Critique of the Article “You Can’t Judge a Crook by His Color” by Randall Kennedy

One of the issues that the United States has faced over the years is racial profiling. This phenomenon needs to be addressed appropriately to ensure that the people of the United States live peacefully and guarantee that the majority of them start being cooperative with the police. The rate of crimes, deaths, as well as other offensive acts of various severity has started rising and this rise has been largely attributed to the problem of racial profiling. Law enforcers have been at the receiving end of this argument since a part of them have admitted using it as a factor for stopping certain civilians of the race other than Caucasian for the random check. As a result, various people have joined the movement to discuss this issue and how it affects the nation at large. One of such authors is Randall Kennedy. Being Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School graduate, as well as Harvard University law professor, Kennedy is an undoubted expert in the field of race bias confronting the today’s world. Randall Kennedy in his article “You Can’t Judge A Crook by His Color” also discusses the issues that surround racial profiling. The primary purpose of this critique is to review the use of several appeals to show that race should not be used as a factor determining the predisposition to crime.

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In this article, first published the January 2000 issue of The New Republic, Randall Kennedy highlights several crucial points in relation to racial discrimination. The first of these points is that law enforcers regard it as one of the factors that they need to consider during their war against crimes. The author states that certain circumstances have pushed the police to use race difference as a tool to fight crime. The next aspect that Kennedy brings to the table is that if they continue to racially profile the peacefully set citizens, then the witnesses of various crimes will become uncooperative. This is because it can be viewed by these individuals as a form of corrupt policing or simply race discrimination. The officers can be inclined to having certain bias towards the citizens of a certain race even when they do not actually commit crimes. This would eventually lead the witnesses to abstain from cooperation due to a perceived rot in the system. Moreover, Kennedy insists that people who do defend racial profiling as a possible determinant of higher crime rates are definitely wrong. He argues that race should not be used as a fundamental factor to search a person. The discussed problem can be observed as something that has continued to cause the misbalance in the system as well as a dislike of the law enforcers by some ethnic groups. The author additionally continues to stress that race should not be treated as any other form of social stratification. By using race as a decisive factor in determining crime inclination, the guarantee of equal protection found in the Constitution is no longer affordable to the person in question. It is in this article that the author underlines that racial subdivision only negates a good idea that can be utilized to fight crimes. Profiling should be performed based on one’s behavior and not through the generalization of their race. Lastly, the author adds that alternatives should be sought so as to deal with the problem effectively. Alternatives to the point analyzed can be expensive but this is the price that the country needs to pay to ascertain that there is equality to all people regardless of their race. Kennedy uses several tools to argue that racial profiling is not good for the society. First, the author resorts to statistics to point out why this form of discrimination has been allowed by the Constituion as well as different law enforcement agencies to continue. To illustrate, take the example of the police viewing African-Americans as being drug dealers or having a possession of guns, or a situation where Colombian-Americans are attributed to jewelry theft among others. Statistics is what has led to this form of reasoning. It is what the law enforcers, as well as the courts, have continued to use as a tool to allow racial profiling to take place.

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The author utilizes credible sources to support the arguments that he makes. Some of the sources incorporated in the body of the article include the statistical research, the country’s Constitution, as well as historically recorded events that have happened in the recent past. The author especially integrates events into his argumentation so as to depict the real state of affairs bringing out issue at hand. The main purpose here is to argue that racial profiling is an unnecessary tool implemented by the representatives of the legal system to ease their work. The author presents an alternative to what the law enforcers can use instead of the race factor as a tool to identify and fight crime. He argues that the country needs to spend more on more diversified policing activities so as to cover for racial profiling as one of the basic instruments. An effective intervention to deal with this would be to recruit more officers who would, in turn, offer close surveillance to everyone irrespective of their race. However, a single counterargument is used by the author to pump up his argument. In support of it, Kennedy claims that using race as a factor for legal surveillance can be defended only on the grounds that are not racist. Thus, according to statistics, African Americans are more likely to commit a crime that their white counterparts. He uses an example of Jesse Jackson who argued that it pained him to feel relieved when walking and already thinking about robbery on hearing footsteps behind him if the person behind appeared to be white. This evidently shows the kind of perceived image that racial bias brings to the country.

Consequently, the author uses several emotional and logical appeals to demonstrate why the reviewed method should not be adhered to by the police. In the counterargument discussed above where an individual thinking about robbery feels safer if the person behind him is not dark skinned, the author strives to use emotion to argue that racial profiling has led to biased thoughts about people of a certain race.

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Additionally, he pinpoints that people should be judged by their behavior and not depending on the race that they belong to. Logical appeals are used in different stances throughout the article. The author provides the examples of actual events to illustrate the logic behind the argument that racial profiling is unnecessary for law enforcers and the community at large. He describes the instance where a policeman stopped an African American on the grounds of racial affiliation as one of the main factors to search the person. Moreover, Kennedy resorts statistics and surveys to show the impact of the phenomenon on the society. Through surveys, African Americans, as opposed to the whites, have been observed to dislike law enforcers much more and are less likely to cooperate and report crimes due to the perceived bias by the latter. Lastly, the author points to a logical fallacy to discredit the use of race as a factor to detect crime. He depicts the case where Border Patrol stops random cars for inspection since the people in it are of Mexican origin. In such a case, the people who were stopped had to prove that they were obedient to the law just because some representatives of their race had not been so. The above appeals help to prove the idea that law enforcers and the rest of the society should only judge people by their conduct and not generalize crime due to the race of an individual.

In conclusion, the article critiqued supports the idea that race should not be a determining factor to prove the evidence of a crime. As stated by the author, alternatives should be sought by those in power to wipe the perceptions held by different individuals about race. Citizens should be treated equally and how they conduct themselves should be the measure of whether or not they actually participate in a criminal activity. So as to achieve greater success as a nation, it is important for racial bias to be done away with by all members of the society.

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