"I now know how it feels to be profiled by different races. Both black and white police officers treated me differently."
Editor's Note: Andre Rodrigues's story, "Racially Profiled," was written for the HCC Theater Department's spring 2021 production of "In These Times."
By Andre Rodrigues
My name is Andre Rodrigues, and I would like to tell you my story.
One day, a friend of mine came to pick me up from my house to go play basketball at the park. I was in the back seat while my other two friends, Josh and Kevin, were in the front. Kevin blew a stop sign at the end of my street and cut off a state trooper. A black cop came up to the window and asked, "Do you know why I pulled you over?" and Kevin replied, "Yes sir, I blew the stop sign."
All of the sudden the cop takes a look at Josh in the passenger seat, then peaking in the back at me.
The trooper became aggressive toward me; it was like he completely forgot about the reason why we were pulled over in the first place. He yelled to me: "HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING BACK THERE" I replied, "Nothing, sir, I am just playing a game on my phone." He yells again, "WHAT'S YOUR NAME? DO YOU HAVE ID ON YOU?" I said, "No, sir, I did not bring my wallet with me because we were going to play...." and he cuts me off and goes "WHAT KIND OF ____ GROWN A** MAN DOESN'T CARRY THEIR WALLET ON THEM."
He then stormed off to his car and came back to my friend with a warning. It took me a little while to process what just happened to me and for what reason? I am of Portuguese descent and usually people mistake me for being Puerto Rican, Dominican or some other type of Latino. I get it all the time, so it does not bother me but I felt that black trooper had something against Latinos for him to treat me the way he did for no reason.
The second time I was profiled, it was by a white cop. Kevin was driving us again and this time his license was suspended and we were on our way to pick up my other friend, Brian. Kevin's brother is a cop in the town of Ludlow where we live. His brother saw us driving in his car and he knew Kevin was not supposed to be driving, so he followed us and pulled us over right in front of Brian's house. He came up to the window and started yelling at Kevin, asking why he was driving when he knew he was not supposed to. He then peaked at me and told us to get out of the car. This was in the middle of summer, and with my olive skin I get extremely dark during the summer months. He searched the car and then us. He had other cops come and they were focusing on me as if I was doing something wrong. They searched me again only, except this time more thoroughly. They found nothing, and they made me call for a ride home.
Later on, Kevin told me his brother said to him "Why the ___ are you hanging out with that N word. He thought I was black and that's the first time in my life where I was perceived as being a black man.
After Kevin's brother said that to him, Kevin said, "Dude, are you joking. He's not black, he is Portuguese," and his attitude toward me shifted. I now know how it feels to be profiled by different races. Both black and white police officers treated me differently, not because I was doing anything wrong but because they just truly were racist human beings. After I fell victim to racial profiling, I understood racism, personally.