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In Requiem For Ronnie: The Chi’s Most Loathed Anti-Hero

Lena Waithe got it right showing the unhinged circle of life for a Black man.

Image Credit: Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Spoiler Alert: This piece is about The Chi Season 3, Episode 9 “Lackin'”. Exit now if you haven’t seen yet…

We the Black delegation want to send a huge apology to Lena Waithe, Creator and Executive Producer of SHOWTIME series, The Chi.

For too long we thought you were bugging with the down and out character storyline of Ronnie. Played by actor Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, the character was an unemployed veteran who drowned his shame in brown liquor on Chicago’s notorious Southside.

The show began to center on him as a central character when he murdered a youngin’ named Coogie Johnson who he falsely believed was responsible for his “step-son” Jason’s murder.

With the departure of lead actor Jason Mitchell, who played Brandon Johnson, the brother of Coogie, the Ronnie character seemed lost without Mitchell as a counterbalance to his life’s biggest tragedy.

Without Brandon, Ronnie seems lost beyond compare.

He was ever more shiftless. His homelessness evolved into a comfort zone of pity and to the viewer, his character arch seemed broken and lagging.

However, what we didn’t realize was that the abduction of the Keisha character, played by Birgundi Baker, would provide purpose to his life.

Baker plays Keisha masterfully as an everyday Black girl who represents the victims of abuse, one of the silent killers of Black femininity. Once Keisha is found by Ronnie, he attempts to redeem himself.

The unjust killing of Coogie Johnson, which he is literally drinking himself to death from is hopefully an absolution from Keisha’s rescue.

Sensational situations aside, Ronnie is many Black men who have no name in America. They come back from the war in a fresh uniform and are greeted by no job, a bed or couch in a relative’s crib, and a lack of respect; respect that they thought they earned so-called defending the country’s freedom.

Unrequited love from a single mother that you felt you were building a lifelong bond with. Claiming a son that is not yours by blood but by connection through a relationship with the mother.

Ronnie went through that.

Is there a responsibility that Ronnie should have taken earlier to potentially avoid languishing in the hood? Probably, but then that’s when you forget that mental illness is pervasive in communities of color and rarely addressed properly.

Had Ronnie received mental health checks and therapy upon his return and received the promise of the American Dream, perhaps the trajectory of his life would have been different.

However, after being a stain on the community for perpetuating violence he willed himself to find Keisha as a community sleuth and hoped for the best for himself after.

His actions, although selfless was also selfish in a positive way. It was his baptism by fire and he almost lost his life until Keisha found the courage and strength to kill her abuser.

Ronnie was treated like a hero afterward by the community, found religion, and began the process of healing. He made peace with his past and looked forward to the future.

He was on his way to leave a toxic community to grow personally but his love for the community kept him there a few days longer than he should…and for it, he was killed.

But as I learned a long time ago: everything is perfect all the time.

Ronnie was supposed to die. He was killed by a young man who was a friend of Coogie Johnson and was still burning inside from the pain. However, for a brief few moments, we witnessed Ronnie experience true Black Boy Joy from re-united with the love of his life, being treated as a grandfather by the mother of his step-son’s child, and being treated like a hero on the Southside of Chicago everywhere he went.

There are many of Ronnie’s in Chicago. There are many of Ronnie’s in every corner of America. Our judgment of their current circumstances precludes many from seeing their humanity and condemning hem as castoffs, the collateral damage of the struggle.

Not every Ronnie will have a hero moment. That’s why we need to see the hero in them now. Lena Waithe and The Chi made me remember that.

 

 

 

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