License, registration, and racial classification, please

License, registration, and racial classification, please

The Boston Globe is doing an investigative series on racial profiling in traffic stops. Today’s installment complains that police aren’t reliably recording the race of drivers on all traffic tickets as required by law. That has got to be one of the stupidest laws, I’ve heard of. If Tiger Woods were given a ticket, how would he be classified? Black? Thai? He’s both. How about people of medium-dark complexion from, say, Brazil? They would consider themselves white. Would a cop make a determination based on his own eyes or by what the driver says? Perhaps, we need government-issued racial classification cards.

This is the ridiculousness of making judgments of people based on the most superficial reasons. This is exactly why we have laws against discrimination; so that people won’t be put in boxes based on superficial factors. This is also why the US Census had such a hard time doing racial breakdowns of population. America’s population is a big melting pot. There’s no longer any taboos against interracial marriage. So what do you classify a guy whose maternal grandmother was American Indian, his maternal grandfather was White, his paternal grandfather was Black, and his paternal grandmother was Asian? Only a bureaucrat could come up with somethingto cover that instance.

The whole thing—the search for profiling of drivers, classifying drivers by race, and so on—stinks.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli