Racial Profiling: Separating America
Racial Profiling: Separating America
In the past 65 years our country has gone through many changes. We have ended segregation between minorities and Whites. We have even elected an African American president. We have supported several African American Secretaries of State. However, our law enforcement still believes it is ok to judge a person by the color of his or her skin. What gives a police officer the right to pull over an African American based on what he is driving? Also having the idea that he is probably doing something illegal? Jesse Jackson calls this “Driving while Black, (DWB)” (Nelson, Paul, Block Jr. & Brown-Dean). Another issue is the preferred drugs of different races are being used against minorities because of harsher penalty for the same offense. Racial profiling should never be used. In this paper I will address the issues of harsher drug charges, “Driving while Black,” and carrying concealed weapons without a license.
In the Declaration of Independence that freed us from the tyranny of the English, it says that all men have “certain unalienable rights” that no one can take from us. We all share these rights as Americans. John Locke, a philosopher, said that all people have certain rights that no one can take from you. Some of these rights are “that men are naturally free and equal” (Tuckness). If we are all supposed to be treated as equals then racial profiling would never exist.
Our forefathers built our government wanting everything to be fair and equal, but the government goes against this by allowing police officers to racial profile. “Racial profiling occurs when a police officer stops, questions, arrests, and/or searches someone solely on the basis of the person’s race or ethnicity.”(Cleary). While most minority groups are subjected to the troubles of racial profiling, this paper will focus solely on the issues affecting African Americans. My effort in this paper is to persuade you to think that racial profiling is unjust and unequal.
Same Drug, Different Consequence?
One particular way that racial profiling happens is in the judiciary system of the government. Certain forms of the same drug have harsher penalties because of what state the drug is in. The drug cocaine is used in two different forms. White wealthier people use a powder form; Blacks use a rock form that is called crack. Powder cocaine “requires 100 times as much weight to trigger the same penalty as the crack form.” (The Effective National Drug Control Strategy1999) Before mandatory minimums were instituted on cocaine, Blacks usually had a 6% longer sentence than the average sentence of whites. Once the mandatory minimums were set the average sentence for blacks was 93% higher then whites.
Statistics also show that the black race has less users then the white race but 7 percent of all black men in prison are on drug charges while there is not even one percent of white people incarcerated for drugs. (The Effective National Drug Control Strategy1999) Another statistic said that 53.5 percent of all drug convictions were blacks. (Echolm) “Large disparities persist in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two races use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates.” (Echholm).
The use of crack or distributing crack caries a felony charge as well, so this makes it a lot harder for the prisoner to become a better citizen because it will make finding a job almost impossible so the once prisoner will be back on the streets doing the same thing again to make a living.
Another alarming reason why racial profiling is morally wrong is because blacks consist of 13 to 20 percent of drug offenders in the U.S. but are arrested almost 3 times more then whites (Fellner). A few reasons why this is the case is because of where the drug transactions occur. Almost all drug transactions that happen in the white race is usually behind closed doors. Many will do their transactions at their houses as well as businesses. For the African American race this happens on street corners and alleys in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Police use this as a reason for the statistics to be what they are. I could agree with this comment for the statistics to be what they are. But the police force should not pack in more police cars in these neighborhoods to arrest the street sellers, but need to spend more time in the suburbs for peculiar events that do happen with drug houses in the suburbs. They are both breaking the law and both should be prosecuted, even if it is harder to catch the suburban white kids that are selling and using drugs.
For the person that deals with the powder form of cocaine, the conviction usually only caries a misdemeanor charge. So that it is easier for this person to start over and become a better citizen and have a good job to support him/her. I believe that the lawmakers need to review their policies on this so that they get this right. The government wants us to believe that this is a country that treats every person equally without any prejudice, but then they make laws that hurt one race way more then any other race. This is not showing that we as a nation want every citizen to succeed in life. Therefore I believe that this is a moral issue in the government that needs to be reviewed to show that we still do believe in what the Declaration of Independence said.
