Public Opinion On Racial Profiling Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Race, Racial Profiling, Middle East, Muslim, America, Airline, Belief, Security

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/27


As a concerned individual it is my hope that by pleading to you, an Executive with the TSA, that you would be the ideal candidate to contact regarding the unjust racial profiling of Arab Americans that occurs in airports throughout the United States. This letter is written with the intent to point out the issues associated with the unfair racial profiling of Arab Americans during their travels, as well as options for a solution to fix the problem. I have provided detailed information on the attitude of people and the overall conditions that many individuals experience through a few research articles pertaining to the subject. It is my hope that in light of this issue, you may work towards a transition in how the TSA handles and deals with not only, the Arab Americans, but all members of society who experience racial profiling at the airports throughout the United States.

The first article that was examined for the purpose of this project on racial profiling of Arab Americans in the airports throughout the United States, “Public Support for Racial Profiling in Airports: Results from a Statewide Poll,” was from the Criminal Justice Policy Review journal. The article provides a look into the various public opinions that should be taken into account while developing strategies to improve and reduce the threat of terror attacks associated with air travel (254).
Authors Gabbidon, Higgins, and Nelson discuss the practices of profiling that use-to be incorporated in the 1960’s and 70’s when numerous hijacking incidents were occurring. “Those who fit the profile had their boarding passes marked and were later scrutinized more thoroughly” (255). After these discriminatory methods were discontinued and other less racially based security measures were taken, such as the use of x-ray machines to check luggage. The problem of racial profiling aimed at Arab Americans returned with a vengeance after the 9/11 attacks. The study done and written on racial profiling showed an interesting difference in the attitude of many Americans regarding traditional racial profiling versus the post 9/11 profiling of Arab Americans or other immigrants from this region of the world (258).
Understanding that supporting racial profiling in airports as an effective and ethical act is an important factor to reconsider when moving forward with the current practices employed by the TSA security members. A poll of random Pennsylvanians was prepared to inquire the thoughts of the public on racial profiling as an effective tool for the prevention of future terrorist attacks varied based on belief systems (263). “Although the research revealed that less than 50% of the respondents supported racial profiling at airports, those who felt the practice was effective were more likely to support its usage” (Gabbidon, 2009, p.263). The purpose for the use of this article as evidence against racial profiling of Arabs is to draw attention to the complex nature of inclusion of public opinion on the use of racial profiling as an effective and just method to use for airport security. The overall consensus seemed to conclude that it is wrong and ineffective (266).

A Deeper Look at Opinions Based on Race/Ethnicity

Considering the bulk of research on racial profiling has been based around issues of traffic stops or public opinion, not enough attention was aimed specifically at the issue of Arab American racial profiling occurring throughout airports (Gabbidon, 2009, p.345). The second article provides further information on the issue, “The Influence of Race/Ethnicity on the Perceived Prevalence and Support for Racial Profiling at Airports,” which examines the opinions of people based on the race or ethnicity specifically in correlation with their stance on the topic of discussion. A solid statement of declaration of a difference in the sentiment of racial profiling as a reality exists among minorities, such as Blacks and Hispanics (348). “In addition, as noted in the previously reviewed public opinion research, racial and ethnic minorities apparently feel, more so than Whites, that they have been the target of racial profiling. Consequently, they will be less likely to believe it is justified” (Gabbidon, 2009, p.350).
The study was done to examine how race or ethnicity influenced the opinions of racial profiling as a security method in airports to discourage terrorism was effective or not. The results show a high 60% of those polled agree that this was a real problem not a solution against terrorism. Unfortunately most of the data came from Blacks and Hispanics, and more was needed from Arabs, Asians, and other ethnic backgrounds to properly concluding on the issue (355). However, one must take note that using this information in future decision making is important because the opinions of those who are targets of racial profiling must be considered when discussing the problem.
Using the input and knowledge gained from the opinions of the races that have already experienced traditional racial profiling for many years is pertinent to how the Arab Americans, Middle Easterners, Muslims, or any individuals who fall into this aesthetic racial category may be feeling when targeted by airport security. Understanding the negative outcome and experience that individuals who have experienced racial profiling feel is extremely important in the choices made by the TSA in their strategy to prevent terrorist attacks related to air travel.

