1st Edition

Colorblind Racial Profiling A History, 1974 to the Present

By Guy Padula Copyright 2018
    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    296 Pages
    by Routledge

    Colorblind Racial Profiling outlines the history of racial profiling practices and policies in the United States from 1974 to the present day. Drawing on a wide variety of sources including case law, newspaper and television reporting, government reports, and police manuals, author Guy Padula traces how institutionalized racial profiling spread across the nation and analyzes how the United States Supreme Court sanctioned the practice. Insightful and accessible, Colorblind Racial Profiling is essential reading for all those interested in the history of racial profiling and criminal justice in the United States.


    Chapter 1 – He Didn’t Go to Ireland

    Chapter 2 – We Didn’t Really Know What We Were Looking For

    Chapter 3 – A Spirit of Apparent Cooperation

    Chapter 4 – Hit the Road Jack

    Chapter 5 – There Goes One Now

    Chapter 6 – That Magic Moment

    Chapter 7 – Disharmonic Convergences

    Chapter 8 – Even Hannibal Had a Map

    Chapter 9 – The Bronx Gulag

    Conclusion: Shine a Light


    Guy Padula is Assistant Professor of Law at Renmin University in Beijing, China, an Adjunct Professor in Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, USA, Beijing Master of Laws LL.M. Program, and the author of Madison v. Marshall: Popular Sovereignty, Natural Law and the United States Constitution.

    "Colorblind Racial Profiling offers a fascinating tale of how institutionalized racial profiling was pioneered by the federal government and whitewashed by the Supreme Court. Guy Padula painstakingly weaves together almost five decades of discriminatory policing and adjudication and shows how ideas from the security apparatus (from Border Patrol to the Police) cross-fertilize and bolster the practice of racial profiling. This is a book I will assign in my classes."

    - Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, President of the American Sociological Association

    "The book reveals the deep historical pedigree of racial profiling permeating U.S. law enforcement that sits alongside the Supreme Court’s remarkable capacity to rationalize it and society’s willingness – indeed desire – to ignore it. It thereby demonstrates that any sustainable strategy to racial profiling requires reckoning with how deeply embedded racist assumptions are in the DNA of our law enforcement and body politic." 

    - Baher Azmy, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights

    "This is an eye-opening look into the history and practice of racial profiling. Guy Padula, a Constitutional Law scholar, examines four programs—the racial profiling of airline passengers, bus and train passengers, motorists and pedestrians. Examining police training practices, court rulings, and descriptions of police encounters with citizens, Padula lays bare the ways in which black and Hispanic Americans are denied their Fourth Amendment rights. Beautifully written, meticulously researched and passionately argued, Colorblind Racial Profiling brings much needed attention to the erosion of American civil liberties and the ongoing racial discrimination that has come to shape citizen police encounters. This should be required reading for anyone trying to understand race relations in America."

    - Mary Waters, John L. Loeb Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

    "By juxtaposing detailed case studies of racial profiling in policing with the federal courts’ evasive and at times disingenuous responses, Padula develops an insightful and rich account of how the justice system has aided and abetted the developed a "colorblind" ideology that in substance and effect perpetuates racial hierarchies. An important and richly textured contribution to the legal and historical literature on America’s twenty-first century color line."

    - Aziz Huq, Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

    "For anyone who cares about racial profiling, Padula's carefully researched history should be essential reading. Indeed, for anyone who cares about policing, or for that matter race, this is essential reading. To be sure, Colorblind Racial Profiling, 1974 to Present, provides a history of racial profiling. But in doing so, it also broadens our understanding of the recent history of this country." 

    - Bennett Capers, Stanley A. August Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

    "Beginning with airplane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s, law enforcement agents throughout the US have routinely developed "profiles" of individuals more likely to commit crimes. Often, these have been laughably inaccurate or all-inclusive, such as carrying cash in the denominations "preferred by drug dealers": 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 dollar bills. Using case law, reviewing every major US Supreme Court decision, and delving into police training manuals as no previous scholarly book has done, Padula shows the breadth of racial profiling across US criminal justice from airports, train and bus stations, traffic stops, stop-and-frisk programs, and drug arrests. The book is a must-read, an encyclopedic review of the past half-century of constitutional misinterpretation by the Supreme Court and a willingness of various police agencies to target minorities."

    - Frank Baumgartner, Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professorship in Political Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-author of Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us about Policing and Race (Cambridge, 2018)

    "Padula combines concrete legal reasoning with a sophisticated ethical framework to unpack the fundamental racism at the heart of both American policing and Supreme Court jurisprudence. He shows how these institutions have combined racism and the War on Drugs into a toxic mixture that has undermined the basic civil rights of people of color and eviscerated the Fourth Amendment."

    - Alex Vitale, Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College and author of The End of Policing

    "The everyday interactions between law enforcement and African Americans remain an open sore in American social life and a continual flash point for racial confrontation on America’s streets. Yet for decades, the courts have endorsed supposedly "color blind" procedures in law enforcement. In this brilliant mix of legal analysis and sociological observation Guy Padula shows how, ironically, "color blindness" in the law actually reinforces racially biased outcomes. "

    - Philip Kasinitz, Presidential Professor of Sociology, City University of New York