racial profilingLast updated
Racial profiling involves discriminatory targeting of people based on their perceived race or ethnicity. It can come from law enforcement, school personnel, or employers. This includes discriminatory omissions — when law enforcement does not act to investigate or prosecute crimes perpetrated against certain populations. Racial profiling is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s equal protections clause. Examples of racial profiling include “stop and frisk” or “driving while Black,” in which Black motorists are stopped at disproportionately higher rates compared to white people.
A lack of diversity in media can contribute to coverage that reinforces these biases; for instance, some analyses of media reports have found that Black people are overrepresented as perpetrators of crime relative to actual arrest rates (though findings vary depending on the parameters of the studies and may not paint a full picture). 2020 polling by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 37 percent of Americans think news media is performing poorly or very poorly with efforts to diversify staff.
- Racial Profiling: Definition (American Civil Liberties Union)
- Racial Profiling: Constitutional and Statutory Considerations for Congress (Congressional Research Service)
- Racial Profiling: Past, Present, and Future (American Bar Association)
- Racial Profiling in the Newsroom (Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly)
- How training in equity, diversity and inclusion informs how we report the news (News 5 Cleveland)
Racial profiling is a practice in which law enforcement, and sometimes institutions or individuals in authority, single out people for suspicion of committing crimes with no evidence, based on their perceived race or ethnicity. A lack of diversity in media can contribute to coverage that reinforces these biases.