Since the dawn of American history, politicians across this nation have argued that the public needs to have a tough attitude towards lawbreakers if our republic is to survive. This has manifested itself in many ways, not least of them the unjust policy of stop and search, which routinely targets people of color while failing to achieve any of its stated objectives.

After 20 years of embracing stop and search, America is still more divided than ever. Here’s why this disastrous policy needs to be renounced once and for all, and what we need to do collectively if we’re ever to mend the divide separating the people in this country.

The policy of “stop and search” has many names, though few are as popular as “stop and frisk,” which has become a symbolic term in nearly every corner of our country. For the most part, “stop and search” policies are rather self-explanatory; law enforcement officials will stop a citizen, oftentimes without any reasonable cause, and search their person or vehicle to ascertain if they have anything illegal on them. Though some argue that this policy sounds sensible on the surface, it’s really a dismissal of some of our most vital rights, not to mention a tool of White supremacy that’s leveraged to terrorize people of color.

In the city of Chicago, for instance, stop and frisk policies were eagerly embraced by legal authorities and law enforcement officials who claimed that the police needed expanded powers to crackdown on gang violence and crime in general. Chicago’s stop and frisk policy was an atrocious disaster, however, one that not only violated the rights of countless citizens but also failed to ever produce any meaningful results.

Nonetheless, conservative politicians have championed stop and search laws for decades now, despicably calling themselves “tough on crime” when they really should just fess up and admit that they’re “tough on color.” These stop and search policies universally target minorities, especially African American men, enabling police officers to feed their personal biases while endangering the lives of innocent citizens who haven’t done anything to warrant a stop and frisk procedure.

One of the reason that law enforcement officials keep claiming that they need stop and search policies is that they may confiscate guns from those who shouldn’t have them. Statistics indicate that firearms are discovered in less than 0.2 percent of stops, however, giving little merit to this blatant lie which is used to enforce racial inequalities in how we practice policing around the country.

If there’s one thing America knows all too well, it’s hate. This country has been pitted against itself since its very conception, with Black Americans and White Americans being put into opposite corners of the political arena with the expectation that they’ll fight to the death over political power. Far too often, this grizzly nightmare has materialized into a stark reality that produces indefensible racial inequalities. If we want to stop hating one another, if we’re really serious about solving the polarization problem in this country, we must renounce stop and frisk policies and embrace more just policing practices.

Stop and search policies, even with the help of a Washington SEO, feed into the natural biases that plague every one of our minds; we all distrust people who look different than us, and everybody is at least somewhat susceptible to racial biases and stereotypes. This has the unjust consequence of leading police officers to stop and search people of color, especially when they’re young men in downtrodden areas, which inevitably leads to hostile interactions and police brutality.

America’s growing partisan divide is killing our republic, and we simply must band together if we’re too ensure the survival of our liberties well into the 21st century. The first step towards combatting this polarization is admitting that we’re fueling it every day when we permit stop and frisk policies to continue unabated. If we want to stop hating one another, we must recognize our common humanity and realize that racial stereotypes have no place in policing, especially in light of centuries of police brutality in the United States.

It won’t be easy to overcome 20 years of stop and search, but Americans have never backed down from immense political challenges before, and we shouldn’t start now. If we want to truly live in an equitable republic where the law protects us all equally, we must admit that contemporary policing norms are simply broken. Pseudo-science and racial animosities have divided us, with policies like stop and search enabling police officers to get away with the violation of our cherished rights. Until stop and frisk policies are rejected from sea to shining sea, Americans everywhere will continue to face injustice and police brutality at a staggering common rate.