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ethnic profiling paper 2

ethnic profiling paper 2 - Katie Whelley English 101 Ethnic...

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Katie Whelley 2/20/08 English 101 Ethnic Profiling in America: Experience and other evidence I’ve always considered myself lucky to have grown up in such a diverse family. My mom and dad and their families come from very different sides of the ethnicity spectrum. My dad’s side of the family came from Ireland during the famine much like many other Irish Americans. My mother’s side of the family however immigrated from a small village in Syria. The two halves could not be more different but somehow they came together beautifully. As much as I love my dad I have always been more intrigued by my Arabic heritage. The traditions from “the old country” as my grandmother would always say, the buzzing conversations in Arabic, the dance and of course the Syrian food have made my upbringing pretty unique. Everything changed however after September 11th. It seemed that my mom’s family which was once so proud of its past now had to down-play the fact that they were Arabs. Immediately after September 11th the neighbors were scared of my family. I couldn’t believe it. I was in the seventh grade and I couldn’t imagine why my grandmother didn’t like shopping anymore. I didn’t understand why my uncle stopped traveling so much for work. The most shocking realization for me was when my mother, my brother and I went on vacation. As we were walking through the airport people stopped and looked at us like we were freaks. At first I thought that they were looking at us because of how different our family looks all together. My mom, who has very dark skin, has black hair and is 5’6”, my brother who has dark skin, blonde hair and is 6’5” and then me. I was very pale, had freckles, red hair and bright green eyes. I soon found out that they weren’t looking at us because of our eclectic look but because my mom was an Arab. At every possible checkpoint she was pulled aside for a “random check.” Her bags must have been searched and she must have been questioned four times before we got to our
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departure gate. The questions I had after that vacation stayed with me until I took a modern Middle Eastern history class in high school. One of our main topics was something called ethnic profiling. Ethnic or racial profiling is when one’s ethnic characteristics determine whether they are considered more or less likely to commit a crime. The American Civil Liberties Union defines it as “the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin” ( www.aclu.org 8/15/05). Ethnic profiling has
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