Naomi D. Hopkins
9 February 2013
This paper will discuss the relationship between Fear and how it relates to Racial Profiling in Police Practices. We will also discuss and illustrate real life examples under which Racial Profiling has occurred and how it is scientifically defined. The communication between peace officers and ordinary everyday citizens will also be examined.
Police: Racial Profiling in America
The issue of Racial Profiling in America by our Police Force is an undeniable truth and tragedy. Steve Holbert and Lisa Rose in their book the color of Guilt & Innocence recount a story of a Caucasian woman who is forced to walk alone with her young daughter down dark unfamiliar San Francisco streets at night in the dark. We’ll call this woman Lisa. She had just exited a train car with her young daughter and was walking down the dark streets unsure of her surroundings when she noticed that a stranger man, whose features she couldn’t make out, was following her and her daughter. Lisa had heard and seen reports about a young man in his mid-20s that was dark complected and had been robbing tourists. She felt her body tighten as she began breathing rapidly and she had quickened her pace pulling her daughter along without realizing it, until her daughter started pulling her in the opposite direction because she had dropped her candy cane that she had gotten from the cable car employee earlier that evening. “After her experience in the city, she began to question whether the irrational fear of monsters conjured up in the mind of a four year old was so different from the “monsters in the closet” we perceive as adults, the only difference being that the “monsters” we see as adults have a face and the face is of those who are different or those whose skin color is darker than our own. (Holbert, S; Rose, L 2004). This begs the question, “Did she fear this man because it was nighttime and she couldn’t see him and was unsure of her surroundings? Or was it because the man following her reminded her of that minority man who had been on the news who was robbing tourists? This brings to mind another quote I found while writing this paper: “Rather, racial profiling is more about our human response to an instinctual and primitive fear buried deep in each one of us.” (Holbert, S; Rose, L 2004) On the subject of Fear and Racism, I’m led to another quote in the book used primarily for my research on this very subject as it relates to American Law Enforcement practices. “When we ponder the concept of fear in the comfort of a classroom, almost all would agree that to fear a person because of skin color, religious affiliation, or appearance is irrational. In the phobic sense, this fear is xenophobia, the fear and/or hatred of foreigners or anything that is foreign.” (Holbert, S; Rose, L 2004). I would even go so far as to say that contempt prior to investigation is in itself, a form or fear and intolerance. How can we judge a situation, let alone a person, accurately without all the facts? Do we assume we are Gods or Goddesses that are worthy to judge our fellow men or women? If so, what makes us so different, or dare I say, “Superior” to another? I am reminded of my own feelings, when as a small child; I made the decision to say that “all white people are racist.” This statement in and of itself is in fact, a form or racial profiling. That is, I was judging a certain race of people, in this case, whites and assuming that I had gathered enough information to do so. This brings me to another quote out of my research, “To understand the complexities of prejudice, racism, and racial profiling, we must first explore the origin of fear and understand how it can dictate the way in which our body responds to outside stimuli long before we become consciously aware of the racial implications.” (Holbert, S; Rose, L 2004). In fact, the word “fear” comes from...