In the previous Milestone Papers, I defined racial profiling as the practice of targeting an individual based upon race, ethnicity, religion, or nation of origin rather than actual suspicion (Warren, P., & Farrell, A., 2009; American Civil Liberties Union, n.d.). From my research, I have deduced that the root causes of racial profiling stems from bigotry and intolerance. Racism and ethnic superiority is not a new phenomenon in the U.S. Since its conception, dominant, oppressive groups stripped the civil rights of black and brown people. When Europeans first arrived to America and founded the 13 colonies, they enslaved the native people and claimed them as their ‘estate’ due to their skin tone and different religious beliefs.
In the late 1700’s, dueling politicians reconciled their differences about the rights of their slave property in the ‘3/5 compromise’, which was created to determine the wealth of each state and increase legislative seats which reaffirmed sentiments that African slaves were partial citizen, partial property. Once freed, many scientists and authors wrote on the topic of ‘physical attributes of the Negro’ like the simian shelf argument that promoted the thought that Blacks were the missing link between ape and man. Our U.S. history displays that prior to the creation of overt and legalized racial profiling, whites created multiple ways to separate themselves from people of color and solidify their superiority.
After slaves were freed, local and state regulations instated and enforced segregation. Known as the Jim Crow Laws, they were the first step in separating freed black people from whites due to race. Nearly a century later, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was known signing legislation in support of the Civil Rights Movement, passed the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1965, that declared its purpose is “to provide assistance in training state and local law enforcement officers and other personnel and in improving capabilities, techniques, and practices in, State and local law enforcement and prevention and control of crime, and for other purposes” (S., 89th Cong., 1965, p. 1).
Prior to the bill passing, racial tensions between blacks and whites were accumulating as blacks were asking for the same civil rights as other U.S. Citizens. Author Thompson described racial conflicts in her article, “Criminalizing Kids: The Overlooked Reason for Failing Schools”, stating that the whites grew frightened and anxious of blacks and felt segregation made an easier way to police them (Thompson, 2011). Racial profiling continued to accumulate and was viewed on larger platforms, such as the news coverage of the Rodney King beating and the coverage of Ferguson, MI after the shooting of Michael Brown (Bonilla, & Rosa, 2015).
There many frameworks to discuss racial profiling. For example, mainstream media has dramatizing black and brown people as criminals and whites as victims, whether the information is correct or not (Bonilla & Rosa, 2015). This has shifted how minorities are perceived. Discussed in the Milestone Two Project, research showed that when whites were asked to explain traits of an African American male, they describe him as ‘dangerous’ (Hollbrook, Fessler, & Naverette, 2015). In my attempt to reframe the issue, I will explain individuals who are targets of racial profiling should receive sympathy. Furthermore, some incidents of racial profiling have led to more significant matters, such as arrests and even death. With substantial repercussions, it is necessary to reframe the issue of racial profiling in changing the dialogue around the issue in order to eliminate it.
Racial profiling is not a new issue of the last couple years. Over the past decades, countless incidents of racial profiling occurred from local governments up to the federal government, with presidents, senators, and police chiefs either creating laws or reinforcing guidelines set by these regulations (ACLU, & Harris, D. A., 1999). Still, numerous politicians, civil rights activists and social campaigns have created lasting change that has positively impacted the lives of minorities. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, at the national and state level has created multiple anti racial profiling campaigns, and filed several lawsuits against police that are accused of racial profiling (ACLU, & Harris, D. A., 1999)
I recognize politicians that work to eliminate racial profiling like Assembly Member Shirley Nash Weber, who passed The Racial & Identity Profiling Act of 2015, which requires California law enforcement to report data on complaints about racial profiling, and Alabama state Senator Rodger Smitherman who wrote proposed Alabama Senate Bill 21 that will define and stop racial profiling (State of California Department of Justice, 2019; Legiscan, 2019). Lastly, the #BlackLivesMatter movement brought awareness surrounding the profiling of black men and women that unfortunately murdered by police officers.
These efforts by countless individuals and organizations has shown that if interventions were not made, racial profiling would be more prevalent and we would lack statistical data. This measures are an attempt to rectify and mend the relationship between whites and Indigenous People, people of the African Diaspora, Latinxs, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Middle Eastern people.