Post 9/11 Attitudes towards Arab Americans

The last article that I want to present to express my sincere concern of the problems facing Arab Americans and the rampant racial profiling that exists in airports is, “An Examination of Post 9/11 Attitudes toward Arab American”. Several studies were done by the researchers responsible for the article to examine a correlation in the attitudes of people toward Arab Americans as a problem in regard to the racial profiling that exists by airport security. Despite the fact that a solid conclusion of negative prejudice against Arab Americans directly influencing the excessive racial profiling against Arabs at airports was not found, the prejudices do exist (82-83). A negative association was found to come up repeatedly in each study when the factor of the race or ethnicity of the Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim members of society were mentioned in the context of the conversation. Each study found that although individuals were not openly stating that they disliked Arabs, the evidence showed that the prejudice and fear did exist in a high number of situations seen throughout the studies. “For instance, a recent study showed that individuals who are prejudiced towards Arab Americans were more likely to withhold beneficial information and to pass on negative information to unknown persons with Arabic surnames as compared to unknown persons with European surnames, so long as their anonymity was guaranteed” (Bushman & Banacci, 2004; Jenkins et. al, 2012, p.83).
Sadly, the reality is that most Americans have a very specific image in mind when the word terrorist, Arab, or Muslim are brought up in any conversation. A clear correlation exists in the association of the word terrorist in regard to this group of people who are either from that region or look as though they may be an Arab. By allowing for this racial profiling to continue with airport security, a message of condoning the stereotype is delivered to members of society. “For example, the Coalition for Secure Driver Licenses recently launched a billboard campaign in two states in which a blatant racial stereotype (an Arab individual in traditional garb holding hand grenades and sporting heavy weapons with Arabic script running along the border) was used, potentially inciting even more fear and distrust toward Arab Americans” (Leinwand, 2005; Jenkins et. al, 2012, p.77). By perpetuating the same protocol in the way that travelers are treated to prevent terrorism, the ads and discriminations of this nature will continue to be acceptable. However, each and every individual who is of Arab descent or practices Islam is not a terrorist. The injustice behind this behavior is unethical by the standards of equality for all. Allowing for innocent people to be harassed in this manner is not ethical or acceptable in an advanced country like the United States.


In concluding this memo, I would like to reiterate to you the challenges of racial profiling that has and continues to occur for those of Arab descent. The articles I have used in support of my argument to convince you of the problem as a valid concern for many travelers has hopefully provided you with a glimpse into how the racial profiling against Arab Americans, Middles Easterners, and Muslims is viewed by society. The opinions and attitudes of people in regard to racial profiling and its effectiveness in use against possible terrorist attacks is not justified according to the majority of the United States population. A re-evaluation of methods and strategies is encouraged in moving forward in training airport security on effectively protecting all passengers throughout the airports to feel secure and comfortable in their travel experience. The deliberate targeting of people based on stereotypical assumptions is not wise in a professional organization responsible for interacting with millions of diverse individuals. Directly all suspicions on just one group based on race or religion is not socially responsible, acceptable, or ethical. It is my hope that this message has properly delivered a firm message that you will be willing to consider in your position as an executive of the TSA.


Gabbidon, S. L., Higgins, G. E., & Nelson, M. (2012). Public Support for Racial Profiling in Airports: Results From a Statewide Poll. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 23(2), 254-269.
Gabbidon, S. L., Penn, E. B., Jordan, K. L., & Higgins, G. E. (2009). The Influence of Race/Ethnicity on the Perceived Prevalence and Support for Racial Profiling at Airports. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 20(3), 344-358.
Jenkins, W. J., Ruppel, S. E., Kizer, J. B., Yehl, J. L., & Griffin, J. L. (2012). An Examination of Post 9-11 Attitudes towards Arab Americans. North American Journal Of Psychology, 14(1), 77-84.

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