Tips for Talking Racial Profiling


Core Message: Racial profiling violates human rights, as well as our American values of fairness and justice. It’s a flawed policing strategy that hurts communities, and most importantly, threatens our values.

  • Lead with values: Equal justice, fair treatment, freedom from discrimination, public safety and accountability.
  • Remember that 84% of the American public views racial profiling as a human rights violation.
  • Define the term and fully explain that racial profiling is based on stereotypes and not evidence in an individual case. Explain why racial profiling is not an effective police tool and is a rights violation, and counter those who believe racial profiling may be acceptable if it somehow keeps communities safe.  

Too often, police departments use racial profiling, which is singling people out because of their race or accent, instead of based on evidence of wrongdoing. That’s against our national values, endangers our young people, and reduces public safety.

  • Explain why profiling harms us all, not just people of color or immigrants. This includes harm to our national values of fairness and equal justice, harm to public safety, and harm to Americans who are wrongly detained, arrested, or injured by law enforcement.

To work for all of us, our justice system depends on equal treatment and investigations based on evidence, not stereotypes or bias.

  • Move beyond denouncing racial profiling alone and also highlight positive solutions and alternatives that ensure equal justice and protect public safety like the End Racial Profiling Act and training for law enforcement agencies.

Racial profiling is an ineffective and harmful practice that undermines our basic values. Far too many immigration enforcement policies recklessly promote the practice. Any immigration policy reform needs to zero in on, and eliminate, this outdated and harmful practice.

We need to ensure that law enforcement officials are held to the constitutional standards we value as Americans—protecting public safety and the rights of all.   

  • Offer multiple real-­life examples. The idea of racial profiling is theoretical for some audiences. It’s important to provide multiple examples that include “unexpected” people of color—e.g., business people, faith leaders, honor students—who’ve been wrongly stopped.