Racial profiling is a social issue that touches all society assets in the world. Many scholars, academic stakeholders and the communities have different definitions, hence, different understanding, perception and response to this social issue vary with the concern community, be it scholars or not. Racial profiling is a form of discrimination where race, color or cultural background of people is the basis of determining how and who to enforce law. This essay focuses on different definitions and understanding of racial profiling among different stakeholders such as scholars, communities and nations. Canada is used as case study to illustrate this practice. It also focuses on an argumentative position regarding the practice of racial profiling.
Scholars and other observers have different definitions, that at the end of it mean similar understanding. For Glover (2009), racial profiling is the practice of targeting individuals on the basis of color and tribal grouping for security interdictions, detention or any other desperate act. This means the practice relies on stereotyping attitude that certain group engage in unlawful practices. To a considerable extent, this practice violates the constitution of the people, because law enforcers target particular race or ethnic community in traffic stop over and searches unjustly. According to Muffler (2006), racial profiling is any action initiated by police that relies basically on race, ethnic, or national origin and not the character of a person or information that guide the police identify individuals to have engaged in crime. However much it is practiced, the observance of this issue is illegal and controversial in most jurisdictions.
Racial Profiling in Canada
In Canada, studies have found evidence of racial profiling practice. Withrow (2011) note that racial profiling is shown in the act of stopping and searching blacks at a higher frequency than other races. Blacks are also treated with less respect as compared to others whenever they are stopped for search, arrest or subject of unwarranted force. Moreover, more of those detained in custody are blacks, and in the most extreme cases they are shot, tortured or killed because of this ill racial perception, hence this act leading to a serious threat to the black race in Canada. The police and other law enforcers have negative attitudes towards blacks because of stereotyping that police and other groups in the community hold against the black. Glover (2009) notes that review of race relation of the metropolitan Toronto police force found evidence of culture of race biasness and value system with Toronto police force. In the case study, more than 70 per cent of visible minority group (black) and less than 50 percent of the white people questioned by the police reported a negative perception. Most claimed that they had been treated on to racial classification by police officers in the event of investigation. In the book Race and racialization, Das (2007) notes, “African Canadian youth reported that police stop attributed primarily to the color of their skin is a common occurrence.”
Canadian media extensively contribute to stereotyping and profiling that targeted racialized groups by linking them with violence. Tator and Henry (2006), give evidence of the moral horror and stereotyping against the Black. The practice was continued by various media regarding “Just Desserts” massive killing in Toronto. This act seemed to condone the consequent racial discrimination against Black Jamaican men with assumption that there was a relation between Black complexion and criminology. This incident led the Canadian government to introducing amendments to the Immigration Act, 1995. The bill also removed the right of permanent residence that appealed expulsion orders based on criminal acts.
The Canadian media also influence the profiling of Arabs, Muslims and Asians. Studies show how the media has portrayed these groups as inherently violent. For example, Withrow (2011) presents a response of an American perception on Arabs; say, “Arabs are commonly depicted as fanatical, irrational, immoral, untrustworthy, and incorrigible barbarians bent on destroying peace.” The case study further cites a 1976 issue of Harpers Magazine based in America that states: "Arabs are religious fanatics devoted to a non-Western warrior religion. Their bequests to us include the words ‘assassin’ and ‘jihad’ … the Arab draws his blade with gusto, and when he is finished butchering he is always that much closer to Allah.” According to Canadians therefore, Arabs are perceived, through American media as well as Canadian sources, as terrorists. Collum (2010) says that on June 14, 2003, the Globe and Mail services printed a cartoon honoring Father's Day. The cartoon depicted an Arab man with conventional facial appearance cheerfully receiving a belt of explosives from a young man. Literary, drawing a cartoon in shape of Arab people outlook is a sign of racial discrimination.
To further show the evidence of profiling, Black Canadians underwent some of the most egregious experience of racial profiling. In participating in the war against drugs between 1986 and 1992, police forces intensified patrol to poor areas of Ontario, where the Black lived in large population (Glover, 2009). This shows that black were suspected to be drug dealers. Finally, this led to imprisoning of Blacks, although lack of evidence that suggested that Canadian Black community participated in use or benefited from drugs. In addition, Rice and White (2010) note that perceived continuation of Black profile through the large number of imprisoning the black sped the stereotyping which existed that young Black males involve in drug associated offenses and in turn contribute to more obvious racial profiling. Consequently, the profile became easily based that any Black male regardless of age, or location was perceived as posing threat.
In addition to profiling of Blacks, Arabs and Muslims also receive most of media critic attention and inspection. Other racialized communities that were stigmatized are South Asians and Aboriginals. Tator and Henry (2006) notes that, “in its yearly report, the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada (CISC) provide reports that link South Asians to the drug trafficking scenes between Vancouver and Alberta”. This report further showed the results of the augmented police search, which eventually led to complaints among the racialized group. In the report, Aboriginals, South Americans and Caribbean groups are mentioned together with their tendency of how they committed some particular types of crimes.
Stakeholders’ Understanding of Racial Profiling
Scholars, community stakeholders and interest groups focus on this eminent of racial profiling existence to have originated from the time during slavery. In 1693, the Philadelphia court officials legalized a scrupulous Negro stopping, searching and detaining, whether freed or slaved, seen to be wandering aimlessly along the city streets (Daniels (2002). This prejudiced practice persisted throughout the Jim Crow period, and evidenced in the twenty-first century. Racial profiling is common among United States’ cities. However, according to Glover (2009), supreme law court of the United States refuse racial profiling because it is against the constitution and that all people should enjoy equal rights as defined in the law.
