‘This is Us’ star Lonnie Chavis’s letter about being Black in America will make you cry

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Lonnie Chavis is just 12 years old, he’s a young star on This is US, and he wrote a letter published in People Magazine about some of the things he’s witnessed as a Black person in America so far. He’s not even a teenager yet, he has some “privilege” as a young, famous actor, but none of that matters. His parents get pulled over for driving while Black, he gets accused of crimes even though he’s just a boy, and he worries for his life and his parents’ lives. I’m trying to imagine how it must feel to realize that you and your family members could be murdered at any time, and how it must be to know that police very likely won’t protect you or help you get justice if you’re the victim of a crime. Lenny’s letter asks us to do that.

He gets asked if he’s on Black-ish or Stranger Things
I can recall the time when I realized there are not a lot of people that look like me on these Hollywood sets and asked my mom where all the Black people were. I also remember being invited to events but then being treated very poorly by security or entrance checkers, like I wasn’t supposed to be there, until I had a publicist to announce me. I think of going to Hollywood events with other actors and actresses where I was constantly asked if I’m the boy from Black-ish or the boy from Stranger Things. I guess we all look alike since we are all Black. Can you imagine being confused for any other Black kid just because you all share the same profession? I can.

He was racially profiled at a restaurant
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.

He worried that he would be orphaned when he was 10, on his birthday!
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.

[From People]

This made me cry several times. I’m crying now trying to write this. This kid is 12 years old! Tamir Rice was 12 years old. I’m thinking of his mom making him go in the back of his house with his little brothers to protect him when the cops targeted his dad. I’m imagining someone having to tell a cashier that he’s a famous actor because he was accused of stealing. I’m trying to consider how it must feel to be confused with people who look nothing like you and how hurt I would be by that. As he ended his letter, so much needs to change, and we need to recognize it and call it what it is first.

stop killing us! ✊🏽 i need my dad and my brothers to survive 💯🖤

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Twins? 🤯 @willsmith #spiesindisguise

A post shared by Lonnie Chavis (@lonniechavis) on

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