The Racial Profiling: Does it Exist in the United States?

Last Updated: 26 May 2023
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There are several controversial issues surrounding racial profiling and the various problems that are encountered as a result of it. One issue is whether or not racial profiling exists. Most law enforcement departments refuse to undergo a study and they deny that racial profiling exists. These problems, coupled with the status of literature regarding this topic at this point, are more unreliable than scientific. In addition, the topic is controversial because the United States believes that it has rid itself of prejudice and racism, and to open the topic of racial profiling by law enforcement personnel is admitting that its possible the nation is backsliding. As a result, the events of September 11th stepped up the pace of racial profiling by law enforcement and grew to include new groups of people.

Racial profiling is a topic that is seen across the nation in the media. Racial profiling has often been referred to as the apparition occurrence because so far departments across the nation clearly deny its existence. The topic is a growing one in light of the September 11, 2001 attacks on America. Racial profiling has been a top news story since that attack but it was an issue for many years before that.

The equal protection clause can be found in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. It simply states that, "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In other words, this meant that the Constitution would become 'color-blind'. State laws would no longer be allowed to treat whites and blacks differently. The Supreme Court relied heavily upon the "separate but equal" doctrine to determine when a state law violated the equal protection clause. This is also how the Supreme Court would determine what is considered to be discrimination. In order to prove that a state is guilty of discrimination there must be an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting the claim. This was evident in the case of Washington vs. Davis, where the Court ruled against two blacks who claimed that the hiring practices of the D.C.

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Police Department were discriminatory towards racial minorities. The Supreme Court said that the hiring practices did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Equal Protection is described as "the right of all persons to have the same access to the law and courts and to be treated equally by the law and courts, both in procedures and in the substance of the law". It is similar to the right to due process of law, but in particular applies to equal treatment as an aspect of fundamental fairness. The most famous case on this subject is Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) in which Chief Justice Earl Warren, for a undivided Supreme Court, ruled that "separate but equal" educational facilities for blacks were essentially unequal and unconstitutional since the segregated school system did not give all students equal rights under the law. It will also apply to other inequalities such as difference in pay for the same work or unequal taxation. The principle is stated in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution: "No State shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

One of the hardest things to argue in this intense topic is whether or not it exists. There is not a law enforcement agency in the nation that has stepped up to the plate and acknowledged that it does indeed profile using racial criteria. It is something that New York City's Law Enforcement Department has been accused of over and over again, while the chiefs and mayors unwaveringly deny the rumors. It is something that the media use entire segments trying to prove with the cases that are claimed to have happened because of it (Colb, 2000). Numerous studies over the past few years have proven what many have known for decades: law enforcement agents at all levels consistently use race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion when choosing which individuals should be stopped and searched. Discriminatory racial profiling is a widely recognized problem in communities across the country.

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The Racial Profiling: Does it Exist in the United States?. (2023, May 26). Retrieved from

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