No matter what age you are, racism still finds a way to rear its ugly head in the lives of Black people.
“My life matters, but does it?” That’s how the 12-year-old actor, Lonnie Chavis, star of the hit NBC drama, This Is Us starts off an essay he penned for People Magazine. He follows by adding, “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.”
The actor who plays the 9-year-old version of Randall on the show details an incident he experienced where he feared the lives of his parents while returning home from celebrating his 10th birthday.
“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 describes during the harrowing ordeal how his mother, Najah Chavis, instructed him to “put his baby brother” in his arms, telling him to stay away from the windows and “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.”
In the essay, Chavis even recalls his mom being pulled over multiple times for DWB (driving while Black).
“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. 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.”
The young actor hasn’t been immune to racial profiling either. Chavis speaks about the many times he has been confused for other young Black actors.
“I was constantly asked if I’m the boy from Black-ish or the boy from Stranger Things. Can you imagine being confused for any other Black kid just because you all share the same profession? I can.”
Chavis ended his powerful and painfully insightful essay by calling for necessary reform in the country and in the industry he works in.
“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.”
This young man is wise beyond his years, it’s sad that this is the trauma that Black children have to experience growing up.
Photo: Jason Mendez / Getty