Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, once quoted: “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”
A Muslim, a Terrorist, a black man being yelled at and questioned by police, a pilot removing an Arab agent from the flight when the agent was on his way to President Bush’s ranch, African American population being arrested on the statements of a single undercover police officer without any corroborating evidence or witnesses.
The examples do not end here, it is an endless list of real-life and practical examples, making it impossible to quote them all.
If the above statements amaze you, I think you must know about:
What is Racial Profiling?
How does it affect our society?
Is this the new black to our *unbiased* system?
Are we failing as humans?
The answers remain hidden because we often avoid questioning ourselves, and instead, question the system and the other parties of interest. The gist of the matter gets lost somewhere.
Let’s first find out What Racial Profiling is:
Stereotyping is a method of extracting knowledge from someone's appearance that may contribute to a distorted perception of the individual, or an impediment that you put on other people, or blot a picture.
Whether someone agrees or not, stereotypes do exist in our culture, in our traditions, in our ethics, in our morals, in our society, in our system, the list does not end here.
Racial Profiling also referred to as ethnic profiling, is just a vicious and extended form of stereotyping. If described in the simplest terms it is the accusation, targeting, or discrimination against a person based on ethnicity or religion and less on individual suspicion. Racial profiling is often used to discriminate against minorities and is focused on some derogatory stereotypes of the demographic being profiled.
Racial discrimination, on the other hand, is not limited to ethnicity, race, or religion; it may also be based on a person's nationality. Like a Pakistani will always be a terrorist, a black person will always be a slave etc.
People have passed down rituals for centuries to keep these cultures alive, and our world is packed with a plethora of them. There are moments when biases prevent people from doing what they enjoy, and other times when our prejudices cause people to conceal important aspects of their identities. Our judgments may often discourage people from living their lives as they wish.
“Why is ending Racial Profiling a Debate?
We’re people, not politics.”
To argue that racial discrimination is acceptable because it only affects those who violate the law is to completely disregard the psychological and social harm that can be caused by being treated as one of the usual suspects.
Racial discrimination is unjustified because, despite our many differences (we come from different places, have different castes, have different looks, and speak different languages), we have a lot in common. We all deserve to be heard. We deserve to be treated the same as everyone else. We have this right because we live in a secular country, and we must claim it.
One bad example is all it takes for us to forget and stop appreciating the good morals and ethics associated with the individual, caste, or religion.
For example, you recently learned of a terrorist attack at XYZ place. Will you stop hanging out with your Muslim friend after hearing this news? You may have heard that a girl was raped by a small group of people from a specific caste. Will you no longer take classes from a teacher from that caste?
The response is a resounding no. We are not swayed away by such incidents.
Everyone will acknowledge that, though our perceptions discourage us from forming certain opinions on a personal level, we do form opinions on others simply because they come from a specific ethnic background or because of stories we hear about those backgrounds. We assume that we know a person's entire life story and everything they like to do just because of that one example in the news.
We do not give enough time to getting to know people for who they truly are. We define people based on their ethnicity rather than their personalities.
Our gaps should not separate us. It is our failure to understand, consider, and celebrate those disparities that are the problem.
The efficacy and effect of racial profiling are no good on society. To someone who has not experienced this practice in his or her life may consider this a minor offence, but to someone who has experienced it first-hand knows how bad it can get. It is far more than a nuisance and has true and immediate ramifications. When someone accused of something isn’t given a chance to prove himself, he loses his true identity and acquires the one given by society. I fear this has some really bad repercussions and does no good to society.
They suffer socially, psychologically, and in some cases financially and physically too. To claim that racial discrimination is innocuous, that it only harms those who violate the law, completely disregards the psychological and social damage that can arise from constantly being considered one of the “usual suspects.”
We only compromise our future by practising the same. We fail as a human if we attempt any of the above-said practices. Imagine yourself being a victim of Racial Profiling and if the consequences make you shudder, maybe it’s high time to make this practice go away.
Racial profiling jeopardizes our future by affecting our children and youth, instilling distrust in our institutions, affecting our communities' sense of belonging and political engagement, and undermining human integrity. Social cohesion gets lost somewhere and we are the only ones responsible.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
- Martin Luther King
Let’s be the voice that encourages others to end this inhuman practice. We must remove the bottlenecks that hinder the idea of a ‘WORLD WITHOUT RACIAL PROFILING’.