Recent studies indicate that although racial equality is promoted greatly nowadays, there is still a great deal of discrimination among and towards different racial factions in society (Alex, 1969; Nevels, 2007; Lever, 2007). Such studies postulate that society deems colour and background to be a significant factor in classifying people within their communities, confirming the existence of racial discrimination and exploring the extent of how it is shown. Beginning with an overview of race and some of the issues associated with racial profiling and discrimination, this essay will draw on the work of scholars who have studied the topic in detail as well as articles and reports from many different sources, and argue that racial profiling greatly impacts the lives of coloured people and their sense of belonging in their communities.
Race is a major way in which people identify each other. Race was used as a term to relate to other people and to allow people to define themselves in relation to these other people (Erica Howard 2010, pp. 64). The term referred to lineage and ancestry but over time, as the biological distinction between races was further investigated it became linked to a hierarchy between the races. This resulted in some races being considered superior to others. This also led to biased and stereotypical views to be created over time on different races and that is how these people are identified in society. It is evident that people will associate criminality and violence with coloured people unintentionally due to the biased views that have been created about these people. There have been reports of calls made to the police when no threat was present. For example, many calls to authorities about a suspicious person don’t really involve any suspicious activity but only a person of colour walking down the street (Yan, 2018). This wastes resources and the time of officers who could be of more help in other places where they would actually be able to help society.
‘Racial profiling is a form of racial bias whereby citizens are stopped, questioned, searched, or even arrested on the basis of their minority status per se rather than due to a demonstrated, elevated risk of lawbreaking’ (Olsen, 2005, pp. 24). Recent statistics show that three times more black people were prosecuted and sentenced in comparison to white people according to the Equality and Human Rights Commissions race reports (2018). This impacts people of different race greatly as there is mental health issues caused by the constant distrust and suspicion from society and these could lead to long term health issues. It doesn’t have to be major acts of discrimination that cause this, it can be the little things like being treated with less courtesy than others, getting less respect than others or receiving poorer service at restaurants or stores. One of these health issues involves the rapid development of coronary heart disease in those people who frequently experience racial discrimination. It has also been found that pregnant women who have reported experiencing racism, give birth to babies who are lower in birth weight (Martin, 2017).
The consistency of this discrimination and profiling has also led to distrust between different racial factions and authorities. Racial profiling is ingrained in the methods used to help the police to catch criminals and thus it is difficult for them to avoid engagement with people of different racial backgrounds. The frequency of engagement between the police and African Americans exposes them not only to the violence of ongoing police surveillance, contact, and social control but also to the violence of serious bodily injury and death (Carbado, 2017 pp. 125). This is also evident in reports from the Equality and Human Rights Commission which indicate that crime against coloured people from different racial backgrounds is very high in comparison to a white person. It is also clear that although people of different race may be perceived as criminals and violent, they are the victims of hate crimes and injustice.
To conclude, it can be said that racial discrimination and racial profiling do indeed have a massive impact on the lives of people from different racial backgrounds. There are mental implications as well as physical ones from the constant suspicion and abuse that is received. It can also be said that although there are many things that can be used to identify a person, the main thing would be there race as it is a predominant factor in what a person can be identified as, and it gives each person a sense of belonging. Although race allows a person to belong within groups of people of the same race, it is shown through this paper that it is difficult to belong and be integrated into a society where you are a part of a racial minority.
- Alex, N., (1969), Black in Blue: A Study of the Negro Policeman, Appleton, Crofts, Century, New York, NY.
- Nevels, CS 2007, Lynching to Belong: Claiming Whiteness through Racial Violence, Texas A&M University Press, College Station. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [6 December 2019].
- Lever, A. 2011, ‘Treating People as Equals: Ethical Objections to Racial Profiling and the Composition of Juries’, The Journal of Ethics, vol. 15, no. 1-2, pp. 61-78.
- Howard, E, & Howard, E 2009, The EU Race Directive: Developing the Protection Against Racial Discrimination Within the EU, Routledge, Florence. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [6 December 2019].
- L Song Richardson, ‘Systemic Triage: Implicit Racial Bias in the Criminal Courtroom’ (2017) 126 Yale L J 862
- Erin Olsen, Racial Profiling, 29 LawNow  (2005).
- Holly Yan, ‘This is why everyday racial profiling is so dangerous’ CNN [May 11, 2018].
- Vito, A., Grossi, E. and Higgins, G. (2018), ‘Analyzing racial profiling from traffic searches: Using focal concerns theory and propensity score matching’, Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 41 No. 6, pp. 721-733. https://doi-org.jproxy.nuim.ie/10.1108/PIJPSM-06-2017-0081
- Enar-eu.org. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.enar-eu.org/IMG/pdf/shadow_report_key_findings_final.pdf [Accessed 1 Dec. 2019].
- Martin, M. (2017). NPR Choice page. [online] Npr.org. Available at: https://www.npr.org/2017/10/28/560444290/racism-is-literally-bad-for-your-health?t=1575681839316 [Accessed 7 Dec. 2019].
- Devon W Carbado, ‘From Stopping Black People to Killing Black People: The Fourth Amendment Pathways to Police Violence’ (2017) 105 Calif L Rev pp. 125
- Equalityhumanrights.com. (2019). Race report statistics | Equality and Human Rights Commission. [online] Available at: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/race-report-statistics [Accessed 8 Dec. 2019].