Racial and Group Profiling

Profiling is a current and hot topic issue in today’s news feed mostly due to the attention its sub-category “race” draws, and rightly so.  Floyd, et al. v. City of New York is the example of today to reference in order to understand the issue as it relates to race.  Unconstitutional profiling like these we all agree must stop.  Merriam-Webster defines profiling as, “the act or process of learning information about someone based on what is already known.”.  So, is all profiling bad?  I will compare and contrast two individuals, in one case both are African Americans, and in the other both are of the same religion.  In each case only one of the two gets profiled.


Two students are walking home after school going in roughly the same direction.  Both are African American males, about the same height, weight, and skin complexion.  However,  one of the them gets pulled over by a police officer for looking to be affiliated with a gang.  In the 2011 September issue of “PracticePerspectives”, a publication by The National Association of Social Workers, one of the warning signs that a youth has joined a gang was by, the “Changing manner or dress, and adopting gang-style clothing, jewelry, and/or tattoos.”  Based on Merriam-Webster’s definition of profiling, the cop learned that the student was likely part of a gang based on what he/she knew about gang-style attire in that area.  In this case, it was not racial but gang-profiling.


Now, you have two Muslims, both devoted to their faith and outstanding American citizens with no desire to associate with radical jihadists.  They wear similar garb and hair/beard styles.  However, every week, one of the men goes to a known location where radical preaching occurs and with fervency opposes the rhetoric as not representing Islam.  Because the location is being watched by the FBI, due its known extremist views, the Muslim guy is stopped and questioned one day while leaving the building.  Now, obviously this was an honest mistake, and not one of religious profiling but of the appearance of association with a radical sub-group.

The issue of profiling is a major concern in America today.  However, not all profiling is inherently bad as demonstrated in the body of this essay.  I hope this blog post helps make people aware that they can experience unwanted profiling by law enforcement, not because of race or religion, but because of their association with a particular sub-group.




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