What is racial profiling? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defines racial profiling as “the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin” (2005). Do not confuse racial profiling with criminal profiling; criminal profiling is usually practiced by police in which they use a group of characteristics that are associated with crime to target individuals (ACLU, 2005). Examples of racial profiling include using ones race to target specific drivers for traffic violations and pedestrians for illegal contraband; another prime example is the targeting of Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians since 9/11 in regards to minor immigrant violations without any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon (ACLU, 2005). Without a doubt, racial profiling occurs on a daily basis all over the world; however let’s focus on racial profiling in the United States and specifically right here in our homeland, Michigan.
Background & History When did racial profiling first begin? Even though racial profiling still exists today, it is not a recently new phenomenon. Racial profiling can date back to the 1700s when slavery was a common way of life for many African Americans. Like present-day racial profiling, one’s skin color is what has made them subject to discriminatory treatment from law enforcement (Rushing, K., 2013). In South Carolina, white men policed the black slaves on plantations and hunted for escaped slaves; this was referred to as “slave patrol”. Most slaves were not free, and if they were they had to carry freedom papers or a pass to prove that they had permission to be off of the plantation (Rushing, K., 2013). If a black person was found to have run away they were beaten, whipped or even killed as the consequence. Even into the 20th century, after slavery, blacks were again forced into another form of involuntary