Racial Profiling: Critical Race Theory and Michel Foucault

Alternative Food For Thought:
You may write a post that outlines three sections of your term paper – the description of your topic and the two analytical sections that explain the topic using your chosen approaches.
This gives you an opportunity to receive some additional feedback regarding key ideas from your term paper.

Instead of addressing the original blog, I chose to do the alternative food for thought question because I felt that this opportunity should not be missed. By doing this topic, I feel that Mike gets a glimpse of our papers and could provide us with his opinions and constructive criticism which will help us better our assignment before the due date.
My term paper will address the very debatable and controversial topic of racial profiling in the Canadian society (and a few comparisons to United States), with a particular focus towards law enforcement. Racial profiling has been prevalent in Canadian history and in modern day since many citizens observe this as an ongoing issue. Racial profiling is the act of a police officers singling out individuals from visible minorities and giving them the title of being criminal. I am narrowing down the victims of racial profiling by focusing mainly on two groups have been constantly targeted solely based on their appearance, Muslims post 9/11 and African-Canadians. There are few members of law enforcement that successfully acknowledge racial profiling to be a concerning and continuous issue, where a large number of them disregard the issue as whole. The society needs to come together to eliminate racial profiling in order to live peacefully without the fear of being victimized by those in whom we bestow trust and power.
The first theory I chose to use to address and analyze my topic is critical race theory. In my opinion, the critical race theory goes hand in hand with my topic after the class lecture on critical legal studies and the presentation on “Stop and Frisk Program” implemented by the New York Police Department. What is critical race theory, critical race theory examines the relationship between power, race, and law. Critical race theory is about race and confronting racism which seem to be deeply rooted in many aspects of Canadian and American society (Pavlich, 2011). According to the UCLA School of Public Affairs: “ Critical race theory recognizes that racism is engrained in… [North American] society. The power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color”. In regards to race, theorists of critical race would suggest that racial profiling is responsible for reproducing unequal race relations (Pavlich, 2011).
The second theorist I will draw upon is Michel Foucault. Some concepts in Michel Foucault’s theory of power-knowledge which I want to and will apply are the notions of governmentality, power, and discipline in the context of the racial profiling of Africans and Arabs. From my understanding of Foucault’s work, would likely argue that “racial profiling is an expression of power” (Morrison, 2007). For Foucault, power is that which represses a class or individuals. Morrison states that “Racism is, for Foucault, necessary to the State: only with racism can state killing be justified, and only with racism can the State exercise its sovereign power” (2007). From this view racial profiling instead of criminal profiling is a demonstration of racism used by members of law enforcement to achieve a kind of “control” if you will, over society.


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One response to “Racial Profiling: Critical Race Theory and Michel Foucault

  1. It sounds like you are on the right track with your application of critical race theory. I look forward to reading your analysis!

    Regarding Foucault, I am a bit concerned to see a reading of his theories that implies that power is repressive. Foucault notes that power is productive – it creates subjectivities, shapes social interactions, and is inextricably bound up with knowledge. Importantly, Foucault also argues that power always involves resistance.

    These resources may be of help:

    Dina Jadallah and Laura el-Khoury
    Arab Studies Quarterly; Fall2010, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p218-237, 20p

    Racial Profiling and Postmodern Society : Police Responsiveness, Image Maintenance, and the Left Flank of Police Legitimacy Kirk Miller
    Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 2007 23: 248

    It is important to carefully define and conceptualize racial profiling. Here are some excerpts from articles (and references) that may be of interest:

    “racial profiling is said to exist when the members of certain racial or ethnic groups become subject to greater levels of criminal justice surveillance than others [and when race itself – not other legitimate variables – is a significant factor in making police surveillance decisions]” (Wortley and Tanner 2005).

    Racial disparity in police stop and search practices, racial differences is Customs searches at airports and border-crossings, increased police patrols in racial minority neighbourhoods and undercover activities or sting operations which selectively target particular ethnic groups” (Wortley and Tanner 2005)

    Inflammatory Rhetoric? Baseless Accusations? A Response to Gabor’s Critique o…
    Scot Wortley; Julian Tanner Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice; Jul 2005; 47, 3; ProQuest Criminal Justice pg. 581

    See also Unequal Before the Law: Immigrant and Racial Minority Perceptions of the Canadian Criminal Justice System
    Scot Wortley & Akwasi Owusu-Bempah Int. Migration & Integration (2009) 10:447–473

    Charter-offending law enforcement profiling [that] can be conducted in terms both of explicitly racial categories and in terms of social / religious / cultural identities that serve as proxies for race and similarly are invoked to justify behaviour that singles out the profiled for disproportionate suspicion, surveillance, investigation, and arrest” – (Bhadi, 2010)

    Bahdi, Reem (2010). “Setting the Stage: An Introduction to Six Papers on Racial Profiling” and “Racial Profiling: BC Civil Liberties Association Position Paper”, Racial Profiling: A Special BCCLA Report on Racial Profiling in Canada. Vancouver: BCCLA: 5-14, 31-54.

    “Any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin, or a combination of these, rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment” (Ontario Human Rights Commission)