President Obama said, “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are probably very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens [sic] to me — at least before I was a senator.”
The critics of racial profiling declare that the police frequently detain motorists and pedestrians, because they are black or of another minority group. They argue that this practice is illegal and it doesn’t work. In contrast, supporters argue that profiling helps identify criminals and proactively thwarts crime.
Racial profiling has impacted black people for centuries. Even before the Civil War, black people who were not enslaved were detained based on their skin color and forced by slave patrols to produce freedom papers to verify their freedom. Nowadays, many black and Hispanic people are disproportionately and randomly pre-judged, stopped, questioned, searched and humiliated by the police, because of their race and ethnicity. After 9/11, Arabs and Muslims in America began experiencing increased levels of racial profiliepic2profiling when travelling through ports and airports. This was solely because the perpetrators of 9/11 were of Arab descent. Many were followed and their luggage was unjustly targeted, while facing scrutiny under the pretext of national security.
America’s minority families should not have to forewarn their sons about the reality that their dress and behavior, however innocuous, can prompt potentially fatal interactions with armed citizens or law enforcement officials. Americans should not be asked to modify their wardrobe, head-wear, facial hair or change their language and diction to prove that they are Americans. This is a problem that has reemerged after the tragic death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin.
Sadly, injustices will stretch far beyond a single jury decision or even several court cases. And so, I reflect upon this single truth… I don’t want to be judged, convicted and sentenced solely based upon how I look, where I live, who my parents are, how I walk or what I wear. Do you?