Racial Profiling: The Experience of Black Americans and Muslim American
The American justice system is composed of three parts that, ideally, should work hand-in-hand to promote justice. These three groups are the police, courts and corrections. The police are expected to arrest the criminals (Neubauer and Fradella 2011, p. 7). One of the tactics that the police system employed is racial profiling. In the realm of criminal justice, “the use of racial profiling as a law enforcement tactic is that race (or ethnic) characteristics help the police to target those more likely to be criminals” (Ryberg, 2011, p. 79). Thus, coming from this assumption, this technique will help the police department to apprehend more criminals. The minorities in the United States, particularly the Black Americans and Muslim Americans, are greatly affected by racial profiling.
Contrary to the supposed role of criminal justice, the current system does not promote justice rather discrimination and inequality because of the use of racial profiling. This has been supported by Chan (2011) – “the experience of being subject to racial profiling can lead to a feeling of being harassed and to a sense of alienation from the legal system” (p. 75). Racial profiling is a form of stereotyping, which can lead to morally wrong instances: a change from assumptions to “realities” about the things you “know” to a particular group; used to be in power or to justify the position of those who are in power and; perpetuate social inequalities and prejudices. Racial profiling discourages the possibility of “reasonable suspicion” (Chan, 2011, p. 75). Despite the observations, racial profiling remains high especially in the case of Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the country.
Purpose of the Study
The study aims for the evaluation of the key effects of racial profiling among Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States. Further, the study aims to present possible means to stop or at least alleviate the growing problems of racial discrimination caused by racial profiling in the said city. The ongoing problems caused by racial profiling are considered to be a challenge to Black Americans and Muslim Americans due to its potentially negative social and personal implications.
Significance of the Study
The importance of the study is to contribute to the academic discourse by exploring the phenomenon of the effects of racial profiling among Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States. This may serve as another material following the research approaches of the racial profiling analysts in obtaining the ideas that characterize racial discrimination in the country. Through the use of the empirical study, the study might bridge the gap in the literature context. On the other hand, the underpinning principle behind the choice of this topic is that recognizing the social and personal effects of racial profiling among Blacks and Muslim Americans, this will inform policy development, implementation of strategies, and the utilization of external and internal resources that can combat the growth of racial discrimination within the country.
In New York City, police officers use the concept of racial profiling in their stop and frisk policy. This is a condition where colored individuals (for the case, the Negroes) are likely to be stopped, questioned, searched and arrested by the police compared to white Americans. The situation creates stigma between who are Blacks and Whites, which apparently shows racial discrimination. The Fourth Amendment is well-defined; the police officer should not cling to “his inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch” so to base his “stop, question and frisk power” to racial color, then there must be wrong and should be taken into consideration.
Also, the stopping of citizens in New York is very much concentrated in minority – those who are characterized by poverty and social disadvantaged only. This case only shows that the policy is not only racially but also socially discriminating. This apparently creates tension between police officers and citizens. There is also issue when police officers tend to blur the line between “stop” and “seized.” It has been previously discussed what stop and frisk means. “Seized” is the condition when a police officer “accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away” (Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, 1968, n.p. ). There are many instances where individuals became victims of the ignorance of a police officer to identify what is “stop” and what is “seized. This policy also shows harassment just imagining that this scheme is performed in public place while “the citizen stands helpless, perhaps facing a wall with his hands raised” (Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, 1968,n.p.). This reflects “petty indignity” especially when finding out that the person is innocent.
In a similar light, racial profiling also happens among Muslim Americans. For instance, the Arab American Institute (AAI) released an alarming report regarding its poll findings. In an opinion poll administered by Zogby Analytics, AAI explained that “there has been a continued erosion in the favorable ratings Americans have of both Arabs and Muslims, posing a threat to the civil rights and political inclusion of both Arab Americans and American Muslims” (AAI, 2014, n.p.). The decline in positive perceptions was noticeable since 2010. In 2010 favorable perceptions for Arabs was pegged at 43 percent which at 2014 dropped to 32 percent. Favorable perceptions towards Muslims also declined from 36 percent in 2010 to just 27 percent in 2014.
This downward slide in favorable ratings is manifested in the percentage increase of Americans (42%) who support racial profiling efforts of law enforcement authorities towards Arab Americans and American Muslims. Moreover, the poll also showed a growing number of Americans who believe that Muslims or Arab-Americans are not patriotic enough to be appointed in government positions since they will identify with their ethnicity first than their country. A growing number of Americans also perceived that Arab Americans are negatively influenced by Islam and thus cannot be trusted to hold key government positions.
