LaKeith Stanfield is sorry he didn’t shut down anti-Semitic Clubhouse discussion
Oscar-nominated actor LaKeith Stanfield is apologizing for his participation in a Clubhouse chat room where “abhorrent anti-Semitic statements” were made last week. He has also posted a statement from the man who created that room.
The 29-year-old, who played FBI informant Bill O’Neal in the 2020 movie “Judas and the Black Messiah,” said Friday on Instagram that he had entered a chat room Wednesday about the teachings of Louis Farrakhan the day before and was made a moderator once his presence was noticed.
Clubhouse is an invite-only social media platform where users can gather in audio chat rooms to discuss myriad topics. People’s real names appear in a list, and moderators have the ability to allow participants to chime in.
The room that Stanfield joined, “Someone Ended the Room About Farrakhan,” was a spinoff of a previous Farrakhan room that was shut down by its moderator after the talk became too inflammatory, according to the Daily Beast. Podcaster Sam Bito started the new room, according to an Instagram video Stanfield posted Saturday.
“I was the person that made him [Stanfield] a moderator,” Bito said in the video. “He has nothing to do with this. Of course, he’s famous, so people want to focus on him. But he didn’t perpetuate anything, he didn’t say anything anti-Semitic.” He said Stanfield’s participation became a story because celebrity “sells.”
Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton’s widow Akua Njeri and son Fred Hampton Jr. were instrumental in bringing the story of “Judas and the Black Messiah” to the screen.
Stanfield, who has 80,000 Clubhouse followers, addressed his actions — or lack thereof — in his Friday Instagram statement.
“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,” the actor wrote, “I should have either shut down the discussion or removed myself from it entirely.”
Stanfield continued: “ 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.”
But a reported participant in the Clubhouse room said damage was done.
“Honestly, I can’t describe it… I felt sick to my stomach for most of it,” chat listener Kareem Rifai told the Daily Beast Friday. “Some of the things that were said were worse than things that I’ve read or heard about neo-Nazis saying, it was insane.”
A question for Daniel Kaluuya seemed to be intended for fellow Black actor Leslie Odom Jr. The journalist who asked it says she’s being misunderstood.
Rifai said Stanfield tried to stay neutral while remaining in the discussion room, even after a woman who said she was Jewish asked him why he wasn’t taking the opportunity to condemn hate speech.
According to Rifai, Stanfield told the woman, “‘This is probably an emotional kind of room for you, tensions are running high, and I understand this is a very heated room,” but allegedly did nothing to counter the discussion.
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