Thursday, January 29, 2009

And a Little Racial Profiling... wrap up the day. What do you think about racial profiling? Have you ever really thought about it?

When black people see my kids they assume they are "mixed." When Hispanics see us they routinely speak to them in Spanish, making assumptions.

What if racial profiling stopped a terrorist attack while inconveniencing several folks who looked similar, but were good, American citizens? What about a black man feeling insulted and outraged at being suspected of drug dealing based on his car or appearance? What if you were singled out?

All this came to mind today and I've since asked several people for their reactions based on a news story I heard on NPR. I'm an addict and listen on the way home every day. It seems that some INS agents scoped out an area where day laborers hang out and arrived asking for 10 or 20 people to do some sheet rock work, ignoring the few whites and one black guy there. Seems they also approached folks across the street and rounded up 3 additional people in the store where the corner was located. 24 people were arrested and 3 have since filed for damages...So if you assume that the other 21 were illegal, which I point out they did not confirm or deny in this news report, you are led to believe that 87.5% (not that you can have a half person) were here illegally...

So, I understand that racial profiling is illegal and there have been big stinks on this kind of discrimination in the past but does it perhaps seem just a little bit like Americans are ok with it when it suits them? And knowing that discrimination is still alive, you might do it yourself on occasion? Does you perspective shift when I say it's black person? A Hispanic person? A person from Asia? The Middle East? Gay? Wiccan? Atheist?

As a country we seem very clear that when used to harm others racial profiling is wrong. If it works statistically is it ever ok? What if it is used for "good?" Like cleaning up the streets from violent crime? Averting a national disaster? Where do you draw the line?

I'm not sure how clear this is for you. I wonder. The more I think on it though the foggier I get.


  1. Ooof, that's a hard one. In an idyllic world, racial profiling would be a waste of time. I'm not sure which is more sad, that it is still so commor or that fact that it is often effective.

  2. That's how America works.
    When I lived in the states, in Wisconsin, I learned how different Canada and the USA are.

    They day I moved back to Canada I felt free ... something you're supposed to feel in the USA.

  3. I think that racial profiling is very common and that we have all grown too comfortable with it. We need to be very uncomfortable with it.

    Al kinds of profiling goes on, in unusual ways. I have a friend who goes to a big movie complex about once a month and sees three movies, sneaking into two and only paying for one. When I asked her if she and her husband had ever been caught, she laughed and said, "No. Luckily, we are old farts. If we were a younger couple or teenagers, yeah...we'd never get away with it."