Lonnie Chavis Opens Up About Experiences With Racism On & Off Set

Lonnie Chavis is detailing his experiences with racism.

The 12-year-old This Is Us actor wrote a letter sharing what he’s gone through in life, and being a young black actor in Hollywood.

“My life matters, but does it? 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,” he wrote in an essay for People. ” I thought I was a peach man, so my parents educated me on being a Black man really quick with long talks, books and movies like Amistad and Malcolm X. I was overwhelmed with confusion, fear and sadness. I had to lean on my faith in Christ for hope, protection and understanding.”

“Being a young Black boy in Hollywood made it even more fearful. 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,” he continued. “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.”

“I can recall a time on set when I started crying listening to an actor portray a racist grandmother toward my character. The director and writers told me that they didn’t need me to cry for the scene. However, it was hard for me not to cry as I witnessed what I had just learned was my reality. I wasn’t acting, I was crying for me,” Lonnie said about an experience on set.

“If you don’t understand what’s going on in the world, then understand this: This is what the world looks like for me. A 12-year-old Black boy. This is my America,” Lonnie concluded. “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. Change has got to happen for unarmed Black citizens to not live in fear of being murdered. Can you imagine being me in 2020 and wondering what the future holds? I can’t.”

See Lonnie Chavis‘ full essay on People.com!

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