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Unheard Stories of

Casual Discrimination

Carlos Cardenas

Brother | Educator | Mentor

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September is the month we celebrate Hispanic heritage. Specifically, my family celebrates Mexican Independence Day. I have many memories of going to Fiestas Patrias at the Seattle Center from my youth. It brings back so many great memories of being with the different people of my culture within the greater Seattle community. 

One can assume that it's a special time every year and those great times will forever be cemented in my mind. 

As I got older, my dad wanted to expand my mind by taking me to different cities for this celebration. One year he took me to the bay area so we could visit different cities in the area to see how they got down. The main event for us was going down in the mission district of San Francisco where the majority of people were from all over Latin America. San Francisco's celebration was beautiful, eye opening, fun, diverse, and sensational. We rode that high into the next day and really couldn't stop talking about how much fun it was. 

The next day we decided to take a day trip to Carmel, California. Our conversation was almost non-stop about how fun the day before was and we started thinking about where could go the following year. As we approached the exit, the excitement of discovering a new town was fully setting in. 

Five minutes off of the freeway we were stopped by police. 

From the loud speaker of the police car, we were asked "not to move" and to "turn the car off". One police car turned into three cars, with guns drawn on our vehicle. Both of us were confused, scared, and curious to why we were pulled over. 

With their guns still drawn, the police approached our car. Still, with no clue to as why we were being pulled over, they again demanded us to remain still with hands on the steering wheel/dashboard. 

Guns still pointed at us, and without explanation, we were forcefully taken out of the car and handcuffed against the car while they checked our records. Some time later it was clear to the police that we weren't the "suspects" they were looking for. 

When asked, the police finally said we fit the description of two brown men who had stolen a car (we were in a rental car that had the barcode of a rental car) who had committed a crime. They finally let us go. 

This wasn't a surprise to either of us but it tainted an experience that started out beautiful.

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