“Driving While Black”
Another blatant way that racial profiling in the United States is what Jesse Jackson calls “DWB” or “Driving While Black.” In a pole that asked if you have ever felt that you were pulled over because of your race 38 percent of Blacks felt very strongly that they were pulled over because of their race. In the same pole only four percent of Whites felt the same way. This is another reason why African Americans have an “uneasy relationship with law enforcement.” (Nelson, Paul, Block Jr. & Brown-Dean).Some police officers have even came out and said that they racial profile. They believe that minority motorists are more likely to be committing certain crimes more than Whites. (Nelson, Paul, Block Jr. & Brown-Dean).
One statistic showed that Maryland State Police, “found that the “hit rate” – the percentage of searches in which contraband was found – was the same for black and white drivers, 28%.” (Institute of Race and Poverty). This statistic shows that Blacks should not be singled out for crimes because of their color. Many other statistics from this same source shows that Blacks and Whites break the law at the same percentage. The nation needs to use this as a notice to not single out people. We as a society are doing it.
Also with this showing that Whites and Blacks break the law in relatively the same amount, we should look at the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment states all citizens be treated equally under the law. We are equally breaking the law as statistics show, so I think that we should be protected equally just as the fourteenth amendment states. With racial profiling in affect, it is unjust for the black man to be treated unequal under the law.
This is another version of breaking our rights that we are given in the Constitution. Many times when a black man is pulled over their car is searched. The police officer uses his badge to push his way in to search the car. This is against the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. The 4th amendment gives all Americans the right to not be illegally searched and get anything seized from them. This is another governmental mistake that is happening to let racial profiling happen.
I believe that this is another moral issue that the government needs to look at to correct. All Americans were given rights with the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Its just amazing how many of these rights are taken from people just because of the color of their skin. Then we wonder why there is hatred between African Americans and Law Enforcement. Once we solve the problem of “Driving While Black” we can start solving the issues that Blacks have with Law Enforcement. The bad relationship will always be there until racial profiling behind the wheel ends.
In concluding this paper, I have found more reasons to stand by my position of racial profiling. It is unjust and not equal for Blacks to be profiled by their skin. I have shown statistics of drug usage and drug laws that are racially unjust for the African American. I have also shown that Blacks and Whites break the law at pretty much the same rate behind the wheel, but still more blacks get pulled over just because of their skin color. Even cops have said that they have used racial profiling because they believe that certain races break the law more then other races. With all the statistics to back my conclusion, one main and most important concern is that we all have our rights as Americans and as human beings to be treated equally, and no one should be singled out or thought of to be a criminal because of the color of their skin.
1. Tuckness, Alex; “Locke’s Political Philosophy”; The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N Zalta (ed.),URL=
2. Declaration of Independence; U.S. Government
3. The Effective National Drug Control Strategy 1999. Common Sense For Drug Policy. http://www.csdp.org/edcs/page30.htm
4. Eckholm, Erik (May 6, 2008). Racial Disparities Found to Persist as Drug Arrests Rise. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/us/05cnd-disparities.html
5. Fellner, Jamie. Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States. Stanford Law and Policy Review. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/news/2009/06/19/race-drugs-and-law-enforcement-united...
6. Cleary, Jim. Racial Profiling Studies in Law Enforcement: Issues and Methodology. Information Brief – Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department (June 2000). Retrieved from http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/raceprof.pdf
7. Nelson, Thomas E.; Paul, Javonne A.; Block Jr., Ray; Brown-Dean, Khalilah L. Racial Profiling or Racist Profiling? Department of Political Schience – The Ohio State University. Retrieved from http://polisci.osu.edu/grads/block/Rayz%20pagez/research%20Publications/...
8. “Driving while black” and all other traffic offenses: the Supreme Court and Pretextual Traffic Stops. Retrieved from http://acawiki.org/%22Driving_while_black%22_and_all_other_traffic_offen...
9. Institute on Race & Poverty, Components of Racial Profiling Legislation (May 24, 2001) Retrieved from http://www1.umn.edu/irp/irpcur.topics.html
10. The U.S. Constitution; U.S. Government