Although African Americans in the US legally benefit from equal civil rights, racial discrimination is still a reality. The US police and justice system are not immune to discriminatory attitudes, with reports showing bias against African Americans in both institutions, at all levels.
Racism in law enforcement is manifested in multiple ways. For example, a long-standing issue in the US is racial profiling. Although illegal, racial profiling has its roots in the systemic oppression of African Americans perpetuated over hundreds of years of slavery and legalized segregation.
In racial profiling, law enforcement officers target African-American citizens for searches, interrogations, and detention without proper reason for suspicion or proof that they were, are, or will be involved in criminal activity.
A common example of racial profiling occurs when police officers stop African-American drivers for perceived traffic violations or to search for drugs. African Americans have also reported being stopped for driving an expensive car or for driving through upscale communities.
Few states in the US collect traffic-spot data, but the reports that exist have shown that African Americans are much more likely to be stopped than white citizens. For example, a report from 2013 showed that African Americans and Latin Americans in Illinois are almost twice as likely to be pulled over as their white counterparts, even though white drivers were more likely to carry illegal items. Another report in 2016 showed that African-American drivers in Florida are more likely to get ticketed than white drivers. This practice led to the coining of the phrase “Driving While Black” in the 1990s. The phrase implies that a driver might be stopped by police because of racial profiling and not for traffic law violations.
In recent years, several publicized cases in which routine traffic stops led to the killing of African-American drivers have made a potential stop from the police a source of worry for African Americans in the US. Besides creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust towards the police, these events also changed the way in which African Americans relate to their children. African Americans have reportedly resorted to teaching their children how to react if they are stopped by the police: to act calmly, to not run, to permanently show their hands and warn the police if they are reaching for their papers to avoid being pe...