More alarming than the racial slurs include experiencing being stopped by law enforcement due to racial profiling (28%); being rejected for a job application (12%); destruction of property (11%) and physical assault (7%). For instance, a Bollywood actor became a victim of racial profiling and discrimination at a New Jersey airport for having the Muslim-sounding surname “Khan.” The actor was released after the Indian embassy interceded on his behalf. On 2010, a New York cab driver was stabbed after being asked if he was a Muslim by a passenger.
Mears (2006) also hypothesized that racial profiling often leads to the formation of symbolic threat. Symbolic threat pertains to particular groups which “threaten the hegemony of middle-and upper-class rule” (Mears, 2006, p. 473). Thus they are perceived to be likely subjected to social control. Mears suggested that policy makers’ impression in particular conditions of the offenders, such as urban poverty, race and “broken homes directly and indirectly affect their decision towards juvenile incarceration (Mears, 2006, p.474). For example, when the juvenile offender comes from the Black population, he will likely be sentenced to incarceration because Blacks are viewed as makers as “dangerous class.”
Racial profiling often leads to discrimination against the black population. According to Loic (2002) looking at the composition of inmates in the country, the rise of the black inmates became trending in the year 1988. This year is significant to note since the vice president during this time, George Bush, ran his ‘Willie Horton’ advertisement. This features sinister black man images raping a white woman (Loic, 2002, p. 43). This image or representation gives the public the impression that blacks form a dangerous class.
Further, many foreign-born individuals coming into the US have been held for long periods before deportation orders are finalized. Such practices have changed federal law enforcement and its dynamics with local and state agencies so that it has generated a newer mechanism of racial profiling never before encountered. For example, local law enforcement agencies have already done away with established practices since today, by virtue of the Patriot Act, they can make arrests for minor violation of immigration laws. As it stands, this policy and structural changes affect South Asians, Middle Easterners, and Muslims in general (Esposito & Kalin, 2013, p. 5).
In the process, the present work did aim at examining the subsequent study queries:
1. In what ways are Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the US become the target of racial profiling?
2. How do Blacks and Muslim Americans in the US react to their experiences in racial profiling?
3. What are the social and personal effects of racial profiling to the Black Americans and Muslim Americans
Hypothesis: Racial profiling leads to the increase rate of racial discrimination. Thus, this tactic in the realm of criminal justice must be abolished to eliminate or alleviate discrimination among Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States.
This study used the qualitative research approach in exploring the effects of racial profiling among Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States. Creswell (2006) defines qualitative research as an inquiry process of understanding that is based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher’s function is to build a complex, holistic picture, analyze words, report detailed views of informants, and conduct the study in a natural setting.
Qualitative research serves major purposes; as an exploratory study method; as a complement to large-scale, systematic research; and as a viable alternative to other research methodologies based on intended purpose and practicality (Creswell, 2006, p. 10). The author postulates that qualitative research methodologies are most effective when the focus of the research is oriented toward exploratory discovery and inductive logic. The qualitative approach to research is more effective than quantitative analysis when seeking to achieve certain objectives, topics, problems, and situations (Creswell, 2006, p. 10). These would include the study of: complete programs, phenomena, or events; transitional or developmental events and programs; factors, behaviors, motivations, attitudes, and feelings that are linked with the process of changing; complex events having interrelated phenomena; rapidly changing or dynamic situations; relationships between setting and research subjects; and processes instead of outcomes (Creswell, 2006, p. 126).
For this particular study, qualitative research, particularly document review and interview were used to make a comprehensive exploration of racial profiling among Black Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States. Several types of documents were reviewed to gather information about racial profiling in the US. These documents included case studies, news articles, and peer-review journal articles dated up to the present. The process of selecting the sample will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
According to Cohen, Manion, and Morrison (2008), sampling is the procedure of choosing representative sample from the total population. It has been tackled about in advance that an immense group of the population make use of social media, so it is not possible to have them all as sample. Therefore, the researcher preferred the best method to bring together data and as a result is to extract a sample from the population of social media users particularly in the aspect of journalism in order to signify the total population.
One of the most significant processes in the sampling process is the course of recognition of participants. This method is vital to consider guaranteeing the criterion of the participants. The sample group consisted of the ethnic minorities in the US that experience racial profiling in different ways. This study engaged on 30 people (15 Black Americans and 15 Muslim Americans) who have been victims of the discrimination of racial profiling. From now, the procedures for recruiting participants from both news organizations and their customers’ population are as follows:
1. E-mails were sent to these prospective participants calling for their contribution to be the representative sample of the whole population. The least amount prerequisite is their experience of discrimination through racial profiling.
