Over the last few years, LaKeith Stanfield has emerged as one of the best, most exciting actors of his generation. But last week brought some upsetting news: On Wednesday he appeared as a moderator on a Clubhouse discussion about Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan that turned virulently anti-Semitic. On Saturday the actor issued an apology in which he explained what happened and condemned what was said.
Clubhouse, an invitation-only audio app that allows free-spirited discussion, has been repeatedly accused of giving a platform to all manner of bigotry since its launch last year. But Wednesday’s chat went particularly awry, with some trying to defend Farrakhan’s notorious comparison of Jewish people to termites. Some were horrified to learn that the moderator was no less than the acclaimed actor.
Multiple attendees told The Daily Beast that Stanfield never personally said anything anti-Semitic or bigoted. He was, however, accused of shrugging off what was being said when people reached out to him to stop it. One person said he told her something to the effect that it was “probably an emotional kind of room for you,” that “tensions are running high, and I understand this is a very heated room.”
But four days later he took a firmer stance on what happened.
“Yesterday I entered an online chat room on Clubhouse about the teachings of [Louis Farrakhan. When the room’s participants noticed me, I was quickly made a moderator of this room,” Stanfield wrote. He continued:
“At some point during the dialogue the discussion took a very negative turn when several users made abhorrent anti-Semitic statements and at that point, I should have either shut down the discussion or removed myself from it entirely. I condemn hate speech and discriminatory views of every kind. I unconditionally apologize for what went on in that chat room, and for allowing my presence there to give a platform to hate speech. I am not an anti-Semite nor do I condone any of the beliefs discussed in that chat room.”
Stanfield was recently Oscar-nominated for Judas and the Black Messiah. He’ll be seen on Atlanta when that returns, at an unspecified date.