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Psychology Professor Explores the Science Behind Racial Profiling

In an article in Psychology Today, professor Arthur Dobrin outlines the basics of racial profiling. Dobrin, who grew up in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood some years ago, wrote that the numbers associated with the profiling by the police, specifically with the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program, tell a tale that cannot be simply glossed over.

The vast majority of the people occupying Brownsville today on both on the citizen and police sides of the issue are black and Hispanic. That would naturally lead to a majority of the people being stopped in the city’s most criminally active area to be minorities. However, for whites and Asians, the prospect of being stopped on the basis of suspicion almost doesn’t exist in the area. Or in any area. Dobrin sttes that the face of crime has unfortunately become a colored one, and police suspicion has fully given way to racial profiling.

In a poll of Dobrin’s students at Claflin, a historic black university in South Carolina, a scholarship athlete came forward and said that he expected to find himself in jail at some point simply because he was black. This belief is troubling. If police believe that blacks should be in jail, and young African-Americans believe it to be their fate, what basis is there to argue? Certainly not the statistics, which say that one in three black males will find their way into a prison cell during their lifetime.

Dobrin’s revelation that profiling is very much a reality does not do much to address the issues at hand, but for an older white male, who exists almost outside of the problem to recognize it, is worth a mention. Racial profiling is a phenomena sparked by actions from both sides of the problem. Hopefully as more people realize what is wrong, more solutions can become available.

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