Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jul 2001
Source: The Post and Courier (SC)
Copyright: 2001 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Jacob E Butler


Racial profiling A recent letter suggested that the concern among many 
African-Americans with the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement 
in this country is exaggerated, and that attention would be better directed 
at such issues as "black on black" crime. If that writer had the experience 
that significant numbers of young African-American males regularly face as 
they go about their daily existence, he might not be quite so dismissive of 
the racial profiling question. By definition, racial profiling involves the 
deliberate use of police power or legal force against a particular group 
simply because of who they are. Their mere existence represents sufficient 
cause for repressive action by agencies of the state. If this matter is a 
trivial pursuit, then why does the United States routinely chastise 
governments in countries like China for engaging in similar behavior 
against segments of their own citizenry? Those who are subjected to racial 
profiling suffer an infringement upon the most fundamental civil liberty, 
that being the right to go about their personal lives without undue 
interference by government. By way of comparison, the overwhelming majority 
of mass school shootings in this society are carried out by white males. 
Would white parents in this community not consider it an important matter 
if their sons being white male teen-agers was in and of itself sufficient 
cause for law enforcement organizations to consistently follow, stop and 
detain them? I suspect so. As an African-American male as well as the 
father of three sons, racial profiling is an important matter because those 
of us who are affected by it suffer arbitrary intrusions into our lives by 
government that others do not face for reasons that are entirely beyond our 
control. Arguing about exactly how much racial profiling goes on misses the 
point entirely. The very fact that the condition exists at all is the 
relevant consideration. Working to attain the quality of freedom that our 
ancestors fought and died to achieve requires the African-American 
community to fight this affront to liberty and equality while we also 
address whatever other problems might impede our collective progress. The 
writer should be assured that it is possible for African-Americans to 
address more than one objective at a time. Our continued existence in this 
country and the progress made despite what might be seen as insurmountable 
obstacles is ample testimony to that fact.

Jacob E. Butler

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