I have identified primary and secondary tactics to employ for my campaign against racial profiling. My main strategies are to bring awareness of racial profiling and create legislative change. I will bring awareness on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter and create Public Service Advertisements to fuel legislative changes. Also, I will continue to lobby at the local and state level with hopes of working towards the federal level. One reason I have chosen these methods is to eradicate shame surrounding victimization. Racial profiling has long term effects on the victims (Weitzer & Tuch, 2002). Research studies have shown that when a person is able to write their own life story, it leads to authentic leadership (Shamir & Eilam, 2005); Therefore, primary and secondary strategies that will empower the individual will create leaders within this campaign as well as humanize victims to form allies and create long lasting change.
First, using Social Media, I will utilize the hashtag, #IamMoreThan and paired it with the slogan: “I am more than my skin color, I am more than my religion, I am more than what you perceive me. Know me before you judge me.” As mentioned previously, the use of this hashtag would be paired with stories of racial profiling in attempts to address and dispel stereotypes aout minorities who are perceived as ‘dangerous’. Bonilla, & Rosa stated in their journal article entitled, “#Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United State”, that social media is the fastest way to disseminate information with our growing and changing world. Also, they also mentioned that Twitter has become a platform for activism against topics like racism and provides a place for more accurate media representation (Bonilla & Rosa, 2015).
They further discuss the importance of a #Hashtag because it allows for users to find information on their chosen topic with ease (Bonilla & Rosa, 2015). For my campaign, I want to make it as easy as possible for activists to find data and information about racial profiling, scheduled events or which petitions to sign that support anti racial profiling laws. On my campaign’s Twitter and Instagram page, followers can view videos of victims sharing their story, spotlights on activists that area creating change and information on proposed bills that can become anti-racial profiling laws. In addition to disseminating information, the purpose of having an online presence is to allow followers to interact with my campaign and other supports, by engaging in dialogue, liking posts, commenting, sharing or retweeting.
Next, my campaign would work with victims or victim’s families to create Public Service Announcements. PSA’s are public information that addresses critical social issues in order to raise awareness and motivate action. Although PSA’s seem similar to videos posted on Social Media, PSA’s will have detail and focus on the individual and the issue at large. The PSA’s will be seen on Social Media Platforms, submitted to television networks and more importantly, our YouTube Channel. Although television seems like an advantageous choice, researchers have found that user generated content that is created on YouTube reaches younger people more effectively (Paek, Hove, Jeong & Kim, 2011).
Lobbying is an integral and significant portion of my campaign against racial profiling. With the ACLU, we would need to meet with politicians to provide information about racial profiling, view PSA’s, and explain why laws are necessary for long-term change. In my Milestone 3 Paper, I discussed how I would meet with Alabama state Senator Rodger Smitherman, who was proposing an anti-racial profiling bill to the state senate. We, with the ACLU of Alabama, would work together to identify other senators who would vote to pass this bill and provide them with information in order to persuade their vote. I believe this is a strong strategy and would continue doing this in the other 19 states that do not have any laws against racial profiling (NAACP, 2014). Although this may be a lengthy process, transformation at the macro level will create the most significant change towards equality.
The goals for the future direction of my advocacy plan including:
- implement at least one law per state prohibiting racial profiling;
- implement other laws to protect minorities against racial profiling; and
- create dialogue between people of color and others in order to form allies.
The vision I have for the future direction of advocacy plans include:
- educate and empower minorities;
- continue campaigns to educate allies, including whites and police officers and
- build allies such as social media activist and politicians to create long term change.
Allies are important in creating change. Researchers believe that institutionalized racism and oppression, such as racial profiling, will continue until members of dominant social groups become actively involved in ending it (Duhigg, Rostosky, Gray, & Wimsatt, 2010). Therefore, allies in positions of power can create long lasting change through policy change. Some allies that my campaign would work with is the national and state-run ACLU, that could help us with lobbying to pass laws against racial profiling and upholding these same laws. I will need supports and partners like victims of racial profiling to create visual content like videos and PSA’s.
In order to sustain the campaign momentum, I will continue to have PSA’s, educate the masses and connecting with politicians. A significant part to continuing momentum is to meet with Police Departments throughout the United States to provide information about racial and cultural sensitivity and why it is important to not stereotype by race or religion. This will allow for people to see the campaign at the forefront on Social Media, YouTube and possibly television that is making positive change for the United States as a whole.