General Question

cutiepi92's avatar

Do you believe racial profiling is a serious issue in the US?

Asked by cutiepi92 (2252points) July 18th, 2013

Just lately after web surfing it seems like a lot of people just don’t get it. I’ve seen an abundance of comments saying it doesn’t happen or people are playing the “race card” yet things like this:

happen all the time and there are examples everywhere. Even with this, I don’t see how many can believe that the Trayvon Martin case wasn’t racially motivated. Do I think America has gotten SLIGHTLY more progressive? Of course. But I think that too many people believe that having a “black president” is enough but lately it seems like racial arguments have only gotten worse.

I’m just asking this to hear other people’s opinions and thoughts.

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40 Answers

josie's avatar


What race baiters and politicians call racial profiling is usually nothing more than reasonable folks response to what they believe are the facts of reality.

In my city, there is a distinctly violent, crime ridden area, and the residents are 90% black. If I found myself isolated there, and I knew where I was, and I was approached by a half a dozen black kids, I would justifiably get my self ready for trouble, because white folks in this part of town are targets for trouble. (So are black folks, but that is another question)

If I was on an airplane and a Middle Eastern, bearded young man began screaming “Allahu Akbar” I would get an uneasy feeling that trouble was about to follow.

That is not profiling. That is reason. Most Americans are still reasonable. All the pressure to be politically correct is not currently sufficient to over ride their reason. It may happen someday, but it has not happened yet.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
josie's avatar

Of course I did. And I had already seen it. It is propaganda. My answer stands.
I don’t expect you to like it. And I do not condemn you for asking the question.

JLeslie's avatar

No. I do think it happens, but not a widespread serious problem. I also agree with @josie that having your antenna up when it is warranted is ok. It might be profiling, but I am ok with that. I am not ok with harassing someone or harming them based on their race, but if their behavior is suspect then I am ok with being suspicious of them, avoiding them, watching them, etc.

cutiepi92's avatar

@JLeslie I guess the problem becomes what is defined as “suspect behavior”. Is one behavior suspect when one race does it but not the other? I suppose to those who haven’t experienced it, it might not seem like an issue, but dealing with it firsthand I just feel like it is a problem that gets breezed over by those who will never understand….....

bkcunningham's avatar

I think there are good people and bad people. Police officers are people too.

I don’t think racial profiling is a serious issue in the US. New York City is one place in the US. The Nation is a very liberal, left publication and @josie is correct that the video is propaganda.

majorrich's avatar

I don’t believe it is as bad a problem as the boob tube folks would have us believe.

flo's avatar

Why did the black woman who shot a warning but didn’t shoot her husband got 20 years? That is worse than racial profiling.

Judi's avatar

Saw this video today that pretty much Sums it up. I am not Trayvon

zenvelo's avatar

Peopel have speculated that if Zimmerman was black and Martin were white, that Zimmerman would have been promptly arrested and locked away for a long time. But we have to remember that whenever a black kid in Florida and many other places is seen with again, they don’t get arrested, they get shot and killed.

Racial profiling is rampant in the US.

JLeslie's avatar

@cutiepi92 For me no, it is not about race. If I saw a group of teen men, I don’t care what race, on the corner or at a gas station kind of hanging out, I would wonder if they were up to no good. In a bad part of town I would be more nervous than a better part of town.

Now, if the bad parts of town happen to be black more often than not, then if I saw I am more nervous walking in those areas, technically it is because of the crime rate there, but it also happens to be a black area, that isn’t racial profiling in my book, even though it marks blacks more than whites so to speak.

When I worked retail I called security if people were wearing baggy clothing. Called them to watch them on the camera. The majority of the time they were black teens, because that was the fashion they tended to wear. We definitely caught black and white men both stuffing clothing down their trousers. Did we profile black men in that case?

