The Re-framing of Racial Profiling: Police Violence Against Black Women

AuthorAndrea S Anderson
The Re-framing of Racial Prof‌iling
Police Violence Against Black Women
andrEa s andErson*
While the literature and research on racial prof‌iling has grown substan-
tially over the years, with strong evidence pointing towards systemic ra-
cism embedded within the police force and the criminal justice system,
the experiences of women of colour, Black women in particular, have yet
to be fully explored. Much of the academic scholarship in Canada on ra-
cial prof‌iling focuses on the experiences of young Black men as the tar-
gets and victims of police violence and brutality. However, Black women
have also been and continue to be subjected to racial prof‌iling. An inter-
sectional approach is required to conceptualize the experiences of Black
women, as they are not only disadvantaged by their race but also their
gender when they come in contact with the police. Relying on a number
of incidences, this paper illustrates the ways in which Black women have
been unjustly targeted and their rights violated by police of‌f‌icers.
. . .
Proactive policing investigations, such as racial prof‌iling, have created a
number of harms in communities of colour. These harms include dispar-
ities in experiences in treatment, fewer police protections, surveillance,
stops, searches, excessive force, and police shootings. Attempts to explain
these patterns have examined how young Black men have come to be the
usual targets. However, few studies have considered how gender inter-
sects with race in determining the negative ef‌fects of proactive policing
* Andrea S Anders on is a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall L aw School and a criminal
defence lawyer.
Andrea S Ande rson
practices on women. If the usual targets of racial prof‌iling, for example,
are Black men, what happens to the notions of crime and punishment
when we shift the centre of focus on a group that has been seen as vic-
tims of racial prof‌iling? Black women are far from exempt from harmful
encounters with the police. Black women are victimized by the police
and often in precisely the same ways as men: police stops, shootings,
and racial prof‌iling. In addition, they also experience police violence1 in
distinctly gender-specif‌ic ways, such as sexual harassment and sexual
assault .2 Unfortunately, such incidents have been overlooked in the na-
tional discussions and understandings of racism in policing and broad-
er issues of police accountability. They also haven’t drawn equal media
attention or public outrage. Because of the unnamed police violence of
Black women and girls, the discourse has been constructed around the
idea that law enforcement prof‌iling of women are isolated incidents. Lost
in this discussion is the consideration of how Black women experience
racial prof‌iling due to racialized gender stereotypes.
The practice of racial prof‌iling continues to be one of the most con-
troversial topics in the criminal justice system and illustrates the ways in
which dominant discourse on racial injustice can operate to exclude the
narratives of women of colour. Racial prof‌iling reinforces social hierarch-
ies of race and gender identities. In challenging the common understand-
ing that racial prof‌iling is an act against men, this paper problematizes
the practice of racial prof‌iling by questioning the individuals whom it
af‌fects, and the ways in which it occurs. The paper beg ins, in Part B, by
examining the meaning and implications of racial prof‌iling on Black Can-
adians, specif‌ically in Ontario. Part C brief‌ly explores how racial prof‌iling
has been constructed as a male issue. Through examples of Black women’s
encounters with the police, in Part D, the paper examines how race and
gendered stereotypes inf‌luence the policing of Black women and provides
insight into how police violence remains patriarchal in focus, even when
discussions centre on race. The paper concludes by discussing the im-
portance of an intersectional approach in order to better understand the
experiences of Black women and challenges the ways we have come to
understand the practice and impact of racial prof‌iling.
1 For the purposes of this pap er, police violence includes physical and verbal abus e, false
arrest, detention, i llegal searches and seizu res, and racial prof‌ilin g.
2 Marcia Chatelain & Kaavy a Asoka, “Women and Black Lives Mat ter” (Summer 2015)
63:3 Dissent, on line: www.dissentm icle/women-black-lives-matter-inter-

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT