Racial discrimination is a particularly disturbing global issue that has disrupted interactions between law enforcement and African Americans and other ethnic groups such as Latinos and Asian minorities in many countries, including the United States and Canada. While reports that the United States and Canada have entered a post-racist period, racial discrimination occurs on a daily basis in these countries’ towns and cities. Racial discrimination is the intensified harassment of persons of color, especially black Americans, by both private security and law enforcement officials (“Racial Profiling”). The blacks are subjected to stops, searches, interrogations, and detentions without evidence of any criminal involvement solely based on their ethnicity race and national origin. For many centuries, racial profiling has been perpetuated by racist ideologies, acculturalization, criminalization and racialization that establish the basis for racism in liberal democratic societies. These processes have established a narrative in the modern societies where certain groups, especially the African Americans, are disadvantaged and marginalized by whites. Therefore, concerted and integrated measures should be implemented to prevent further escalation of racial profiling among law enforcement agencies.
Although police activities have played a leading role in advancing racial profiling in the modern societies, the media, politicians and other Whites elites in different institutions, on the other hand, has reinforced this racialization processes. This development has established racial profiling as an acceptable regime of truth that serves to reinforce and preserve systems of White social control and privilege that are centered in structures of dominance (“Racial Profiling”). The police have centered its operations on a group of features they believe to be associated with crime. For instance, they exclusively use an individual racial identity to determine which pedestrians or drivers to stop and search for violating traffic rules or possessing illegal substances.
The practice of racial profiling has had a huge impact on the lives of the African Americans as well as other minority groups. It has alienated the people of color the enjoyment of equal treatment from law enforcement agencies which has considerably limited community policing efforts. The unequal treatment by the police has resulted in mistrust and loss of credibility among the African Americans on the security agencies. Instead of promoting justice and fairness in the entire communities by protecting people from harm regardless of their racial background, police has perpetuated racial profiling that subjects countless people of color to live in fear. This discrimination has set the entire minority communities as suspects simply due to their background and their racial identities.
As a result of the widespread racial profiling in the United States, the lives of a high number of African Americans have negatively been affected. From the beginning of slavery that lasted for more than two hundred and forty years, the people of color have been the target of systemic profiling in traffic and pedestrians stops.
Several studies indicate that police officers fire an armed suspect faster when the target is an African American than when the suspect is White (“Racial Profiling”). It has been a common trend for officers to lessen its enforcement when traffic violators are whites. However, the people of color due to their racial orientation are highly scrutinized, and in some cases, they are killed for minor offenses. This effect of bias treatment has largely been greater on African Americans because the enforcement officers and most institutions dominated by whites strongly stereotype them as dangerous, violent, and mostly possess illegal arms. The effects of racial profiling are widespread and as such the communities of color have extensively suffered from police brutality resulting in the loss of wealth and income, voting rights, future employment opportunities and even health quality.
Proposed Solution to Racial Profiling
It is apparent from different studies that implicit biases facilitate racial disparities and profiling by law enforcement security agencies. Therefore, to curb these extreme biases measures should be put in place that enhances healthier, more equal and fairer society. Social psychologists are the major players expected to play a major role of improving policing and identify tools aimed at reducing implicit bias (“How To Reduce Racial Profiling”). A legitimate framework should be formulated that encompasses the provision of strategies to highlight awareness of implicit discrimination and bias and means of overcoming them.
Research indicate that racial profiling is caused by a host of psychological and situational factors that in turn influence the manifestation of prejudices and stereotyping of people of color by the police (“How To Reduce Racial Profiling”). Since implicit discrimination are reinforced by the politicians, the media, and the public institutions, concise efforts should be put in place to counter perpetuation of the wrong narrative, and any perceive racial injustice about the African Americans, Latinos, Asians and other minority groups. Every institution including the law enforcement agencies should adopt integrated interventions which inoculate the citizens regardless of their racial inclination from subsequent exposure to misleading information in their environment.
Starting from police officers, a clear strategy that limits their discretion in the pedestrians and drivers they stop and search should be adopted. Their increased discretion tendencies usually lead to unequal treatment that is motivated by racial bias. Studies reveal that increased discretion tendencies are linked to low productivity rates among the police officers (“How To Reduce Racial Profiling”). Instead of targeting real culprits of traffic offenses and contrabands find, the police exclusively based their stops and arrest on ethnicity and racial inclination, suggest that most African American and other minority population stopped and arrested are innocent.
The discretion culture prevalent among the police officers leads to judgment based on cognitive shortcuts such as racial stereotyping. By establishing clearer and higher thresholds to foster reasonable suspicion, the law enforcement management would subject the patrolling traffic officers to fewer stops and searches, more of which would be fruitful and justified. Complete adoption of this strategy would have the effect of lowering racial profiling of the pedestrians and drivers. Police officers should replace their high discretion tendencies with prescriptive guidance that direct making of stops only based on factors derived from empirical analysis, for instance, based on certain behaviors that are identified to be reliably connected to criminal conduct.
It follows therefore that the reduction of discretion among police officers and consequently adopting prescriptive guidance would generate a double effect on racial bias and profiling in police stops. First, these disparities would substantially reduce since stereotyping propensities even the implicit ones will be less influential. Secondly, the effect of these disparities would decrease because the absolute number of African Americans and other disadvantaged groups incarcerated would go down. Hence these intervention shows that by assisting police officers to be more discriminating of whom to stop ultimately equip them to be less discriminatory in whom they stop and search.
“How To Reduce Racial Profiling”. Greater Good, 2017,
“Racial Profiling”. American Civil Liberties Union, 2017,