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This Is Us' Lonnie Chavis Shares His Heartbreaking Experiences with Racism

This Is Us' Lonnie Chavis Shares His Heartbreaking Experiences with Racism

Lonnie Chavis, 12, stars as young Randall in This Is Us and he’s sharing his experiences with racism in a poignant and heartbreaking essay.

“I can recall a time on set when I started crying listening to an actor portray a racist grandmother toward my character. The director and writers told me that they didn’t need me to cry for the scene. However, it was hard for me not to cry as I witnessed what I had just learned was my reality. I wasn’t acting, I was crying for me. Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of white people why I couldn’t hold back my real tears while experiencing the pain of racism? I can,” Lonnie wrote in an essay for People.

He continued, “I was racially profiled at a restaurant in San Diego while visiting one of my young Black costars. Her Black cousins and I were accused by a young white girl working the cash register of trying to steal the few tips in her tip cup. It was a huge ordeal that almost led to police being called on us while we were with our parents — until some wonderful fan who happened to be white told them that I was a professional actor on two television series currently airing and argued that he doubted I would need to steal her few dollars. My mother never played the ‘he’s an actor’ card. She definitely knew and argued that we were being targeted merely because we were a group of young Black children. Can you imagine someone thinking you are a thief just because of the color of your skin? I can.”

Another instance he described included, “My 10th birthday fell on Thanksgiving in 2018. After coming home late with my family from my birthday party, a Long Beach police officer twisted my dad’s arm behind his back and pulled him from our doorstep with the door opened, claiming he was being detained for a traffic ticket. My mother ran to my room and told me with fear in her eyes to go into my little brother’s room and stay away from the windows. She put my new baby brother in my arms and told me that no matter what I hear from our front yard to not come to the door — no matter what. I held my baby brother and cried as I could hear my mother yelling outside of our home. I thought my parents were for sure going to die going up against the police. By the grace of God, they are both still with me, and that racially motivated harassment against my father was dismissed. Can you imagine holding on to your three little brothers while thinking that you are all going to be orphans? I can.”

Lonnie concluded with, “Change has got to happen for unarmed Black citizens to not live in fear of being murdered. Can you imagine being me in 2020 and wondering what the future holds? I can’t.”

Find out about the Black Lives Matter movement in Hollywood.

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Photos: Getty
Posted to: Lonnie Chavis, This is Us

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