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Institutional Racism, Organizations & Public Policy


James D. Ward and Mario A. Rivera

Institutional racism may be described as a self-perpetuating and opaque process where, either intentionally or unintentionally, barriers and procedures which disadvantage ethnic minority groups are supported and maintained. It is often the direct linkage and thus the underlying cause for the lack of diversity and cultural competency in the workplace. Yet institutional racism, as a research topic, has been ignored by scholars because it forces emphasis on the unseen and unspoken, yet culturally relevant underpinnings of the workplace and societal ethos. Studies touching on diversity in the public administration research often address the subject as education and training – especially with regard to the competencies needed by professional administrators. However, racism and discrimination, as underlying factors, are seldom addressed. Once specific examples of institutional racism have been identified in an organization, change agents may take prescriptive steps to address it directly and thus have a more cogent argument for change.
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7 Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement Agencies


Chapter Seven

Racial Profiling and Law Enforcement Agencies


Racial profiling occurs when law enforcement officials stop and detain individuals who are perceived to have a greater likelihood of being involved in certain kinds of criminal activity. The practice may be defined as targeting members of specific racial and/or ethnic groups based on a belief that members of such groups are predisposed to committing certain types of crimes. This belief is often based on crude and generalized preconceptions on the part of law enforcement officials and even members of the greater community. From this perspective, law enforcement racial profiling becomes systemic and acquiesces to the broader societal ethos regarding race and criminal activity.

Racial profiling exists in law enforcement communities across America. According to a 1999 Gallup survey, 59% of adults polled agreed that “some police officers stop motorists of certain racial or ethnic groups because the officers believe that these groups are more likely than others to commit certain types of crimes.” Seventy–seven percent of blacks agreed with the statement, compared to 56% of whites; however, 80% of both groups disapproved of the practice (Newport, 1999). In addition, “racial profiling happens to both women and men, affects all age groups, is used against people from all socio–economic backgrounds, and occurs in rural, suburban, and urban areas” (Amnesty International, 2004). Thus, to what extent does law enforcement racial profiling remain prevalent in American law enforcement agencies? Subsequently, what are the...

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