‘This Is Us’ Actor Lonnie Chavis, Age 12, Writes Emotional Essay Detailing Racism He’s Experienced
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This is us actor Lonnie Chavis, who plays the younger version of Randall in the drama, has written an essay that describes the racism, intimidation, and stress he experienced in his 12 years of life. The article appeared in the People magazine on Wednesday and has been widely used ever since.
"My life is important, but does it?" he asked at the opening of his essay. “America paints a very clear picture of how I should see myself. America shows me that my blackness is a threat and I am treated as such. I actually only learned to be black when I was 7 and what that would mean for me. "
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At this age, Chavis said, his parents started to raise him. The class included "long talks" and screenings like Amistad and Malcolm X. But he also saw what real life problems could be when working on Hollywood sets. He recalled that at industry events, "he was treated very badly by security or entrance controllers," as if I shouldn't have been there until I had a publicist announcing me. " He was also often mistaken for actors from the Black-ish or Stranger Things television programs.
"I think we all look alike since we're all black," he wrote. "Can you imagine being confused for another black child just because you are all in the same job? I can."
Chavis also wrote about a scene in This Is Us that made him cry. At that moment a grandmother was cruel to his character for racist reasons. “I cried for myself. Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of whites why I couldn't hold back my true tears while experiencing the pain of racism? I can."
It's not easier for him because he's a celebrity, he said. He remembered being racially profiled in a San Diego restaurant and accused of trying to steal a tip. He also remembered when his mother was stopped in a new car and a police officer: "Whose car is this?"
Worst of all, however, was a confrontation in which a police officer twisted his father's arm behind his back on his family's front door.
"I thought my parents would surely die against the police," he writes. “By the grace of God, both are still with me, and this racially motivated harassment of my father has been dismissed. Can you imagine holding on to your three little brothers while thinking that you will all be orphans? I can."
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