The Issue Of Racial Profiling Within Modern Society

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In today’s modern society across the map of the United States of America, racial profiling is a major issue used by police officers generalizing humans based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion instead of their individual behavior. This is used as the basic discretion that someone is being suspicious and causes unlawful stops, searches, interrogations, identity checks and other tactics that can even result in being fatal. Police officers racially profile someone when they view them, meaning the way they look, who they are and simply where they are. The tactics these police officers use to make society a better one without crime is questionable, they are basing someone off of their appearances, this has come to be justifiable because of the authority they have been given even though it is clearly biased and harmful to those targeted as well as the impact they cause on the community. We see these types of patterns on a daily basis, and unfortunately, those targeted by racial profiling are singled out and are more prone to have police encounters that can be terrifying and demeaning.

Some politicians could argue that police officers are just using discretion, they have reasonable doubt, which is proof required to validate a criminal conviction, but is reasonable doubt enough to racially profile someone, because of the way they look? To convict someone of a crime based on their appearance and because they fit the description is not enough proof to validate any type of conviction, however, because of reasonable doubt, officers do not have the right to arrest anyone but they do have the right to detain someone. Now that they have detained this individual person, this is where the harassment comes to be, like a type of hidden agenda.

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You will be asked relevant and irrelevant information, relevant information such as, what is your name? When is your birthday? Where do you live? how old are you? and etc, however in the course of doing this, the officer will ask you irrelevant questions such as why are you here? Do you know anyone? Are you supposed to be here? and etc. All this comes to play little by little and the media outlets have been doing a great job to show this. As a criminology major and being part of a minority group, I stand convinced that racial profiling is a big issue in the criminal justice system because I have seen lots of videos, read articles and have discussed in class on these specific topics. It is horrifying, thinking that because of my skin color and the way I look, that I could someday face this myself with a police officer who not only feels like he or she has the need to humiliate me but also take my life because of any type of movement I have made, it is a sad truth. As much as most of us would like to believe that not all cops are like this, most cops just ruin the reputation for the good cops, I have had encounters, where I’ve had to deal with officers and they, were genuinely very nice and did care about my safety and stood to serve their purpose, but I have also seen officers, who take their authority for granted and use excessive force and racially profile and dehumanize these individuals because of their appearances. Individuals who are falsely accused of crimes that they have not committed and also treated very unfairly because of the officer’s fear of his or her own life.

Background Information

Ranjana Natarajan who is a clinical professor and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at The University of Texas School of Law stated that “Profiling undermines public safety and strains police-community trust. When law enforcement officers target residents based on race, religion or national origin rather than behavior, crime-fighting is less effective and community distrust of police grows.” Natarajan who is a director of civil rights seems to clearly show how

Many people are affected by this on a daily basis. You don’t necessarily need to have an encounter with an officer to know that you are being racial profiled when your community already knows and has a great fear of going through that same situation, the people being hurt by this issue are innocent people whose lives are at stake because a lot of officers feel the need to reach for their guns instead of using other alternatives that I am sure they were taught in training such as using their baton and their taser, but even then when they use their weapons, they are too excessive, as well as with their bare arms, in the heat of passion, officers act out very unprofessionally and the media and news has portrayed that quite efficiently. For example, the Case of Mr.Okobi an African American Male who was encountered by five police officers was killed when two deputies fired their tasers resulting in a total of four charges between them, in California, a taser is not defined as lethal force, which is correct, but, John Burris, a Lawyer for Mr.Okobis family questioned why they used force on Mr.Okobi when clearly he was not committing any type of crime. According to the article, “Black Man’s Fatal Encounter With Police Strikes Close to Home in Silicon Valley” by John Eligon, stated that Mr.Okobi was shouting, “What did I do,’” Mr. Burris said. “He ultimately gets away from that. He’s running. He looks like he’s running for his life.” Another case involving Katie McCrary, a black woman who was shown in a footage being beaten by a white officer who “pulled out his baton and 'repeatedly struck Ms. McCrary across her legs, her arms, her back and once in the head, according to Boston,” in the article “Georgia officer charged with beating woman with his baton” by Minyvonee Burke. Lastly, another case involving Jacob Angelo Servin, who was beaten in a California jail while deputies yelled racist comments to him, Servin stated in the following

Instagram post with gruesome photos, “They left me to die with my face disfigured a broken nose, lacerations in my face and head.' All these cases are recent and it involves people of color, these cases just give us an insight of what happens on a daily basis and that these behaviors do exist, this is a big factor that needs to be taken care of, and it only occurs because these people are being racially profiled instead of seeking the right form to control the situation, the main job of an officer is to enforce the law and control a situation, not to make it worse and harm an innocent civilian, this comes to show how social inequality is connected to this social issue because of the differential treatment between police and judicial systems among others.

