Racial and Criminal Profiling: a Deductive Argument

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Erin Callihan, AIUSA, states that "Increased national security should not equate to decreased civil liberties. All people are entitled to due process and other basic human rights and constitutional protections" (Amnesty International). Racial Profiling, according to Amnesty International, occurs when race is used by law enforcement or private security officials, to any degree, as a basis for criminal suspicion in non-suspect specific investigations. The Constitution, which is arguably the most important document of the United States, clearly states that every person has the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This document sets the American people apart from many other countries in that it is supposed to give us equal rights. An issue that has risen in the United States time and time again and has threatened this equality is that of race and racism. Now in law enforcement from the levels of your local police department to that of prestigious FBI units there is the specialization in profiling, racial profiling to be more exact. Racial profiling has not only proven to be largely unsuccessful, but it is violating our equal rights ending up in over representation in America’s prisons and discrimination in the real world.

Race is a socially constructed form of categorization that has often been misunderstood, leading to different forms of racism. It is a set of shared interests, characteristics, and culture. Race is an illusion that has been created to construct identity. Identity is not totally decided by you, but chosen for you by what people have decided about you. The way that people see other people and things as right or wrong depends on the culture you, the individual, is living in. This then makes identity as something that is mostly cultural. Race is like a stereotype, or over generalization, that is making prejudices that lead to racism. A prejudice is any preconceived opinion without correct or adequate information. Through something that is socially constructed through culture, like race,

Race is difficult to measure and apply to people because it is self identified. According to Ailya Saperstein and Andrew M. Penner in their article “The Race of a Criminal Record: How Incarceration Colors Racial Perceptions”, “Most research on race in the United States treats race as an intrinsic characteristic of individuals, a fixed group membership ascribed at birth and based on one’s ancestry” (93). This is difficult to put into use in the real world because if you have one idea of what each race is you will find that people are different depending on where you are, the time period you are there, the amount of interaction with other cultures, and the history in that land among many other variables. An example of this would be how I was considered to be really Mexican at UCSB, yet I am considered “White washed” by my family, and I consider myself to be a combination of both as well as Colombian. As having been grown up first generation American it is very hard on me to have been Latina. When I studied abroad last year in Argentina I was not considered Latina at all, but White. The Argentine had a different perception of race and insisted that it didn’t matter where your parents were from, it only mattered where you were born. The majority of the population does not fit into only that one mold most researchers have put them in.

Race is affected by the population in power and as such can be seen as a form to keep the status quo. The minorities in a society are often the ones that have a negative reputation and have to deal with the social construct others have made about them. Examples of minorities would be Blacks, Latinos and Muslims. The three races have faced a lot of scrutiny here in the United States. They have been accused of being a large part of the crime population, being uneducated, and being terrorists. Although most are not this is the stereotype they have to live with every day. When you...
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