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Racial Profiling as a Vicious Circle

“In a culture that promises equality but delivers hierarchy, everyone is risk rich, everyone a victim and a perpetrator.”
(Mc Dermott, et al., 2009, p.103)

We cannot talk about youth media and educational justice without pointing out the unbalanced authority and power owned by men in uniform. As it is the case in many countries, ID control based on appearance, often labeled “racial profiling” or “stop and frisk,” is a plague. Some communities are facing this struggle everyday, and consequently develop hostile feelings toward police who do not appear to be protective but to be oppressive.

In France, a magistrate once said: “We don’t realize that this is the ID control itself that provokes crimes. At first, we have a person who did nothing; he was not supposed to be controlled and ID-checked, but then, at the end of the day, he is pursued by justice for a crime directly incited because of the ID control.” (Bonelli, 2003, p.40)

In France,

– Black people are 6 times more likely to be controlled than a white person. – North-Africans are 8 times more likely to be controlled. – Youth are 7.9 times more likely to be controlled than adults.

On this topic, the Open Society Foundation started to research and advocate against racial profiling in France. They made a video,  Equality Betrayed: The Impact of Ethnic Profiling in Francethat voiced the narrative of French people who cannot count anymore the number of times they have been arrested because of their skin colors. (View the video at the end of this post; click on YouTube’s closed captioning for English subtitles.)

Stop and Frisk in France, as well as here and in many other countries, raises never-ending issues. In this atmosphere, only fear dominates. This is a fear from both sides: from the youth and from the police. A loss of trust, from both sides.

This fact raises many more questions: when are we going to exit the vicious circle that puts youth labeled “at-risk” at risk? How can educational technology help us to rethink unequal relationships of power in democracy? How can creative media production link police’s narratives as oppressed and oppressor with court-involved youths’ narratives of oppressor and oppressed?

Bonelli, L. 2003. Une vision policière de la société, In Manière de voir 71. Le Monde Diplomatique, October-November 2003.
McDermott, R.,  Raley, J. D., Seyer-Ochi, I.  (2009). Race and Class in a Culture of Risk. Review Of Research In Education, 33(1), 101-116. Retrieved from: http://rre.sagepub.com/content/33/1/101

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