Racial profiling is a method of discrimination where law officials utilize a person's
ethnic background and race as a valid reason to assume that he/she did not abide to the law. Recent events in America's history has promoted racial profiling. These events served as threats to the nation's liberty and protection of human rights, causing some individuals to resort to acts of racial profiling.
The attack on Pearl Harbor promoted the concern for the security of the nation; this concern created a conflict with the nation's ideal of racial equality (Siggins). After the attack, Attorney General Warren ordered officials to locate Japanese settlements throughout California. Shortly after, he was in favor of excluding all Japanese individuals within 200 miles of California's coast. This decision portrays one of the racial injustices during the period of World War II.
In 1968, the Supreme Court decided the Terry vs. Ohio case. An officer took a note of two men standing on a corner of a street. The officer watched one of the men go to a store window, examine it, then return to talk to the other man. Shortly after, a third man appeared. The officer became suspicious, so he started interrogating the men. As the men responded, the officer patted one of the man, named Terry, down to the ground. By doing this, he discovered that Terry had a pistol in his possession. As a result, Terry was charged of sustaining a concealed weapon. Terry declared that the officer did not have sufficient reasons to search him. However, the Supreme Court ruled that an officer is justified to search a man who he/she presumes to be dangerous in order to locate possible concealed weapons ("Criminal Cases").
The recent 9/11 attacks brought about the racial profiling of middle eastern individuals. Law enforcement officials started to investigate foreigners from middle eastern countries. They conducted interviews with more than 5,000 middle eastern individuals who had arrived prior the acts of terrorism. Moreover, officials contacted college administrators in order to acquire information of students of middle eastern decent (Siggins). Today, many individuals of middle eastern decent are being racially profiled; the 9/11 attacks served as the justifications for such acts of discrimination.
The recent immigration laws passed in Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia demonstrate the injustices of racial profiling against the immigrant community (primarily the Latino community). The recent signing of Arizona's S.B. 1070 led to the justified detention of possible "illegal" immigrants on the basis of race. Officials are allowed to pull over any individual and question their legal status in the United States. Similar actions are being carried out in Georgia and Alabama, while other states are considering passing similar laws. These acts are a violation of the basic human rights of individuals. Organizations such as the Cuéntame project have served to confront these harsh anti-immigration laws in order to ensure the well-being of the immigrant community. Its "Do I look illegal?" campaign has served to portray community's reaction and emotions in a form of social activism (Caballero).
Now ask yourself one simple question - "Do I look illegal?"