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Racial profiling must be put to an end

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It’s almost funny now — how quickly the media and the American public suspect people of different colors of committing heinous crimes, rather than people of their own race. It’s as if every time a terrorist act like the Boston bombings occurs, people forget the anthrax scare, the Westboro Baptist Church, and even the Ku Klux Klan — all acts of terror committed by someone not of color. All certain people can see anymore are suicide bombers, the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, and that these incidents were caused by people of a different race or nationality.

This racial profiling needs to stop. The public targets and harasses people they suspect to have committed a crime because of their skin color.

Racial profiling is not helpful even if the public does catch the criminal — it is harmful no matter what. People have argued that racial profiling is okay because the net effect is the safety of the American people — who cares if one person gets hurt to ensure millions of lives? The flaw in this kind of thinking is that the public is still only targeting people who are not white. If a white person was specifically targeted to ensure the lives of millions, people would be up in arms about individual privacy.

A Saudi Arabian man at the Boston marathon was tackled to the ground by bystanders because he had been standing too close to where the bomb went off. He had nothing to do with the bombing, but was targeted anyway, just for looking Arabian and being close to the bomb. He was the only victim admitted to the hospital that had his apartment searched while he was detained at the hospital. Even when he was cleared of any suspicion, the death threats and hate mail continued to come. The same thing happened to a Muslim student — Sulahaddin Barhoum — who was trying to become an Olympic athlete and was targeted for the Boston bombings. He will now forever live under that shadow.

Ironically, the real suspect in custody is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a young, white, Eastern European man.

The worst part about all of this is that people feel entitled to assume skin color or race about the suspect because of “what they’ve been through” with 9/11. They feel nothing of accusing darker-skinned people of committing these atrocious crimes because others like them have done it before, even though the public shies away from assuming the same thing about white people.

John Green, author of Looking for Alaska, said it best via Twitter after the Boston bombings: “The people of Boston don’t need amateur speculation. They need blood donations.”

The media also perpetuates racial profiling. Black people who commit crimes are immediately labeled as “criminals,” Muslims who commit crimes are immediately labeled as “terrorists,” but white people who commit crimes are “misunderstood” or “psychologically unstable.” For the case of Tsarnaev, the media made it a point that terrorism “wasn’t talked about” in their home. That wouldn't have mattered at all if he hadn't been white. White criminals are always portrayed to be more than their crime — white people are seen as people by the media even when they are criminals. People of color are debased into just their crimes — they are nothing more than what they do.

In essence, a criminal who is of color is seen as a representation of that entire race. A white criminal is seen as an exception, an anomaly.

The media is also incredibly invested in keeping a division between domestic and international terrorism, though most stations are willing to concede that it is terrorism, no matter who is committing the act of terror. Terrorism is terrorism, even if it occurs domestically.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all Christians are with the Westboro Baptist Church. People have to be judged not by race or nationality, but by their actions and character.