In the Zimmerman case I do think Trayvon was profiled. From what I understand there was a break in and they believed it to be a black male who had done it. I am disgusted Zimmerman pursued Trayvon, and wish he could have been convicted of a lesser charge if murder could not be proven. I also think if Zimmerman had believed that a white kid in a black hoodie had done the break in, that Zimmerman would have pursued him also and made the same mistake. I don’t think his aggression was necessarily racially motivated. I think he was an untrained want to be cop who took a matter into his hands that he had no business doing.

cutiepi92's avatar

@JLeslie here are your key words though “For me”

I’m asking just in general. Not if you specifically profile.

On an individual basis of course the answer may vary. But I think in general racial profiling is a more prevalent issue that many non-minority Americans would not like to admit to (partially because of their personal feelings about handling the matter and due to lack of experience).

cutiepi92's avatar

And let us not forget that there are people in this country that say and think stuff like this when they see someone that is not white. And these are just the ones stupid enough to post that thought on the internet, I can only imagine how many people think things like that of people they don’t even know on a daily basis.

JLeslie's avatar

I definitely think there are racist bigoted people out there. In fact I know it. They believe people are born bad, hopeless, and pointless, which is a disgusting way to think in my opinion.

Then there are people who see a lot of problems in a minority community and it prejudices them. I know people like this who will say a lot of very negative things about groups, but many of them also say negative things about white people. It usually has more to do with socioeconomics than race in actuality.

I consider myself a minority, but I do get the luxury of being white. I grew up and still today think every synagogue is a target for people who want to blow up Jews. I don’t obsess about it, but when I attend a wedding in one, I often have the thought that we are sitting ducks. When I see a confederate flag I think to myself those idiots proudly flying it don’t realize that it terrorizes black people, and puts me on edge also. My husband is Mexican, so I guess we can add that minority status to my household.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a story to add. When my husband took an expat assignment in Colombia, he happened to have longish hair at the time and a goutee. I told him to shave since he would be going through customs and immigration every month for a while. I didn’t want to add to his “profile.” He already has a name that some people perceive as Arab. It is actually a middle eastern Jewish name; no matter what it sounds foreign and unfamiliar to many Americans and Latin Americans and even European. He has dark skin (not very dark, picture what you might generalize as someone who is Greek) and black hair. So, I very much believe there are profiles used. However, he also walks through with his cute smile and bright eyes, is congenial to everyone, carries himself in a nonthreatening way, and never gets tripped up in immigration.

Jeff Henderson, a well known chef in Las Vegas, wrote a book about how he went from prison to being a chef in a high end restaurant. He talks about when he left prison he stopped pumping iron so much so his muscles would diminish some, he changed his walk to be less threatening, he dressed for the position he wanted. He understood conforming to the expectations of the people in that industry was going to help him.

These stories go to behavior, assimilation, and conforming. We can accuse people of being racist or xenophobic. We can have a whole argument on whether people have to conform to be accepted and respected.

ETpro's avatar

Yes, sadly it is beyond obvious it is. I don’t know we’ll get past it till we intermingle and intermarry to the point that it becomes hard to figure out what profile to apply.

augustlan's avatar

Yes, I do.

rojo's avatar

Regardless of who you are, where you live, or how politically correct you try to be, everyone profiles and race is a part of that profiling. It is not right or wrong it just is.

jordym84's avatar

Since moving to the US about 10 years ago, I myself have never experienced racism on a personal level. However, since moving to Florida about 10 months ago, I have heard some truly awful things said to others around me. Just within the last month I have witnessed the following:
– During an elevator ride at my workplace, there was little mixed girl who was riding with her Caucasian mom. She went to push the elevator button when a fully grown, burly man said to the mom “Don’t let that half-breed touch the elevator button.” The mom was so shocked that she broke down crying when her little girl asked her what a “half-breed” was.
– A guest asked my supervisor, who is Puerto Rican, if he was a legal worker and whether he had a green card. The guy’s daughter went as far as telling him to go back to where he came from, and all because he wasn’t able to accommodate their requests at the moment because it’s a really busy time for us here.
– A mixed couple had a disagreement with another guest and the guest called the (Black) wife the “n word.”

