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Racial Profiling and the Killing of Michael Brown Essay

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Updated: Jun 21st, 2020

The number of dead black people in America keeps on rising on a day-to-day basis, a fact that has brought about black awareness in the country (Peralta and Chappell 1). White police officers have made it their line of duty to kill blacks whether guilty or innocent instead of protecting them. The paper analyses this issue in the light of the Fergusson incident which involved the killing of a black teenager, Michael Brown. The paper also discussed racial profiling in the light of this incident using Professor Kelley’s article.

Racial profiling is the process through which the law uses one’s race as the primary factor in deciding whether to engage in execution, for example in arresting people, the stop and frisk idea (Doane and Bonilla-Silva 23). Racial profiling has been debated on in several states, and it is considered against the law by some. Racial profiling has brought about massive death of innocent people, for example, the execution of the Jews during Hitler’s time is a good example. In America, today black people feel like their rights are being undermined, the police no longer protect them but terrorise them. Racial profiling in the US did not start yesterday, but it dates back to slavery when a court in one of the cities issued a legal authority to arrest any black person whether a slave or freed (Doane and Bonilla-Silva 28; Peralta and Chappell 4). The practice continued throughout up to this century when things have not changed so much because blacks are always suspects. The development of racial profiling has been developed by majorly the authority that treats blacks differently from whites making them believe that they are different.

It is possibly true that there has been a war against the black and brown underclass according to Why We Won’t Wait, an article by Professor Kelley. In this article several incidents on blacks being killed for apparently no good reasons have been discussed leaving the reader with the question: are the whites deliberately killing blacks? A white policeman kills a twelve-year-old boy, mistaking his toy gun for a real one. Does this make sense? Perhaps it does not. The killing of Michael Brown in the past few weeks has stirred up anger among the black community, but according to the government, Wilson (the white officer) killed Brown in self-defence (Peralta and Chappell 2). The press and Wilson explain that Brown attacked Wilson inside his car, despite the fact that he was robbing and physically assaulting someone. According to Professor Kelley, why did the white office have to shoot at Brown twelve times? It is also rumoured that the shot that killed Brown was done after he had raised his hands to indicate surrender. The Brown incident might be seen as self-defence to the white police officer, but Kelley argues regarding the twelve year old with a toy gun inside a children’s playground, which ironically is one of the safe places for children. Kelley cites several incidents where innocent black people have been killed, for instance, he presents a sick woman whose people call the police for help, but they end up killing her (Kelly 3). The discussion by Kelley clearly proves that there is a war against the black and Brown underclass especially in the eyes of a black person living in the US.

According to Kelley, black people have been labelled as enemy combatants, which is not the case (Kelly 3). White people are just trying to find a way of killing black and get away with it, because one cannot explain why a policeman could kill a twelve year black boy for confusing his toy gun to a real one. Citing the Ferguson Missouri case of Brown, Kelley suggests that the police have moved from their work of protecting people to that of terrorising them. When people go out to agitate for their rights, they are met with tear gasses and rubber bullets. The police act with impunity knowing that nothing serious will happen to them, people go to the street to demand for law and order but they are met with terror as the police no longer care about the constitution. Given the fact that nothing is done to these policemen who kill blacks just like that give them a license to do whatever they want. Kelley attributes this failure to the government that has apparently failed to protect Black lives in the country (Kelly 4).

Professor Kelley has discussed the Ferguson incident at length, but he seems to have left out some important points. He does not for example talk about Brown attacking the police officer trying to take his gun, or the fact that Brown was committing a crime at the time of shooting (Peralta and Chappell 7). One might argue that the professor is one-sided and therefore his assessment does not give the reader the real picture of what happened. His assessment has truth in it, but the fact that one cannot get the true picture of the whole incident leaves the reader with a doubt whether the other events raised in the article are sufficient or not.

Kelley, being a professor, has great influence on the society and therefore the messages he presents whether in writing or talking should not be misleading to any member of the community. I do not think Kelley and other like-minded academicians should be involved in police/community issues like the Brown incident because the issue being so sensitive should be handled with utmost sensitivity which Kelley lacks, at least from this particular article. While reading this article without prior information, one will directly crucify Wilson, not considering the fact that he might have been the one who died in the incident. Kelley also exaggerates his information to sympathise with the side he is supporting which should not happen when dealing with an issue that could divide people negatively.

According to this article, there appears to be a culture by the white policemen of harassing the blacks. According to Kelley, the Black community of Ferguson and their neighbours experience war every day as a result of some petty issues like loud music and saggy pants. The government knows that all these are happening, but they cannot do anything about it because the areas that are inhabited by the black are considered to be violent. The truth is, according to professor Kelley, that the racial homicide and violence committed in these areas is caused by the police and not the black community living in the areas. Historically, as discussed above, this is not a new thing, it has been there since slavery and it has become part of life. One can, therefore, argue that this act is both a product of America’s history and contemporary race relations as although there are changes, people are not working enough to ensure racism is stamped out (Kelly 5).

Municipalities should train their police in racial profiling and racial sensitivity to curb out this uncouth activity. The training will ensure that the police are aware of the state in the country and the repercussion of racial profiling. The training should include teachings on humanity and the constitution especially on human rights. Whether black or white, all people have equal right by the virtue of being Americans either by birth or any other method of acquiring citizenship. People will only fight these vices if they are made aware of their existence and the problems which come as a result. The police being the primary stakeholders should, therefore, be given maximum training on this issue to ensure that they will not dwell on it. They should also be made aware of what punishment will be given to them in case they fail to protect American citizens whether black or white.

America is too big to dwell in prejudice and racial profiling. Therefore, American citizens and the government should ensure they maintain these standards and training of police on this issue will help a lot. The facts that there are both black and white policemen in America should assist the citizens to know that they are all American citizens regardless of their race. Teachers and politicians should also act as role models to ensure that what they say to the community is uniting rather than dividing citizens on racial lines. The government should listen to the citizens and ensure justice is done no matter the incident and consequences. The black community of Ferguson, for example, went to the street because the policeman was not convicted of Brown’s death. It is possible that these people are overreacting but then the government should take the responsibility to explain to them this judgment. It is possible that if these people knew all the events surrounding the death of this teenager who had just graduated from high school will not have reacted the way they did. Once again, one can clearly argue that ignorance is one of the major problems affecting the black community in America basing their argument on Brown’s incident (Kelly 6).

In conclusion, we cannot close our eyes and say that there is no racial prejudice in America and that blacks have equal rights with whites. The claim will be unfounded and unrealistic in such a way that we will receive criticism not only from the black community but the whole world. It is easier to accept the reality and find ways of solving this problem without pointing fingers at other people like the police. The police are also American citizens subjected to the same rule of law and therefore they should face punishment just like any other citizen when they commit a crime. I would recommend that the government ensures that the society and especially the communities that feel discriminated against are educated on their rights and responsibilities as citizens. People should know that rights come with responsibilities and therefore should live like responsible citizens. Once all people know their rights and responsibilities they will be able to protect their fellow citizens hence there will be no unnecessary killings which to some extent bring about division among the people.

Works Cited

Doane, Ashley, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, eds. White out: The continuing significance of racism. London, United Kingdom, Routledge, 2013. Print.

Kelly, Robin. Why We Won’t Change. 2014. Web.

Peralta, Eyder, and Bill Chappell. . 2014. Web.

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