Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Eric Andre details getting racially profiled at the Atlanta airport

Eric Andre
Eric Andre
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

“Don’t get me started,” Eric Andre joked when asked about his recent, Twitter-documented experience at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Wednesday. After all, Andre has spent the last day online laying out the details of the incident, in which two police officers stopped the comic on the jetway of his Los Angeles-bound flight and questioned him about possibly being some sort of “Walter White” drug mule. Appearing in person on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Andre told Kimmel that the encounter was an example of “old school Giuliani stop-and-frisk,” citing the fact that he was the only Black person in business class, that he’d already been through TSA screening, and, well, he was the only Black person in business class.

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“The fuzz killed my buzz,” Andre told Kimmel, explaining that the only controlled substance on/in his person at the time was the piña colada he’d enjoyed in the Delta lounge prior to attempting to board. He did admit he was worried there’d be “a joint from, like, two Coachellas ago” forgotten at the bottom of his backpack, but, as it turns out, the two officers from the Clayton County Police Department were just doing one of those random spot-checks that somehow landed on the one young Black man in sight. Noting that he, while sweating out an ambush in the supposed, post-security-check safety of the crowded jet bridge, had the presence of mind to ask one of the two officers if he could just say no to the other’s request that they search his bag, Andre told Kimmel that he, indeed, refused permission for the unwarranted (in every sense) search, before taking his seat and getting “really woke on the plane.”

With characteristic self-effacing cheek, the Bad Trip star mimed himself angrily tweeting to everyone from Delta, to the DEA (the agency Andre, understandably, thought was behind the incident), and finally all the way to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Andre gave props to the Mayor for tweeting back that she was looking into the matter, while telling Kimmel that the white Clayton County cop duo that accosted him likely (because of his responsible face mask and the fact that he didn’t pull the “Do you know who I am?!” card) thought he was just another young Black man—one without three-quarters of a million Twitter followers.

Pulling out a copy of the Clayton County PD’s hastily released statement about the incident (which they referred to as “a consensual encounter,” for maximum creepiness), Andre called out what he called the “bold-faced lie” that was the department’s version of events. For one thing, Andre says, he did not “voluntarily consent to a search of his luggage” as noted, and that the only reason they did not rifle through his travel-wrinkled drawers was that he expressly and legally refused them permission to do so. “Own it and stop doing it,” Andre exploded in incredulity at such transparent ass-covering, adding, “Leave me alone. You’re not making me any safer.”

Of course, in the PR statement, the Clayton County PD made sure to say that Andre was “cordial, personable and pleasant to speak with” during his what Andre called his “racial profiling, ’90's-era Manhattan” ordeal. But, as Andre told Kimmel, that’s sort of what Black Americans have learned to be (Andre described himself as more “sweating and panicking” at the time) when suddenly and inexplicably accused of crimes by white police officers. (One might, were one so inclined, re-read the initial description of George Floyd’s “medical incident” death released by the Minneapolis police with the Derek Chauvin verdict in mind.) Andre, technically booked to promote the animated film The Mitchells Vs. The Machines, clearly has no intention of letting his latest brush with systemic racism in law enforcement go any time soon, but don’t worry, Clayton County PD. It’s not like Georgia is awash in terrible, racist PR these days—or like Eric Andre ever goes overboard to make a point or anything.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.