Racial Profiling


“Racial Profiling” is designed to help students:

  • define racial profiling;
  • identify instances of racial profiling;
  • explain why racial profiling matters, and 
  • present their understanding in an informative manner.

Essential Questions: 

  • How is racism manifested?
  • What is racial profiling? Why does it matter?
  • How do you explain racial profiling to someone who doesn’t know about it?

Materials Needed: 

Police are important providers of essential community services. They deserve our respect and support, but when they misuse their authority, they can also harm people. Community members must be empowered with awareness and steps they can take to address profiling or other abuses of police authority when they occur.


racial profiling |ˈrā sh əl ˈprōˌfīli ng |
(noun) Racial profiling occurs when law enforcement agents impermissibly use race, religion, ethnicity or national origin in deciding who to investigate.


1. Working in a group, discuss: What do I know about racial profiling? Have one group member write the group’s answers on self-adhesive notes. Then discuss: What do I want to know about racial profiling? Again, record the group’s answers on self-adhesive notes.

Have a representative from each group put the group’s notes into the appropriate column of a table on the board or chart paper that looks like this:

What I know about racial profiling

What I want to know about racial profiling











2.  The Handout, What is Racial Profiling?, defines the term “racial profiling.” With your group, put examples of racial profiling on the handout. You may want to do some research to find examples of profiling based on the different characteristics identified in the definition of the term.

3. Read the rest of the handout. Look at the right-hand column of the table your class created. What questions do you have that you don’t yet have answers to? With your group, do some research to find the answers.

Your job is to teach others what you have learned about racial profiling. You may do that working by yourself, with a partner or in a small group. You may choose your format: You might want to write a news-style article or an opinion essay, or make a video or web site. Whatever form you choose, be sure you address the important points and ideas your have learned, and be sure that your presentation will be interesting and understandable to your audience.

Additional Resources
“What is racial profiling?”

“About the Campaign Against Racial Profiling”