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What Is Racial Profiling?


Protest Organized Against Barney's Over Recent Racial Profiling Of Shoppers
Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Racial profiling is a form of discrimination by which law enforcement uses a person’s race or cultural background as the primary reason to suspect that the individual has broken the law. The term “driving while black” arose from the practice, as African American drivers frequently complain that police officers pull them over for no reason other than their race and the stereotypes linked to it.

Racial profiling also became a concern for Arab Americans and Muslim Americans following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Because the perpetrators of the crime were of Arab descent, Arabs in America complain that they are placed under intense scrutiny at airports and other locations. Although whites have committed domestic terrorist attacks, they’ve yet to be profiled in the way Arabs in America have been.

Airport officials pulled my friend aside and questioned him before allowing him to board our plane simply because he’s a Muslim American, and they thought he might be a terrorist.
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