2. Upon receiving confirmatory reply, they are asked to sign approval issued by the researcher. The prior arrangement will be followed where the researcher will perform a short meeting about the environment of the participant. This may be through phone or in person, depending on the discretion of the potential respondent.
3. On the interview day, the researcher will discuss updates concerning ethical consideration of the research.
Scholars asserted that there are two features that concern the alternative of the researcher whether to use qualitative or quantitative system in the study. These are the level of the researcher’s awareness towards a particular familiarity about the specific topic and his position concerning human social conduct. Therefore, the selection of a quantitative method is professed appropriate due to the fact that it may offer an illustration of the participants’ lived experiences (Abusabha & Woelfel 2003, p. 7). This research design permits the researcher to collect, investigate and report biased-free information.
This research makes use of coding and confirmation as per investigation arrangement. According to Lichtman (2010), coding pertains to the method of arranging the gathered data and discerning the recurring ideas, themes and details (Lichtman, 2010, p. 6). This technique was used in order to allow the researcher notice the frequent benefits and problems that journalists of news companies and their readers face in using social media. This is also an excellent technique to build up a guide to their answers. Coding was tagged by recording of database. This is then followed by SPSS text analyzer to check the legitimacy of the research hypothesis. Furthermore, diagrams and other facts will also be presented in order to observe visually the trends and outlines of respond and behaviors by the participants.
Proposed Data Analysis
Analyzing the data was an ongoing process in order to identify any themes related to the study. A theme is a phrase that captures the fundamental meaning or significance of a selected portion of narrative text. It gives shape to the shapeless and is an effort to capture the phenomenon one is trying to understand. Therefore, searching for themes is the art of recovering or uncovering what is embodied in content. It can be a deductive process, an inductive process, or an eclectic deductive-inductive process.
Coding is a method used to identify themes and serves two purposes in qualitative analysis: (a) codes act as tags to identify text in corpus for later retrieval or indexing and (b) codes act as values assigned to fixed units of data. Codes as values are associated with classic content analysis.
Risk and Benefits
Due to the nature of the proposed research and the process of seeking information, there will be potential ethical issues (particularly institutional and personal) that will arise. Since most data for the proposed project will be sought and collected from specific individuals and institutions, the issue on rights and privacy should be taken into consideration. Hence, this proposed project will consider and seek principle guidelines and necessary permission to ensure that ethical issues will be respected. Aside from the issue on privacy and confidentiality, copyright laws will also be observed.
In the quest of processing and writing the proposed project, the researcher will see to it that research ethics will be observed in order not to cause danger to any organization or respondents. Further, voluntary participation will be adhered in the project. All data and collected information from the research questionnaires will be used strictly to support the research. The researcher will also guarantee to the participants that anonymity of the research will be ensured. Hence, no personal information of the participants will be put in the research questionnaires. This procedure will ensure that organization and respondents will be protected from any hard in partaking in the proposed project. Participants will also be asked to sign a consent form before participating in the study. Lastly, the collected data from the research will be protected using a password-secured hard drive. The only person who will have access to the hard drive is the researcher and after the project submission, the drive will be destroyed.
This research alerts the persistence of the racial problems in a post-racial world. Future research can be geared towards a deeper understanding of these problems. . The policy implications, though far reaching, would be fairly straightforward: lessen the cases of racial discrimination brought by racial profiling and at the same time promoting fairness and justice.
Abusabha, R., & Woelfel, M. L. (2003). Qualitative vs. quantitative methods: Two opposites that make a perfect match. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(5), 566-569.
Arab American Institute (2014). Arab Americans and American Muslims Are At Risk. Retrieved http://www.aaiusa.org/dr-zogby/entry/arab-americans-and-american-muslims-are-at-risk/ on May 21, 2015.
Chan, J. (2011). Racial Profiling and Police Subculture. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 10 (3): 75-58.
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2008). Research methods in education. London, UK: Routledge.
Creswell, J. (2006). In Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA Sage Publications, Inc.
Esposito, J. and Kalin, I. (2011). Islamophobia: the challenge of pluralism in the 21st century. Oxford University Press.
Lichtman, M. (2010). Qualitative research in education: A user’s guide. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
Loic, W. (2002). From Slavery to Mass Incarceration: Rethinking the ‘race question’ in the US . New Left Review: 41-60.
Mears, D. (2006). Exploring State-Level Variation in Juvenile Incarceration Rates. Sage Publications.
Neubauer, D. and Fradella, H. (2011). America’s Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Ryberg, J. (2011). Racial Profiling and Criminal Justice. Journal of Ethics 15: 79-88.
Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Retrieved in
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0392_0001_ZS.html on May 21, 2015.
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