'An Actor and A Gentleman' by Louis Gossett Jr.

Yet there was no screen to hide the ugly event that occurred in 1982, when Satie was eight, which caused irreparable damage to my personal and professional lives and, far more important, I believe to the life of my son. Christina, still anguished over my being Satie's primary parent and desperate to get him back, filed a lawsuit accusing me and the woman who, along with her two children, was living with me and Satie, of supplying drugs to the three children. It was an insanely ridiculous accusation that I was feeding Satie and this woman's two children a tablespoon of cocaine for breakfast every morning.

Despite the absurdity of the accusation, the police raided my house in the middle of the night. Although the detective told me, "This is pure Mickey Mouse. I don't know why we're here," the police removed Satie and my girlfriend's two children, sending them to foster homes for weeks. It took my lawyer, the late judge Edward Brand, a month to get through all of the necessary paperwork to return my son back home. I was allowed visits with Satie during that time, but he was miserable that month and returned home angry at not being able to see my girlfriend and her two children. It was obvious that he did not like me very much now. And, sadly, I was too busy to work out some of his anger with him.

Today, even though Christina is no longer alive, I am still trying to come to terms with her anger and the effect it has had on our son. I have always understood that Satie was her child, too, and that she loved him every bit as much as I did. Yet how could I have ever taken the risk of sharing custody with her, knowing that if I did, she might have taken off with him again, this time to a different country, and I might never have seen him again?

Ultimately, the court exonerated me, finding nothing, but it considered my girlfriend a negative influence on my son, who adored her and her two kids, and forbade her to come within ten miles of me and our house. All of the charges were dropped, but still the stigma remained. Other white actors were able to overcome worse predicaments with drugs and alcohol and self-destructive acts. For them, there was a hope of redemption and an even more successful career at the end of treatment, the drug problem only adding to the allure. But for a black man who was supposed to "mind his manners," the drugs were a permanent blemish. For me, the road was too narrow to have room to fool around.

I was beginning to become angry and resentful. I have since conquered those defects, understanding that the worst resentment one can have is the one he feels justified to keep. Although there are books and poetry and songs to help you feel justified about hanging on to those inequities, take it from me, they do you no good. It took time, but ultimately I began to use meditation and prayer to increase my conscious contact with God, eventually replacing my ego with humility and gratitude. This routine provides a daily inventory to help me discover what is darkening my soul and my spirit and allows me to eliminate those defects from my system, leaving a vacant space for God's light to shine through me to others, not unlike the diaphanous wings of a butterfly. After all, I quickly came to understand, God's light is brighter than any light I might have seen on Broadway and in Hollywood.

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