Theoretical Background

Many sociological theories have showed us what causes racial profiling and how society plays a role in it. Some theories have made it clear how human interactions operate a state of conflict. On television, media outlets, and even on certain occasions, we see all the racial profiling people go through on the daily basis, people of color being charged with crimes they didn’t commit, people of color dying on a daily basis over things that could have been handled diffrently, and also the mistreatment they go through. These types of incidents portrayed adverts that these are common incidents and they have unfortunately become normal for the society, and it gets out of control fairly easy.

In Karl Marx’s conflict theory, he focuses on the inequalities of different groups in a society. This means society is viewed as a warfare ground in which will continue to cause conflict and generate social change. Since racial profiling is common in minorities done by police officers, a conflict will arise between these two roles that are played in society. This begins when officers view someone based on their appearance, instead of their actions in society. Some politicians have portrayed minorities to be the worst part of society, that people of color are to be feared, or that they don’t belong in certain areas, this makes people of color to be easily targeted on a daily basis and undergo racial profiling, and it also shows how class structures and inequalities challenge the way the criminal justice system is set up, instead officers enforcing the law the right way, they take advantage of their authority by strippping all rights of the person being targeted.

In symbolic interactionism, George Herbert Mead believed that the development of an individual was a social process as were the meanings individuals assigned things. Herbert Bloomer who continued Mead's work broke it down into three tenets, the first being that we act based on the meaning we gave something, this means that officers view minorities or people of color based on their appearance and their skin type, so they will continue to be an easy target for racial profiling and harras them. The second tenet is that we give meanings based on our social interactions, this means that minorities will constantly live in a state of fear because the police officers are quite content with doing their job and enforcing the law harshly on them, so unfortunately they will continue to be racially profiled. The third tenet is that the meaning we give something is not permanent, let's say for example, you being a minority decide to go into an upper class neighborhood and not listen to the misconceptions about cops, you are faced with a police officer into your ten minute walk, and you know you didn’t do anything wrong but the officer decides to detane you anyway, because of your encounter with that police offcer and the racial profiling, next time you will be more careful and pay attention in what neighborhood you are in, because there could possibly be no next time.

Both theories focus on the interaction between individuals and classes, the overall structure is based on perception. However, Conflict theory does show the tension between both groups and the force of social change, while symbolic interactionism is a micro-level theory on how meanings, orientations, and assumptions form motivations behind why officers racially profile minorities and why they do their actions such as excessive force, or irrelevant questions being asked while doing unlawful searches and interrogations.


There seems to be no solution for racial profiling because it is an idealogy that a race or ethnicity commited an offense, however, if officers woul look past the skin color and the appearance of the person, this would help limit the amount of racial profiling that goes around the society. Police officers should really focus on those communities that have people of different races and skin types, I feel like if they were open minded and genuinely observed how these people are, there would be less of unlaw stop and frisks, searches and interrogations, they would be able to see for themselves, that not just because a person looks like this, that another person alike that first person will do what they did. They should know that just because a person is a black, does not mean they are automatically a criminal, or that a brown person is automatically illegal, or that even a white person can’t commit a crime, just because your skin a certain color does not mean anything, yes the girl next to me could look like me, but we come from different ethical backgrounds, for example just because I grew up in impoverished community and had less does not mean I am not smart enough to do what she did and vise versa. Police officers need to change their attitudes towards these people and treat them how they would like to be treated, because if not, my people will continue to lose their lives, and these officers will walk away with paid leave, and there will be no peace within the community and tensions will become worse.


There is no reason for their to be racial profiling in the criminal justice system in general. Not only does it affect one but it affects all, we all pay taxes, and we feed these unlawful searches, stops and interrogations, we also have a constitution that officers must abide to and most of them don’t, if they continue to harass and do these things, all it will do is make them feared and unwanted and many more lives may be lost as well. Racial profiling should be taken very seriously and their should be some form of punishment for the officers commiting it, this will help decrease the fear of being a target, and will educate the officers in not doing it. Now the big question stands, “Will officers abide by the rules and genuinely look past skin color, or will they continue to enforce the law illegally and take more lives at the risk of their own?”

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