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Racial Profiling: Research, Racism and Resistance

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Page 1. Racial Profiling Page 2. Issues in Crime & Justice Series Editor Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University As we embark upon the twentieth-first century, the meanings of crime continue to evolve and our approaches to justice are in
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  change will come from adjustments to the political economy. If the prospectof systemic change rattles the reader, Williams engages the reader in broadphilosophical questions such as, ‘‘what constitutes a good quality of life?’’Williams then guides the reader to reflect on the ways in which capitalism hasactually compromised our quality of life, not enhanced it. Williams ultimatelyargues that a change to our economic system will not entail personal sacrifice,but will instead enrich our standard of living while also cutting carbonemissions.If the reader gets to the end of the book and still harbors hopes thatcapitalism can become sustainable, Williams adds the final piece to hisargument, which dismisses this possibility. Capitalism, Williams argues, withits need for continual expansion and short-term profit, is inherently anti-ecological. To survive, capitalism must be antagonistic to nature. But what,then, would a sustainable society look like? Williams concludes the book witha sketch of a rational, ecological, and socialist model. This chapter would pro-vide excellent fodder for discussion among sociology students.Williams does leave the reader with hope. A transition to non-carbon-based fuels  is  possible. But this transformation will require social change.Williams writes: ‘‘It is not viable to win ecological or climate justice withoutsocial justice. The inequality and exploitation that lie at the heart of capitalismravages humans and the planet in the interests of a tiny minority hell-bent onreshaping the planet in the service of profit. Climate justice activists thereforeneed to be social justice activists in equal measure’’ (pp. 117).  Reviewed by Gwen Hunnicutt  Racial Profiling: Research, Racism and Resistance , by Karen S. Glover. Rowmanand Littlefield Publishers Inc, Lanham, MD. 2009. 171 pp. Paperback $26.95.Karen Glover’s work represents an impassioned invitation to readers inmainstream sociology and criminology to become more critically reflectiveabout the very structures of power, especially with respect to racial hierarchiesand race relations that have informed the formulation of mainstream researchin these areas. She carefully addresses the connection between racism andresistance, especially when doing research. In her outstanding book, Glovercarefully contextualizes the foundation upon which research on racial profilingshould be based, and thereby puts research on racial profiling in perspectiveby critiquing its limitations, especially the race-as-a-variable scholarship.Other researchers may share her frustration with much mainstream research,but have not seriously considered crystallizing the problem that has caused BOOK REVIEWS 275  this frustration (see for example Khoury 2009). Glover scrutinizes previousresearch and literature on racial profiling, uncovering the history of what hasbeen critically referred to as ‘‘white scholarship’’ that aims at solely reproduc-ing existing social inequalities. Thereby, she contributes to a well-establishedtradition of research on racial profiling, but which would benefit from greaterengagement with critical race theory.The book aims principally at exposing the dominant discourses that nur-ture white supremacy ideology, even as these retool racial practices in thecontemporary era, something which is of pressing concern for critical racetheorists (pp. 50). It also contextualizes racial profiling research within racetheory and within Foucault’s panopticism (pp. 59). Glover deconstructs thesecond wave of research, or perception discourse, using Bonilla-Silva, Collins,Dubois, Feagin, Russel, and Ommi & Winant, each on an issue. She engagesDubois’ double-consciousness concept and Foucault’s panopticism, which hascultivated awareness of social control; Feagin on the issue of resistance toracial oppression; Collins on the strategies of resistance to oppression; Bonil-la-Silva on the white logic; Russell-Brown on Blackness and crime; and Omni& Winant on critiquing traditional race theories. Glover managed to synthesizeand incorporate all these theoretical perspectives on race in her work.First of all, I would like to highlight her efforts in critiquing past researchon racial profiling. Criminology (where most research on racial profiling ishoused) as a discipline, she contends, ‘‘exists in a racial vacuum yet criminologyis obsessed with race’’ (3). Criminology, I contend, had always been in a stateof calamity and will remain an anomaly as long as it remains captive of thedominant structures of power in society. The discipline, with its paradigmsand theories, can be criticized for not simply producing objective knowledgebut for reproducing the dominant thought of the time (see Pfohl 1994). Glover(influenced by Zuberi, Bonilla-Silva and Young) contends that ‘‘ white  sociol-ogy is guided by the white frame that organizes whites’ view of the world’’(pp. 3. Emphasis srcinal). This strong form of critique, challenges readers toconsider whether mainstream disciplines (like criminology) may end up per-petuating social inequalities if they do not seriously reflect upon how muchsocial scientific knowledge is hostage of elite Eurocentric tendencies.Glover’s (2007) inquiry into the ‘‘white-boy-in-no-white-boy-zone’’phenomenon demonstrates how she is able to comprehend and unleash themanacles of a potent ‘‘white logic.’’ She is consistent in her analysis and keepsher awareness of the restraining white logic lens throughout the book. Thisrequires an ‘‘outsider’’ scrutiny, which an insider is unlikely to pin down. Suchscrutiny was evident in her interpretation of how Law in America is racialized,specifically the color blind 1896  Plessy  versus  Ferguson  US Supreme Courtdecision, or even inherent white logic in post-civil rights laws. In relation to 276 BOOK REVIEWS  racial profiling, Glover exposes the ramifications of even the 1996  Whren v.United States  and its racialized processes that ignore the racial realities of thepast centuries. It facilitated the maintenance of the social order and status quo,and affirmed pretextual stops. Glover here challenges the accepted logic of thestructure that is attributed to how law grew out of power relations.This white logic, Glover maintains, influenced research on racial profilingconsequentially. Aside from the fact that past research is overwhelminglyquantitative, micro-level, lacks theory, and fits the author’s description of a‘‘racial project,’’ it was not able to overcome the inherent white logic either.Glover identifies two waves of racial profiling research, and eagerly decon-structs the second wave perception-based variant, identifying its methodologi-cal flaws. The first wave, she explains, has little theoretical grounding, isexclusively quantitative, and primarily documents the practice itself. However,perception-oriented research, focused on the objective experience of being pro-filed, distances the experience from reality even further.Much qualitative data, she contends, is inconsistent and does not help providea variety of meanings. Surveys, Glover explains, invariably limit the possibilitiesto understand how race shapes everything. They clearly focus on the individualand the psychological, thus distancing broader themes of racial oppression.Glover, informed by critical race theory, identifies race as a central factor in defin-ing experiences. She exposes the ‘‘it is not race it is class’’ notion as a classic inwhite logic. Additionally, the empirical focus on racial disparity in traffic stops iscommon in perception research. But, such research never examines it politically.Glover, in her research contextualizes the experience of racial profiling politically.For all these problems in perception research, and many others, Gloverprovides a counter approach. She engages her work in critical race methodol-ogy that is grounded in the experiences of people of color. She contends thattraffic stops are a reminder of a much broader system of racial inequality—nota mere inconvenience (pp. 80). The law constructs racialized citizens andracial profiling is one of the more subtle ways that racial oppression operatesvia the denial of citizenship. Here she uses Du Bois and his concept of doubleconsciousness: being Black and being a full citizen. As one of her respondentssaid that they do not belong until they are treated fairly (pp. 85). The salienceof citizenship is the dominant narrative of her analysis. Glover found that citi-zenship was strongly represented in her interviews, as reflected by respon-dents’ embracement of liberty and justice.The second dominant narrative in her interviews is resistance. Based on theidea that there is no justice and liberty for all resistance becomes a coping strat-egy, and based on the idea that awareness of racial oppression is a form of resis-tance, she finds Collins’ framework as appropriate because it frames oppressionas an issue of surveillance. This led Glover to highlight resistance to institutional BOOK REVIEWS 277  power as most important because it incorporates a rejection of white supremacy.Glover’s interviews confirm that themes of vicarious experience, panopticism,double consciousness, among others, are crucial for understanding why theracialized traffic stop is more harmful than what current literature argues.Glover’s work may be seen as a foundation for an instructive tradition inany field. For example, Coyle (2010) found her call a point of entry for the studyof language, and racism. Coyle (2010). First and foremost, her work contextual-izes research in politics and in light of a careful critique of white logic endemicto previous research. Additionally, her work exposes the research methods thatdevalue people of color by silencing them politically, as in the example of thequestions asking what made them perceive certain practices as social dominationrather than what does it mean to them? Her work dispels many myths about raceand identity (like the ‘‘criminal-ness of Blacks’’). She clearly sets an example of how to avoid the white logic, and how critical awareness of racial oppression isin itself resistance to it. Most importantly this book is an example on how to cir-cumvent the white logic in any scholarly research. Glover was privileging thevoices of historically silenced people of color indeed. The book should find widereadership amongst scholars in a variety of social science disciplines, while itshould also be important to policy makers.  Reviewed by Laura Khoury REFERENCES Coyle, Michael J. 2010. ‘‘Notes on the Study of Language: Towards a Critical RaceCriminology.’’  Western Criminology Review  11(1):11–19.Glover, Karen S. 2007. ‘‘Police Discourse on Racial Profiling.’’  Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  23:239–47. Glover explored this in a previous article.Khoury, Laura. J. 2009. ‘‘Racial Profiling as Dressage: A Social Control Regime.’’  African Identities  7(1):55–75.Pfohl, Stephen J. 1994.  Images of Deviance and Social Control: A Sociological History . NewYork, NY: McGraw-Hill.278 BOOK REVIEWS  Copyright of Sociological Inquiry is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied oremailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission.However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
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