‘This Is Us’ Star Lonnie Chavis Pens Moving Essay About Racism
This Is Us actor Lonnie Chavis may be 12 years old, but he’s already experienced hard racism in his life.
“My life matters, but does it?” he wrote in an essay for People magazine. “America paints a very clear picture of how I should view myself. America shows me that my Blackness is a threat, and I am treated as such.”
Lonnie plays a 9-year-old version of Randall on the NBC show. In the essay, he recalled the time he feared for his parents’ lives one fateful day.
“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,” he wrote.
His mother, Najah Chavis, “put his baby brother” in his arms and told him to stay away from the windows and that “no matter what [you] hear from our front yard” to “not come to the door.”
“Can you imagine holding on to your three little brothers while thinking that you are all going to be orphans? I can,” he explained.
The actor also said that his family has been pulled over by the police multiple times “because we were Black in a nice car.”
“The white cop approached my mother’s window and asked her, ‘Whose car is this?’ — not about her license and registration, or even why he pulled us over,” he wrote. “She had to go to her trunk for more paperwork, and I watched the cop hold his hand on his gun as if my mom was a threat. I was scared for her; I was scared for me.”
“I was constantly asked if I’m the boy from Black-ish or the boy from Stranger Things,” he said. “Can you imagine being confused for any other Black kid just because you all share the same profession? I can.”
“Policies need to change, laws need to change, the police need to change, Hollywood needs to change, hearts need to change, America needs to change,” he concluded.
Wow. Thank you, Lonnie, for being so open.