I could go on and on and on with examples but, unfortunately, I have witnessed more incidents than I can recall. If you’d asked me this question a year ago, when I lived up north, my answer would’ve been a lot different, but living in the south has definitely changed my perspective… So yes, I do think racial profiling is becoming more and more of an issue in the US (or maybe it’s always been a problem and I’m just now noticing it?).

anartist's avatar

I also believe it is inevitable, as long as statistical likelihood supports it.

JLeslie's avatar

@jordym84 What part of FL? I am back in FL and feel actual relief to be back in a diverse place. I know two biracial (black and white) couples just in my current apartment complex and my gym has people who have immigrated from all over the world. In TN I always felt like racial issues loomed over the community and I only knew one one set of friends where one was white and one was black. I don’t think I ever saw a biracial couple once, forget about whether I knew them or not. The division in the community was blatant. Many many stereotypes were said behind closed doors. But, parts of FL definitely are more racist than others.

jordym84's avatar

@JLeslie I live in Orlando. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very diverse place and I see people of every background here. My examples only go to show that, if these sorts of incidents are happening in a city as diverse as Orlando, I can’t even begin to imagine what goes on in less diverse and accepting places.

I went to TN with a friend at the end of last year and, during my 5 days there, I did not see a single non-White person in her town. Everyone was always super nice to me so I wasn’t too concerned. The only time I felt out of place was when we went to a crowded restaurant and I noticed everyone staring at me as I was the only non-White person in there. I stuck out like a sore thumb, but it didn’t bug me and I didn’t feel threatened, I just found it rather amusing.

cutiepi92's avatar

random note: I live in GA so my opinion or view may be very different than those who don’t live in the aka “Dirty South” lol. I have had family members that participated heavily in the civil rights movement and have been around people who’s families go way back into slavery times. So clearly the mentality here may be a little different than someone who lives in the Midwest or up north

JLeslie's avatar

@jordym84 Even in TN I would argue the majority, the vast majority, like 95%+ are not racist per se. It depends how you define racist really.

It’s rare to find blatant racism in a place that is extremely white. It’s more apparent in places that actually have a lot of one minority, because the majority feels like the minority is encroaching so to speak, or threatening in some way. Plus, and this will sound awful I know, it is easy to be idealistic or ignorant from afar. The racism has a lot to do with a clash of cultures I think, and overgeneralizing a group. The latter being the bigger problem. I never saw anyone be openly racist or rude to anyone in TN, but I do know what was said behind closed doors since I am white. I once met this woman, a neughbor, she knew me 5 minutes. We were talking about grocery shopping and I said I was able to find a certain product at Walmart. She said more or less, “I hate going there with all the blacks and Hispanics in that place. Well, the Hispanics aren’t too bad.” Good she added that last part since my husband is Mexican. LOL. What an idiot. Of course, the entire statement disgusts me. About a week later I was with her again and it came out that my husband was Mexican, and I wondered if she was mordified. If she remembered what she had said. Usually I tell someone point blank, “be careful what you are about to say, my husband is Mexican,” when I see it coming, but with her I didn’t. I don’t know why.

Orlando is an odd mix, because just north of there it is basically the bible belt/south. But, Orlando itself obviously has people from everywhere because of the parks and the tourists from all over the world.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Absolutely!! I see it, hear it and recognize it for the evil it is. Good people standing up for others will be the only thing that can end it. Treyvon’s death, to me, is completely Zim’s fault.

