This phenomenological study explored Black male law enforcement officers’ perspectives of how racial profiling shaped their decisions to explore and commit to a law enforcement career. Criterion and snow ball sampling was used to obtain the 17 participants for this study. Super’s (1990) archway model was used as the theoretical framework. The archway model “is designed to bring out the segmented but unified and developmental nature of career development, to highlight the segments, and to make their origin clear” (Super, 1990, p. 201).
Interview data were analyzed using inductive, deductive, and comparative analyses. Three themes emerged from the inductive analysis of the data: (a) color and/or race does matter, (b) putting on the badge, and (c) too black to be blue and too blue to be black.
The deductive analysis used a priori coding that was based on Super’s (1990) archway model. The deductive analysis revealed the participants’ career exploration was influenced by their knowledge of racial profiling and how others view them. The comparative analysis between the inductive themes and deductive findings found the theme “color and/or race does matter” was present in the relationships between and within all segments of Super’s (1990) model. The comparative analysis also revealed an expanded notion of self-concept for Black males – marginalized and/or oppressed individuals.
Self-concepts, “such as self-efficacy, self-esteem, and role self-concepts, being combinations of traits ascribed to oneself” (Super, 1990, p. 202) do not completely address the self-concept of marginalized and/or oppressed individuals. The self-concept of marginalized and/or oppressed individuals is self-efficacy, self-esteem, traits ascribed to oneself expanded by their awareness of how others view them. (DuBois, 1995; Freire, 1970; Sheared, 1990; Super, 1990; Young, 1990). Ultimately, self-concept is utilized to make career and life decisions.
Current human resource policies and practices do not take into consideration that negative police contact could be the result of racial profiling. Current human resource hiring guidelines penalize individuals who have had negative police contact. Therefore, racial profiling is a discriminatory act that can effectively circumvent U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission laws and serve as a boundary mechanism to employment (Rocco & Gallagher, 2004).