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Why Racial Profiling is Wrong- When the Emperor was Divine

” The sign had appeared overnight. On billboards and trees and the backs of the bus-stop benches. It hung in the window of Woolworth’s.” 

Book Intro

The book is a about a Japanese American family that has been reclassfied and sent to an internment camp in the Utah desert. Like thousands of Japanese American family, they drifted apart from their normal lives and were forced to live in barracks in loneliness and fear. It focuses on the theme of a sense of belonging as immigrants and reveals deeper topics like cultural stereotypes and the sense of community in the United States.

Book Recommendation

This book is very short and easy to read. The themes are worth discussing, thinking and writing and should be introduced to every one.

cover of When the Emperor was Divine

Why Racial Profiling is Wrong

-Book review of When the Emperor was Divine

       Most people are familiar with the term racial profiling. It is a law enforcement that is “defined as  a practice that targets people for suspicion of crime based on their race, ethnicity, religion or national origin” ( U.S.Depertment of justice). Based on cultural stereotypes, the problems and flaws common stereotypes face and have also apply to racial profiling. The book When the Emperor was Divine deals with the individual and collective needs and rights in a community, which in this case are the Japanese and American communities, and Otsuka criticizes the use of racial profiling. From the book and real life, it is concluded that racial profiling has a negative impact on the society and should not be accepted as a law enforcement practice.

        The concept of racial profiling is against the country’s promotion of cultural embrace, unity and equality. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in “Sanctioned Bias” that “racial profiling is in every instance inconsistent with this country’s core constitutional principles of equality and fairness”. The use of racial profiling is against America’s policies of promoting equality among all races, both genders and all ages of people and could further cause social problems like racial hatred. In the last chapter of the book, the dad loses faith in the government and sarcastically acknowledges that ” I am the slant-eyed sniper in the trees. I’m the saboteur in the shrubs. I’m the stranger at the gate. I’m the traitor in your own backyard. I’m your houseboy. I’m your cook. I’m your gardener”(Otsuka 143). He reveals his rage and disappointment in the police and government, and he deeply understands that he is not treated equally as a member in the community with citizenship. Racial profiling ruins the country’s reputation of being embracing and welcoming, and can potentially cause national rage among the people, and it may also alienate certain racial groups like African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

        Besides violating the national promotion of equality, racial profiling could be misleading and ineffective. Because of the fact that “racial and ethnic profiling caused police to spread their enforcement activities far too widely and indiscriminately”(Harris), the results led by this misguided effort are usually disastrous. The police unconsciously focuses on certain racial groups when they are searching for evidence and criminals and would very likely miss important details that often time links to the truth. For example, when they are working on a case about drug dealing, it is statistically shown that the police is more likely to focus on the actions of a Latino man than an Asian child, which is unhelpful for them in finding the criminal, and at the same time it gives the child reasons to become the drug dealer because he is less likely to be caught. Even though racial profiling helps the police to narrow their suspects to a smaller scale, it would possibly mislead them to the wrong directions in finding answers and it blinds them from seeing the whole picture. As a result, the consequences of using racial profiling are often incorrect and the process is inefficient overall.

      Racial profiling is unfair and destructive to the victims. Paul Rosenzweig once paraphrased a well-known maxim saying that “it is a better that ten guilty go free than one innocent be mistakenly punished” (Rosenzweig). When an innocent man is blamed for something he doesn’t deserve, he is being mistreated and his individual rights are ripped off. In the book, the dad is forced to admit and is blamed for something done by other Japanese; he is represented by them and is racially profiled as a criminal even though he didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. His family also has to live in the barracks for three years and a half just because they are Japanese. So many people lost their lives, became severely injured physically and mentally and were tortured tremendously for their races instead of their actions. The irrelevant and innocent people who are mistakenly accused for what they did not do are the reasons why racial profiling is extremely detrimental to the community.

        Instead of using racial profiling, the police should find other more efficient and morally right ways to deal with crimes. At the same time, people should never use racial or cultural stereotypes to treat the people around them, for that is as cruel as racial profiling.

Information: When the Emperor was Divine- Julie Otsuka

Date: 10/25/2018 revised in June, 2019


Published by Sunny

I am a high school rising sophomore and I love to read and write.

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