Racial Profiling in the Law

Topics: Japanese American internment, Race, Black people Pages: 8 (1911 words) Published: April 19, 2015


Racial Profiling in U.S. History

Since the start of our great nation, a person’s ethnicity has had an influence on how they were treated and our government behaves in terms of government action and legislation. Some may believe that racial profiling is a problem that has only arisen in the past decade with the recent shootings of Michael Brown and other suspected hate crime killings. However, racial profiling has long before manifested with the effects being apparent from the law and the victims are not solely African American. Racial profiling is racism at its foundations and is the use of stereotypes and negative biases which in turn gets projected on other people fitting the superficial description of race, gender, nationality, or religion. Ultimately, this affects them in negative ways and usually poses as a safety issue for these victims of racial profiling. In regards to the law, racial profiling is the use of a person’s demographics which include the same superficial descriptions, as a consideration when carrying out the. This includes arrests, detainments, and so forth. A vivid example of ethnicity being a factor in legislation was how in the immediate aftermath of slavery and significantly within the 20th century, black men or those that resembled such were tricked into another form of subtle forced servitude. This ‘servitude’ was a penal labor system known as convict leasing where people, predominantly black men, would be leased to serve on private parties such as plantation owners or coal mining companies.  In order gain control over the black population and support the whites, now independent of free forced black labour, black codes were developed in the south. As part of the black codes, black people were convicted for homelessness or joblessness, also known as vagrancy. The freed men being only recently freed were easy victims to the law. If convicted of vagrancy, they were often imprisoned and forced to work to dismiss their sentence which was given to them for a vast variety of reasons, often insignificant.  Although seemingly illegal due to the Thirteenth Amendment, involuntary service or slavery in general was legal under the premise that it had to be a punishment and strictly of that nature. What's crucial to ascertain about the black codes, convict leasing, and racial profiling is that they violated a fundamental principle of our democracy, fair and just treatment of the law. The 14th Amendment was drafted in response to how the black codes and convict leasing laws seemed to be carried out differently upon people based on their respective ethnicity. The 14th Amendment sought to assure the citizenship of African-Americans and equal protection of the laws, including the right to life, liberty, property and due process. In today’s modern age, black people are often subjected to vehicle searches, frisks, and generally, authoritative action because they are often suspected of committing crimes. Despite being rid of slavery for over a century, blackness is still associated in a racist manner with wrongdoing and criminality.  In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics noted how the imprisonment ratio for black males was almost seven times than that of white males while the rate of incarceration of black females was nearly three times that of white females. A 2009 study by Fellner Jaime for Human Rights Watch noted blacks are convicted at much higher percentages than whites even though they commit drug offenses at reasonably comparable rates. Racial profiling related problems have become pervasive and significant in today’s modern society.

Another example in the influence of ethnicity on our government in our history became apparent with the onset of Pearl Harbor. Anti-Japanese paranoia increased because of the large Japanese population on the West Coast and was viewed as a security risk. Giving in to the current consensus and popular opinions, President...
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