Different definitions and understanding for racial profiling is essential for this study because it is a social issue that raises brows among community of nations. According to Collum (2010), profiling consist of decisions to detain a person for further investigation or inspection only on the basis of racial and ethnic classification. Moreover, profiling consists of the use of race or ethnic origin among other factors to enforce law for presumed illegal behavior. In Canada, this practice has been advocated in order to carry out investigations, but not as the last resort for deciding to pass prove of guilt during judgment, or even to deny entry into Canada.
Community Reports on Racial Profiling
Studies show that several cases that depict racial discrimination happen yearly. Without exception of a nation or culture or academic dynamism, racial profiling is the order of the day in most regions of the world. Macleod (2014) presents a South African case where in learning institutions, students lobby to have race classification in the application forms removed. The students argued that the requirements in the form claim racial profiling, and that it thwarts learners who do not belong to the profile from further studies. Further, the case shows that an estimate of 11 percent of black youths of ages between 18 and 24 joins university education each year. This number was small compared to those of other races, and so worried those who lobby for equal education. Macleod (2014) quotes an equal educationist say, “We know the facts that the majority of black people in this country are still suffering under terrible conditions, whether it is living or socio-economic conditions, as well as educational inequality.” Therefore, the University of Cape Town is putting into consideration to eliminate racial admission policy. It is also found in the case study that in Africa majority of the professional fraternity are white and majority of the well established and employing businesses are non-African owned. Therefore, to achieve equality through the constitution and its leaders, whether it is white or black, racial factor be articulated favorably to all in the constitution.
However, racial profiling is still a common and egregious practice some parts of the United States. This makes democracy of American unjustifiable and offends the promise of racial equality. Racial biasness and policing happens during law enforcement, and especially inappropriate consideration of racial or ethnic class in deciding the capacity to intervene in enforcing law. Withrow (2011) says, “Racial profiling on ethnic groups include: African Americans, Hispanic and Latinos that resulted to illegal immigration, Chinese Americans who were spies, and Arap and Muslim terrorists.”
Arguments Regarding Racial Profiling
Racial profiling is an observance which present immense jeopardy to the primary doctrine of most Constitutions. Unfortunately, during investigations and enforcements, racial profiling lead enforcers and police to target people based on race or color. This alienates some group of people in different communities from observing the principle of law, hence hinder society policing effort (Das, 2007). Nevertheless, if this remains the order of the day, it will cause the practice of law enforcement losing credibility and trust among the people they are mandated to defend and serve the requirement of the constitution.
Racial profiling is unproven policing strategy effective to fight crime and terrorism. This is because blameless persons are mistakenly targeted, arrested and questioned on criminal related offenses (Withrow, 2011). Racial profiling also promotes suspicion about enforcing law and the trial procedure amid members of racialized communities who are affected negatively by racial profiling. This, therefore, decrease the chances of citizen teamwork with lawful investigations.
When enforcing law, racial profile is not only wrong but also ineffective in determining rehabilitating offenders to help boost nation building. The basis of race in enforcing law carries detrimental racial stereotypes that in the long run harm the rich and diverse democracy of people. It also considerably impairs human efforts that work to maintain fairness and justice in society. Tator and Henry (2006) argue it is not constitutional to practice racial profiling, most federal governments emphatically declare the practice; it is notwithstanding unenviable, erroneous, fruitless, and detrimental especially to people’s rich and diverse democracy. Nevertheless, Collum (2010) point out that large amount and enough evidence collected at the national and local levels confirm that racial profiling still exist. He notes, “Racial profiling is often encouraged by misguided federal programs and policies that incentivize law enforcement authorities to engage in the practice.”
Solving the racial profiling problem successfully require institutions to be rightfully placed, not only among law and order departments but also within communities. Major threat to this is that partnerships may not succeed in reducing the problem in places where there are no community groupings, unlike in Philadelphia. Some places face challenge of conflict between the public and the police or towards other section of the group of people. If divisions exist it is very rigid to agree with the authenticity of lawsuits or decision made in a joint forum. Glover (2009) suggests that bringing diverse groups jointly in view of solving problems encourage institutions which cooperate to ease wrangles. In Canada, civilian complain over review boards, that they were instituted to be oversight bodies that aim at common success. Whereas some are structured as internal or external boards, some have become independent hence cooperate with police to enhance racial profiling. In addition, Muffler (2006) states that in some other states like Phoenix, members of the public have been invited to give opinion on promotion and review boards, in order to work towards providing input and information to the public.
Public interest and legal advocacy community have strong relationships to the community more than those that control racial profile lawsuits. The concern is that, to some extent, these groups may not satisfactorily stand for the community. Moreover, the process of legal action itself creates relationship hierarchies which push away the Justice Department. Glover (2009) suggests that in control of legal action, revealing consultation to the court during decision will enable the groups provide timely information on meetings together with the community. On the other hand, collaboration and teamwork is significant duty that the community should play. This is because it gives people opportunities to participate in the process of problem-solving.
In conclusion, racial profiling is problem based on individual that emerge from social issues and cannot be solved through law enforcement agency. Though there are a lot of studies about this issue, aggregate data do not reveal if racial profiling practices are in place (or not). Therefore, a number of ways to solve the problem associated with the racial profiling in Canada are suggested in scholarly articles and the views from diverse communities. One of them is reminding police officers of their responsibility to honor their vow to respect humanity and upholding the constitution. The governments should also guarantee the police officers to function within law and with desirable ethics and uprightness. Officers and their supervisors should be held accountable on the way they treat citizens with respect to law, respect, and courtesy in all manner of relations. Various community concerns should be addressed openly and with dignity.
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