In discussing the merits of racial profiling as a crime-fighting technique we must first examine the concept of race itself. Physical anthropologists have determined that modern homo sapiens evolved from non-human ancestors in Africa some 50,000 years ago, based on DNA studies and the analysis of proteins, and that ôracial differences developed as evolutionary adaptations to the different environments into which they movedö (Hocutt 2004:1).
There is no question that there are a great deal of obvious physical differences among human beings. No one denies also that there are groups of people who share common features with others of similar origin and genetic makeup.
The word race has been used in many different and often contradictory ways. We refer to the ôhuman raceö when we mean all of humanity. Cultural conventions going back as early as the ancient Egyptians divided people into four races defined by color (Hocutt 2004:1). In the United States governmental demographic statistics ask for information based on racial classifications, such as Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, Eskimo, and Pacific Islander. The Centro de la Raza, a Mexican-American organization, uses the term raza or race as a shorthand for culture, to mean all Mexicans, which includes people of all racial classifications.
In other words race is an imprecise term that means different things to different people. It is also highly controversial, since concepts of race have historically been connected with the oppression and persecution of minority populations throughout history in almost every society.
British-American anthropologist Ashley Montague (1905û99) wrote a book called Race: ManÆs Most Dangerous Myth, ôin which he discredited æraceÆ as a specious and dangerous concept in the social sciencesö (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 2004:1). C. Loring Brace has discussed the historical origins of racial categories in his...