Means of oppression called racial profiling

Synopsis : If you are a non white person then you may have been racially profiled in some places and treated unfairly. This blog throws some light on this issue that is like a cancer slowly spreading through the humanity.

Means of oppression called racial profiling


Source: Google photo of racial profiling

Almost every day we read or hear of police injustice done to common and innocent citizens going about their own business. The most recent one happened in a Starbucks coffee shop somewhere when two black gentlemen were meeting someone to discuss something important but someone called the police who came promptly and arrested them without cause, hauled them to jail on imaginary charges ,finger printed them ,photographed them and locked them up just because they were black. They were released next day when the prosecutor declined to prosecute them because they had not committed any crime.

This sort of thing happens all the time to the people of color but not very often to the whites in America where the policemen and the white population show a general mistrust of black and other people of color because of deep racial prejudice against them.

One gentleman was trying to look for his keys to enter his house in the evening but could not find the key easily due to the dim light. A neighbor called the police right away saying that there is a suspicious character next door who may be a burglar trying to enter a house so the police came and arrested the gentleman without asking questions, hauled him to jail and photographed him and finger printed to create the police record based on false charges because the gentleman was just trying to find the key to enter his house. He happened to be black and  a distinguished professor.

There are thousands of such arrests of innocent people who mind their own business but it all happens just the same due to what is called racial profiling. If you belong to a non-white race then automatically you are under suspicion in many countries so the whites call the police right away even if there is no real cause for doing so.

Aren’t all the blacks crime prone and aren’t all the Mexicans rapists and illegals? The common wrong  perception and  such negative feelings toward the people of color is so widespread that it makes you wonder why it is so and what such innocent people have done to earn this reputation.

The racial profiling is widespread in many countries including Australia where I was singled out at the Canberra airport for testing if I had any trace of explosives in my hand. The agent asked me to read the rules aloud thinking that I did not speak English and then scanned me from top to bottom. One woman showed up very quickly to ask if I needed assistance because she thought automatically that I did not speak English but disappeared when I said that no such assistance was needed. The agent of course did not find what he was looking for and was surprised that I was fluent in English as if only the whites spoke it well.

This procedure was repeated in Sydney airport confirming my belief that I was being racially profiled because I was of dark skin therefore a suspect from their point of view. If you have thick beard and wear a turban or wear traditional native dress of your country then the alarm bells start pinging furiously and people start getting nervous around you and ask all sorts of questions, scan your body, luggage and check your passport and the visa page to see if you an illegal or a wanted person somewhere.

I have a friend who has thick beard so he is singled out every time he visits the United States due to this racial profiling. It is illegal, immoral and shows naked racism in airports or on the streets practiced by the policemen or others but it goes on unabated because now they have elected a person who sees nothing wrong in such high-handed tactics of the police.

I have a lot of respect for Obama because he did what no black person had ever done but he too failed to teach the policemen that we are all equal under the law and racial profiling is illegal, immoral and plain racist. He could have given orders to all law enforcement people to behave justly toward everybody but he didn’t so he gets a poor mark on this score. Jimmy Carter was also a great president but he too failed in this respect.

In many countries, racial profiling is accepted as quite normal and the policemen are given directives to do so to catch the few who may have committed a crime somewhere or are perhaps thinking of doing so. Thus the general perception is created that if you are not white then you must be scanned, questioned and thoroughly checked even if you happen to be the prime Minister of Malaysia. He was asked to remove his shoes at some airport to check if he was hiding something there. This created a huge diplomatic uproar that took a lot of apologies from the offenders to cool things down.

I see everywhere an increase in this sort of offensive behavior at the airports by the security people who say that they are simply following orders that come down from their superiors but who tells a stewardess to act aggressively toward a passenger who simply got into a wrong seat? One such passenger was forcibly knocked down by the police and handcuffed and removed from the plane because the stewardess asked them to do so.

We live in an era of increased suspicion, general mistrust of everybody who does not fit the profile of a gentleman so we see this sort of ill-treatment of people without cause just because they are being racially profiled by biased people. This bias is not limited to the police and the airport security people but is found in the general population as well.

Just enter a shop somewhere to look at things and you will be followed by store keepers through security cameras and by store guards constantly until you leave because you are a suspect due to your dark skin or clothes you wear or even your accent. One woman told Oprah in a Swiss shop that she could not probably afford the bag she was looking at so she could show her a cheaper one. Obviously she did not know who Oprah was so here was a clear case of racial profiling of a very well-known and loved person. If it happens to Oprah then it can happen to anyone and it does happen to ordinary people.

There is another case that comes to my mind that shows how racial profiling has gone out of control in some countries. There was an old Indian gentleman who was visiting his son in the United States and was out to take his morning walk when a policeman suddenly appeared and asked for his papers. The gentleman did not understand the accent or the drawl of the policeman because he was from India and was not used to American drawl. It all went downhill from there. The policeman wrestled him to the ground for “resisting arrest” so the old man suffered severe injuries and had to be rushed to some clinic for first aid.

Over the years I have watched a deterioration of general courtesy and overall degradation of what should have been normal human behaviors toward anyone. Now it is based on your skin color and the way you dress and talk.

One German fellow we met in Haiti told us that once he was in Texas sitting in a park and looking at the Time magazine that he ripped a few pages off of that he was interested in and was very surprised when a policeman suddenly appeared and arrested him for ripping pages of a magazine. Someone had called the police because obviously the Time magazine was an American icon that must not be ripped. Don’t they have better things to do than this?

