Discrimination still plays an incredibly large role in society today. Varying throughout many groups, races, genders, etc., people are currently continuing to live through the struggle of being judged based off of physical appearance. The dictionary defines the word discrimination as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” Much like any other definition of most words, digging a little bit deeper than a textbook interpretation to fully comprehend the word is a necessity. In relation to the researched topic at hand, discrimination is heavily incorporated in the enforcing of laws, and routine traffic stops in particular.
The concept of discrimination is morally wrong and unjust however it is looked at. What is even worse is that this group of minorities being discriminated against are now potentially getting into trouble with the law based on how they look. In Christopher Ingraham’s article, “You Really Can Get Pulled Over For Driving While Black, Federal Statistics Show,” proclaims, “Perhaps most troubling from a civil liberties perspective, nearly five percent of blacks weren’t given any reason for why they were stopped, compared with 2.6 percent of whites and 3.3 percent of Hispanics.” This quote speaks volumes toward the issue at hand. Astoundingly, nearly double the amount of African Americans as compared to caucasians are not even informed as to why they are pulled over. This is where the line must be drawn. There is already no room for racism and discrimination, and now it has been blown so far out of proportion that these people being discriminated against have to pay money for it and possibly have a tainted record.
On the other hand, while discrimination is real and potentially harmful in today’s society, it is also interesting to take into consideration what race the police officers happen to be in the same situation. For example, the statistics show that roughly five percent of African Americans are not given a reason for why they are stopped, but would these traffic stops be considered equally as discriminatory if the police officer making the stop was a minority as well? It is most certainly a very intriguing factor in all of this, because if a black police officer pulls over a black man, very few people’s initial reaction is that the cop is racist. Whereas if it were a white cop in the same situation, the very first thought that comes across most everyone’s mind in society today is that it was for discriminatory purposes. This does not automatically make it acceptable for a black police officer to pull over another black man without a reason, but in the big picture, it simply raises suspicion about an officer’s motive.
One of the worst parts about this issue is that the discrimination does not begin and end with simple traffic stops. From illegal searches of a vehicle to license suspensions and tickets, how an officer chooses to discipline a man or woman that they went out of their way to pull over because of their appearance can be equally discriminatory. Recently, it has even been escalated to these citizens having their lives taken away from them in what could have just been a routine traffic stop. Just recently this past July, a Minnesota police officer shot and killed a black man after pulling him over for a broken tail light. In this instance, it is not clear that he was pulled over because he was black, given that there was a tail light out. Nevertheless, this is something that is rarely ever heard about with a white man on the fatal end of gunpoint. It has gotten so bad that in many places, whenever a police officer even approaches a minority, people take their phones out to record what happens in anticipation of it going awry. When it becomes expected that these stops will go wrong to this extent, something must be done about it.
If our country chooses to turn a blind eye to this, we have seen that a revolt is not unrealistic. In her article, “The Big Question About Why Police Pull Over So Many Black Drivers,” Kim Soften asserted that following the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, snipers in Dallas killed five police officers and injured more. This country is not far from potentially going into a civil war between police and African Americans, and the root of it all is none other than the negative power of discrimination.
In conclusion, many different problems stem from judging and disciplining somebody based off of their race and appearance. Racism and discrimination have been around for hundreds of years in this country and it would be nice to be able to say that we have come such a long way as a country, but the fact that this is still an issue in 2016 is proof that laws may have changed, but many people’s mindsets have not. It is that toxic belief in discrimination that has set the progress of this nation back.
Ingraham, Christopher. “You Really Can Get Pulled Over For Driving While Black, Federal Statistics Show” The Washington Post. 09 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2016
Soften, Kim. The Big Question About Why Police Pull Over So Many Black Drivers” The Washington Post. 08 July 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016