Recent Oscar nominee LaKeith Stanfield issued a statement on Instagram last night, saying that he “unconditionally apologizes” after serving as a moderator of a Clubhouse room where a great deal of anti-Semitic hate speech was broadcast. In explaining the incident, Stanfield wrote that, “At some point during the dialogue, the discussion”—which took place in a room dedicated to discussing the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan—“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.” Stanfield then added that, “I condemn hate speech and discriminatory views of any kind.”
The nature of Clubhouse—an audio-only, invitation-mandatory social media app that allows users to join topic-based rooms to chat with each other, and which bans recording—makes it difficult to externally verify the beats of this story. But Stanfield’s statements all track with a Daily Beast article published yesterday about the incident, including that he joined the Farrakhan room and was quickly made a moderator (a position usually shared between numerous people in a room, and often given as a matter of course to someone with Stanfield’s clout). Both accounts also confirm that, when anti-Semitic speech began flooding the room, Stanfield neither participated in, nor used his moderation powers to shut down or condemn, said speech. (Stanfield’s apology does not address a moment highlighted in the Daily Beast article in which he was called out in the Clubhouse room for lending tacit support to the hate speech being used, and yet continued to participate.)
The Daily Beast article also notes that, after the initial incident, Stanfield attended a Clubhouse room run by Jewish educators. In his statement to the room, he thanked the other participants for educating him, and stated that, “It’s been a crazy couple 48 hours.” He went on to explain the situation, and explicitly described much of the language he had heard in the Farrakhan room as anti-Semitic. “Someone would say something that was without a doubt anti-Semitic… and then instead of acknowledging why it was anti-Semitic, it would just go back to that original person, and then it would kind of repeat what they were saying, they clearly weren’t listening to us,” he reportedly said.
Commenters have been quick to link Stanfield’s participation in the room to a number of other incidents of prominent Black celebrities making anti-Semitic comments in recent years, most notably the moment in 2020 that saw Nick Cannon booted from MTV’s Wild ‘N Out over comments about Jewish people controlling the media. (A popular Farrakhan talking point, as it happens.) Stanfield, meanwhile, has come under criticism over, and apologized for, a previous incident involving hate speech, specifically for a video he posted in 2018 of a freestyle rap in which he used homophobic slurs. That being said, his statement this weekend is pretty unequivocal: “I unconditionally apologize for what went on in that chat room,” he writes, “And for allowing my presence there to give a platform to hate speech.”