Lonnie Chavis, who plays young Randall on NBC’s This Is Us, got candid on social media about the racism that runs rampant in today’s world—even in Hollywood. 12-year-old Chavis shared a letter to his Instagram page, where he detailed his personal experiences with racism on and off the set, including watching helplessly as his parents became victims of police brutality.
One experience shared by Lonnie is a typical day of being black in America, the case of the “mistaken identity.” The actor said when he’s out at Hollywood events, people confuse him for other black actors, such as Miles Brown from Black-ISH or Caleb McLaughlin of Stranger Things, “I guess we all look alike since we are all Black,” he wrote. “Can you imagine being confused for any other black kid just because you all share the same profession? I can.”
Chavis also recounted several traumatic experiences, where he was a helpless witness to police bias toward his own parents. In one instance, his father was dragged out of their home by Long Beach Police officers. Chavis said he thought he and his two young brothers would be orphans. “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.”
What Chavis has endured in his short career, is indicative of the deep-rooted racism in the entertainment industry. His stories, unfortunately, echo the experiences of many, if not all, black talent in Hollywood. We commend his bravery and applaud him for speaking his truth so eloquently.
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