JLeslie's avatar

@cutiepi92 Are you white or black or what? I don’t think you mentioned it. I met people in TN who were still annoyed northerners came down during the civil rights movement, that they should have left things alone. I find that shocking. As a northerner having lived in the south, I do sit back and think the south is how it is because it grew up so differently. The north and other parts of the country have problems too of course, but it feels different somehow. If I were black I really would not want to raise my children in the south, not most of it anyway, of course there are exceptions. Even as a white person I would be very reluctant and I know people who feel the same as me who are white. They worry about their children being exposed to the racism and just how divided the races are socioeconomically in some of the cities. On the other hand, I have a girlfriend who is black, and her boss was trying to get her to move up to GA and take over a different territory. She lives in Jacksonville, FL now, we met back when we both lived and worked in the Boca Raton area of FL. She said one of the things her boss said was she would like it better in GA, more black culture. That threw me. I don’t know exactly what that means? I do know she lives in a mostly white area and her daughter went to school where she was one of the few black students. Anyway, there is a black person also separating the cultures. It isn’t just white people doing it.

cutiepi92's avatar

I’m black living in GA. I’ve lived in a majority white community as well as a majority black community so I know how it feels to be the odd one out as well as surrounded by people who look just like me. Eh as far as that more “black culture” part, I think that depends on where you are. It definitely isn’t true for the more suburban areas but can stand true for Atlanta.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it was Atlanta. What does that mean exactly, black culture? What is he referring too?

Judi's avatar

It is not only in the south. My niece put a post on Facebook supporting the verdict. I of course couldn’t resist challenging her. One of her friends replied with this. I almost threw up.
“Umm since when is a dispatcher a police officer? He jumped Zimmerman. I don’t care if he was only 17. He was a drug dealer, thief, and a street fighter he deserved to die. one less want to be thug in the world”
They live in Oregon.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi Several of my friends in TN put “Yay!” And, other celebratory phrases on FB, and it made me sick to my stomach. Even if someone was fully behind Zimmerman I find it disgusting people celebrate. You might remember I was disgusted when their were videos of people celebrating in the streets when Osama Bin Laden was murdered, and of course this doesn’t even compare. This was a young man, I don’t care if he was up to no good, which we have absolutely no proof of, Zimmerman was wrong, criminally wrong in my opinion. I had made a few comments on facebook during the trial, responses to people, we were basically discussing the case and the laws. But, once he was found not guilty, I stopped commenting basically. It was too disturbing for me.

flo's avatar

Racial profiling is about the action people in authority, like police for example take or fail to take isn’t it? I don’t think if someone feels uneasy/scared in a given dangerous area.

cutiepi92's avatar

@JLeslie The Metro Atlanta area is FULL of black people lol. That’s really all it means. Lots of festivals and pro-African American pride events, as well as having three historically black colleges in the middle of the city. It’s pretty diverse with other ethnicities as well (though you won’t find many Asians outside of the Georgia Tech campus). A lot of people I grew up with don’t really how much of a minority we really are until they move out the city lol.

JLeslie's avatar

@cutiepi92 So, just the feeling of having a lot of blacks around? I don’t know if that is the same as how some Jewish people assume Jewish areas will have certain things. Emphasis on education, performing arts, more liberal leaning politically, parks/common areas and residential areas kept at a certain standard. You find these things in non Jewish areas also of course, but it is kind of like if you know there are lots of Jews in a city you can assume those things.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but are the three colleges any good? It used to be, and this is going back many years ago, that black colleges ranked very low. Also, in Atlanta are the black people truly at all levels socioeconomically in large numbers? In Memphis (a much smaller city of course) sure we have some black doctors and black executives, but a large part of the black population is poor, uneducated (literally illiterate), and there is significant negativity against the white population. Would you say since you are in such big numbers there is less race relations problems or more? Does everyone, all races, work together, socialize together? Marry each other? Friends with each other? Live in the same neighborhoods?

janbb's avatar

(Is this the @JLeslie thread or can we all talk?)

I watched president Obama’s speech last night and thought the examples he gave of mistrust of Black men were compelling. Others have born this out too, such as Denzel Washington not being able to get a cab in NYC. Whether you call it profiling or not, I think it is pretty obvious that Black men are suspected unduly for the “crime” of being Black.

gailcalled's avatar

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flo's avatar

I don’t know if this helps

flo's avatar

And maybe this

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Racial profiling is not a problem, personality/niche/demographic profiling is.

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