Now more people travel as tourists but ask them what they have to do to get a simple tourist visa and they will tell you about their horrendous experience in consulates that require tons of documents, bank statements and even marriage certificates, exorbitant visa fees, a very lengthy processing period even for a short 10 day visa and non-refundable visa fee if the visa is denied for any reason. It makes you wonder if it is really worth it to visit such countries that are so tourist unfriendly to begin with just because of racial profiling at the consulates.

May be the era of terrorism we live in has something to do with it. The only problem is that the people with bad intentions of causing harm to others due to their political beliefs right or wrong usually get through all the scanners and body checks using fake passports or other such documents but the general public suffers needlessly that wants to travel and enjoying as a tourist. At some airports they even ask to see how much money you have on you if you do not have the right skin color or the right passport.

The world as we know has shrunk in distance due to jet travel and through new advances in technology that connects you to any part of the world instantly free of charge but it has failed to improve the human interaction I am writing about because of government policies that discriminate people who fall into the category of suspects due to their race, skin color or ethnicity. Travel was supposed to be enjoyable but not anymore.

Now a plane ride is just a means to get somewhere. You can’t complain about tight seats and people packed like sardines on long flights, where the food offered is poor and tasteless, where the stewardesses are rude and impolite .Then there are those waiting to process you through their security at the airports, pat you aggressively and ask all sorts of questions like why are you here ? How much money you have? Have you made a hotel reservation and do you know someone here? If the woman with you is your wife then show us the marriage certificate etc.

It is all the more surprising to encounter such behavior based on racial profiling because the countries that practically depend on their tourist dollars to prop up their economy are the ones that show the unfriendliness as if to say that they want your money but not you. There are millions of people employed in the tourism industry who suffer if the tourists stop coming for some reason. The hotels remain empty, the beaches deserted and the tourist trinket sellers sit and wait in vain so why not make the country’s tourist friendly? Does money have any particular color or is it the green color preferred over all others and why?

I always blame the governments for creating the problems in the first place so they are also responsible for solving them. Take for example the question of reciprocity of visas between any two countries. If your country requires visa and a stiff visa fee then my country should also do the same for you. I only know that India has a policy of strict reciprocity. If my country gives you free visa upon arrival then your country should do the same because such arrangements should be reciprocal in nature. But in reality we find that such reciprocity is non-existent between many countries. It is quite unfair and illogical but the world is unfair and imperfect so people suffer.

I therefore come to the conclusion that racial profiling is inhuman, unjust and very unfair so all people need to wake up and realize that we need to be most of all fair in treatment of others who are not like us and the built-in bias based on race and ethnicity or accent is an outdated concept that needs to be gotten rid of so that the world becomes a better place for everybody and not just for some people with right skin color, right passport and right color of money.

Sometime I get depressed just to think about such people who still feel that they are better than others. We are in the year 2018 and not 1700s  but have we moved in the right direction since then?


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5 thoughts on “Means of oppression called racial profiling

  1. Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It’s the little changes
    that will make the most important changes. Many thanks
    for sharing!


  2. I am grateful to you Mr. Saavedra for your very insightful comments on this issue but I can only point out the ills ,the injustices and the inhuman treatment of the ordinary decent people through my writings hoping that someone somewhere will be courageous enough to do what is right. I do not have any power to change the world.


  3. It is a part of a very recent case that has been around the world in the news but that is the tip of the great iceberg of racial discrimination. The question with which you end your article raises whether the century of lights and illustration, with the slogan “Freedom, Equality, Fraternity”, has given all the desirable fruits. Obviously, the answer is no. Already in the nineteenth century followed colonization, slavery, and the twentieth, the rise of fascism. The 21st century has not started better.

    It seems that beliefs and ideas, however correct they may seem, do not prevent many humans and almost all countries from following the path of racist hatred and the oppression and domination of some over others.

    I am pessimistic about the ideas and beliefs that can improve the world, especially if to realize them, they believe they have the right to use violence. I do not agree with the fascism of the right, but not with the totalitarianism of the left. Neither with religious fundamentalisms, whether from the West or from the East. For me, no end justifies the means.

    Therefore, I believe that the violent defense of the white racist powers, together with the political, economic powers, etc., of their privileges and the alleged defense of their supposed supremacy is that: violent, unjustifiable domination.

    I believe that humanity must awaken, as you demand, but in each one, doing what you can to not collaborate with any type of discrimination or oppression. Liberation must be individual to individual and requires a lot of intelligence, patience and compassion.

    The liberation through propaganda of ideas or beliefs, even seemingly correct, assumed by human groups that do not understand in depth the problems of the world, and that are in a hurry to impose an order, even if it seems fair, has not worked in history. To every violent movement to impose an ideology and interests, a movement immediately arises, just as violent, of the opposite sign.

    It is not possible to be pessimistic, however, with the destiny of humanity, simply because pessimism does not help either. Just keep communicating, pointing out the events that occur and understanding what is the correct way out, for me without violence.But I do not believe that I, or anyone who creates a self, is nonviolent. By believing ourselves separated from others, as a separate self, we are already in violence.

    Mr. Jose Luis Ramos Saavedra
    Canary Islands

    Note : The comments of Mr. Saavedra are pertinent as usual so published here.
    April 20, 2018


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