This is Us star Lonnie Chavis has detailed his personal experience with racism in a compelling and heartbreaking essay.
Lonnie got candid about the stress, intimation, hate, and racism he has witnessed in the 12 years of his young life. He is a talented actor on a hit television show, but that doesn’t make Lonnie exempt from the racist haters.
The essay has made the rounds with media outlets, earning Lonnie praise for his honesty and openness.
Learning about racism at a young age
People magazine published Lonnie’s personal essay this week. It was part of the magazine’s new Voices from the Fight Against Racism series that focuses on the “Black perspective on the push for equality and justice.”
“My life matters, but does it?” he questioned at the beginning of his essay. “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. I actually didn’t learn about being Black and what that would mean for me until I was 7 years old.”
Lonnie’s parents made sure to educate their son on being a young Black man in America. They had long talks with him and showed him movies like Amistad and Malcolm X. He admits in his essay that it was a confusing time, so Lonnie turned to his faith in Christ, praying for “hope, protection, and understanding.”
The talented star recalled several times that he witnessed racism. One time involved his mother being pulled over in her BMW while driving him to the This Is Us set. Lonnie revealed that the cop didn’t ask for her license or registration but rather “who’s car is this?”
Two things became clear to Lonnie following that incident. One is that being pulled over because of being Black in a nice car would be a constant in his life. The other is to hit record the second a traffic stop occurs.
“Can you imagine it being normal to start recording with your cellphone as soon as your mother is pulled over for a traffic stop? I can,” Lonnie wrote.
A young Black man in Hollywood
Lonnie detailed several instances of being treated poorly as a young Black boy in Hollywood. Despite having worked steadily for years as an actor, real-life racism exists on sets to this day.
Security guards and entrance checkers would often confuse Lonnie with other young Black actors from shows such as Black-ish or Stranger Things. Industry events showed Lonnie that unless a publicist announced him, it was assumed that Lonnie should be there based on his skin color.
Even life on the This Is Us set has reminded Lonnie of racism. He revealed a heartbreaking scene that made him cry. It involved Randall’s grandmother being awful to him for no other reason than he was Black and not white. The director shared that Lonnie didn’t need to cry in the scene, but he teared up anyway.
“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,” the talented young actor stated.
The personal essay written by This Is Us star Lonnie Chavis sharing his experience with racism is one everyone should read. People can learn a lot from this inspiring young man.