Racial Profiling

Four Different Perspectives

The purpose of this work is to provide a media analysis on racial profiling with four different perspectives or view of racial profiling. The analysis will be focused on how the media has portrayed racial profiling.

According to amnesty international, "Racial profiling occurs when race is used by law enforcement or private security officials, to any degree, as a basis for criminal suspicion in non-suspect specific investigations." According to the report, "when law enforcement uses race, religion, country of origin, and ethnic or religious appearance as a proxy for criminal suspicion it undermines national security. Furthermore the report states that nearly 32 million people in the United States have been victims and their lives impacted by racial profiling. Statistics published online at the PBS Website in a report entitled "Racial Profiling"

provided the following statistics in relation to Traffic Stops and subsequent searches on the part of law enforcement officers as to those in the racial groups of black, white and Hispanic drivers.

The chart below labeled Figure 1.0 illustrates the percentages reflected in traffic stops as to those who are black, white or Hispanic in race.

Figure 1.0

I. Media Analysis

Stated in the NYPD Blues report at the Website About.com is that the United States Commission on Civil Rights had announced that the New York Police Department makes determinations of who to "stop and frisk" according to the use of 'racial profiling'.

In the report it is stated that, "the commission called for a special prosecutor to handle allegations of police brutality in the Big Apple." Further stated is that the opinion "came after tense hearings that followed allegations of police misconduct after the station house torture of "Abner Louima" and the police shooting of "Amadou Diallo." In the report an interviewee, Civil Rights Commissioner, Mary Frances Berry stated that, " A reasonable person would conclude that the NYPD has engaged in some sort of racial profiling." The police commissioner, Howard Safir, reportedly "objected to the charge." (Washington CNN News, 2000)

In a March 2000 New York CNN News report stated was that police barricades were overrun by a group of protestors outside of a church holding funeral services for Patrick Dorismond. Dorismond, an unarmed immigrant from Haiti was shot and died in a confrontation with New York City police officers. The accused police officer who claims it was an accident constitutes the fourth shooting of a black citizen by the department's undercover officers over the last 13-month period and only shortly following an acquittal of four officers in killing a black immigrant Amadou Diallo of Africa who was also unarmed and also killed by NYC undercover.

It was reported that the NYC Mayor Guiliana, "came under fire by black leaders, including NAACO President Kweisi Mfume, for releasing information from Dorismond's police record, including sealed juvenile files, and for not visiting Dorismond's family."

In the report it was stated that Mfume had sent word that Guiliani "should stop 'demonizing' the victim and start 'reviewing the police training standards to see what steps the department can take to avoid the unnecessary use of lethal force." Further stated was that,

"As Dorismond's casket was brought out from the funeral home, draped in Haitian and American flags, what had started as a quiet family gathering grew into a loud protest march of at least 2,500 people." Many mourners demanded Giuliani's resignation over the police killing of another unarmed man. Chanting anti-Giuliani slogans, protesters waved Haitian flags and carried an empty coffin, plastered with pictures of people killed by New York police. Speaking about the release of Dorismond's juvenile record, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer said, "I think this is the most indecent thing I have seen in my public life that spans 25 years." Cathy Dumont, 26, a Haitian-born Brooklyn resident, compared Haiti's decades of military rule with America's democracy. "Mrs. Dorismond took her son out of a military regime and brought him here because she thought it would be better and safer, but Giuliani and the way he's empowered the police have proved her wrong," she said."

The photograph that accompanies the report shows a crowd with signs and flags. The sign in the foreground of the picture has the words written on cardboard that state, "Giuliani Negro Phobe" which seems to state that the Mayor is afraid of Negro Individuals. The caption underneath the photograph states, "The Rev. Al Sharpton is seen in foreground as protestors break through police barricades Saturday outside a church where funeral services were held for Dorismond."

In an article entitled "The Loudest Silence Ever Heard: Black Conservatives in the Media" the author Lionel McPherson begins his work in writing with a Clarence Thomas quote which was spoken in a 1987 speech to the Heritage Foundation as follows:

"I often felt that the media assumed that, to be black, one had to espouse leftist ideas and Democratic politics. Any black who deviated from the ideological litany of requisites was an oddity and was to be cut from the herd and attacked.... There was, indeed, in my view, a complicity and penchant on the part of the media to disseminate indiscriminately whatever negative news there was about black conservatives and ignore or bury the positive news.... They could smirk at us black conservatives because they felt we had no real political or economic support."

This speech of Thomas's was entitled "No Room at the Inn: The Loneliness of the Black Conservative" (Policy Review, Fall/91). McPherson states in his article that it wasn't until in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected that "the contemporary interest in black conservatives began" Further stated is that, "with the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the subject reached heights unmatched since the rise of Booker T. Washington early this century." The report states in the section entitled "media exposure" that, "To compare the coverage of conservative and progressive African-American scholars, individuals who were similarly situated and credentialed were selected -- all have Ph.D.'s and hold university or university affiliated positions in the arts and social sciences. This group was selected because such academics are often used by the media as "experts." The article does point out however that:

"Experts in professional fields like law and medicine were excluded along with career politicians and activists." Stating the "most media exposed black conservatives were Thomas Sowell (economics, Hoover Institution, Stanford University), Shelby Steele (English, San Jose State University), and Glenn Loury (political economy, Boston University). Representing progressives were Cornel West (religion and Afro-American studies, Princeton University), Manning Marable (political science, University of Colorado/Boulder), and Adolph Reed, Jr. (political science, Northwestern University)."(McPherson, 1992)

It was stated as being fact that "conservatives visibility outweighs progressives' by a considerable margin" and that "As one observer of black conservatives noted, "If this is silence, it's the loudest silence ever heard." (McPherson, 1992) McPherson states in the article that, "Despite the platform given their views by the mainstream media, black conservatives are portrayed as dissident outsiders, stifled by African-American political culture: "Intraracial pressure toward political correctness...may have led to a kind of self-censorship," reported U.S. News & World Report (12/24/90). "The tragic -- and ironic -- legacy of centuries of discrimination is that it may have decreased, rather than increased, the tolerance of black leaders toward dissent." Stated in a separate report and cited by McPherson is the report that while black conservatives are acknowledged with media access that they are treated as victims nevertheless.

According to the Los Angeles Times in July 1991 even though black conservatives, "wrote one-page articles, appeared on TV talk shows and traveled the lecture circuit," "Yet they remained on the fringe of public debate and got relatively little attention from the general public." According to McPherson, " A repeated theme was that the increasing influence of black conservatives is due to the strength and originality of their ideas." According to E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post (7/4/91), "In some cases, their rise has been fostered by sheer intellectual power and persistence -- academics like Thomas Sowell, Glenn Loury and Walter Williams, for example, are now standard reference points in the social policy discussion." But specific examples of their intellectual power are rarely cited." (McPherson, 1992)

McPherson observes that:

" Reporters sometimes make it clear where labels are coming from, as when the Washington Post's Dionne (7/4/91) wrote about "alternative views among African-Americans to those of what the conservatives call 'the civil rights establishment.'" But others referred nonchalantly to the black right facing "the antipathy of the black civil rights establishment" (New Republic, 9/30/91) or "establishment black leaders" (Los Angeles Times, 7/15/91). Time echoed (11/11/85) Loury's dubious claim that a black conservative "philosophical ferment has exposed deep differences in a formerly unified black intelligentsia" -- as if black intellectuals were once monolithic."

McPherson's report gave the following statistics as shown in the chart labeled Figure 2.0 below:

Figure 2.0

II. Perspective One: The Life of the Racially Profiled Individual

The individual who is the one experiencing…