth. In fact, in the case of State vs. Soto, a New Jersey court found that a state-condoned policy of racial profiling was in operation on the New Jersey Turnpike. Blacks make up 46.2 percent of people stopped by the state police in southern New Jersey, even though they constitute only 13.5 percent of drivers in that area. In Maryland — another I-95 corridor state — the police were found to be stopping blacks 75 percent of the time, though they made up only 17.5 percent of motorists. The belief that blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be found with illegal imports is false. Statistical evidence directly contradicts that assumption. According to the U.S. Justice Department, blacks made up 38.4 percent of drug arrests nationwide in 1996. In Maryland, blacks and whites were found with drugs in their vehicles at equal rates — about 28 percent. It is a true shame that the police assume the color of your skin makes you suspect or even makes you guilty.
With the increased number of allegations that police officers use racial profiling and stereotypes in order to determine which motorists to pull over, state legislatures are attempting to pass laws that will accumulate statistics to show what groups of people are in fact stopped for traffic violations. Some people think that this will just complicate things. Blacks feel that it is the only way to stop police departments from getting away with a problem that does exist. However, will this mean that whites will get stopped instead, just because a police officer doesn t want to be accused of racial profiling? A white woman being stopped for a traffic violation could then claim she was only being stopped because the police officer is not allowed to stop an African-American. However, without the gathering of statistics, we allow racial profiling to continue by forcing us to stop denying that it exists.
Now that we have discussed what is known as bad racial profiling, I want you to picture another hypothetical scenario : Two twenty-year-old young women are applying for the same job. One is black and the other is white. Both are qualified. However, the black woman graduated from a state university with no prior job experience, while the white woman has intern experience from Yale. The white woman, obviously better qualified should get the job, according to the employer; however, he must hire a black person in order to fulfill the quota of minorities in his agency in accordance with the federal law. The black woman, less qualified, then gets the job.
That, too, is incredibly unfair. It would be nice to say that that situation is also strictly hypothetical, however, things like that occur regularly. This too is labeled as racial profiling; however, it is labeled as good racial profiling because it does not discriminate against minorities. But, is this really good? This is not fair to the white woman, and although she is in the majority, she is still being discriminated against due to the color of her skin. Jobs, colleges, and even death row, makes sure that they fulfill a certain quota for the number of blacks and whites they have. Could you imagine being put to death before someone else just to fill a certain quota make the death penalty look racially equal? That is absolutely ridiculous.
Racial profiling occurs every day in every state with all sorts of people. Whether it be the media or the police or an employment agency or a college, it is not right and it is extremely unfair. In an ideal world, people would not make decisions based on skin color, but America is not nearly perfect, or ideal. However, I do think we need to make changes in order to solve this problem, yet I have solution. Until everyone can look at everyone else as absolute equals, both good and bad racial profiling will continue to occur. Be aware of it, but don t hold your breath waiting for it to disintegrate. It took hundreds of years for slavery to be abolished, another hundred for blacks to be considered people, and who knows how many for all people of all races to be able to look at one another without seeing color first.