Stanfield, whose films include Sorry to Bother You, Get Out and Judas and the Black Messiah, did not say anything antisemitic himself. But he was a moderator of the discussion, which took place earlier this week.
He said he had not known much about one of the subjects being discussed, Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan, a prominent Black figure who has a history of making antisemitic comments.
“I definitely don’t align myself with Louis Farrakhan, I don’t stand by him,” Stanfield told the Daily Beast in an interview published on Saturday. “Any kind of hate speech, I vehemently reject. That’s not up for debate, hate is not up for debate.”
Clubhouse is a social networking app on which invited users can listen to discussions. The session on Wednesday was meant to offer a “balanced” conversation about whether Farrakhan’s legacy was damaged by his antisemitism.
A moderator closed the room after determining the discussion had become incendiary, but another room opened and discussion continued.
Stanfield told the Beast he was interested in the topic but “wasn’t sure to what extent” Farrakhan was controversial.
Whenever someone’s sentence starts, ‘Well, Hitler had a point’ … you have no point, there’s no leg to stand on
Anonymous Clubhouse user
“I was much more interested in sort of uncovering this information, so it wasn’t about Louis Farrakhan per se,” Stanfield said.
Jewish participants in what was promoted as an attempt to “bridge the gap” between Black and Jewish communities told the Beast they had to defend themselves against “vile antisemitism” and explain why some comments were hateful.
“There’s no other perspective,” one Jewish woman who was in the room was quoted as saying, without being named. “I’m not going to debate anyone for my humanity or be told that Hitler was right or that my identity and my heritage is not real.
“I’m so tired of this other side. Whenever someone’s sentence starts, ‘Well, Hitler had a point’ or ‘Hitler was wrong about a lot but here’s something he did that was right’, you have no point, there’s no leg to stand on.”
Stanfield said he asked a question in the Clubhouse room, whereupon an organizer made him a moderator.
“It was so chaotic in the room, there were a couple of outbursts,” he said. “I think I remember someone saying something about ‘all Jews run the world’ or something kind of crazy, and that was one of the people I put down in the audience.”
In Clubhouse rooms, moderators control who is put on a “stage” to talk.
“But for the most part, one outburst would happen and then the conversation would kind of go back into a normal rhythm.”
A Jewish attendee called attention to Stanfield’s presence, noting that he had 79,000 followers who might think he condoned the antisemitic remarks.
“I was really caught off guard, because first of all, I didn’t host the room,” Stanfield told the Beast. “But I also didn’t feel that the conversation was really headed in a direction that was completely attacking Jewish people.
“At that point, I thought there were still people saying their points and then other people saying their points. So I explained to her that I know that this is a very tense and emotional conversation to have, and I just want everyone to have the time to be able to engage in conversation. So, that was part of me trying to moderate this conversation that was happening.”
Stanfield said he walked away from his phone, pointing to how early it was in London, where he is filming the sitcom Atlanta. A “whole bunch of chaos started to erupt and people are saying all kinds of crazy things, apparently”, he said.
“The next couple days, there’s conversations about what happened in that room. I was really surprised by a lot of the things that I was hearing that were happening in the room because a lot of those things I just simply wasn’t present for. So, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s terrible.’”
After Stanfield’s presence in the Clubhouse room was noted on social media, and the Beast reported the incident, the actor said on Instagram: “Thinking outside the box comes with a cost”, adding: “They’ll always try to discredit and attack you … futile.”
He deleted that message and posted a complete apology.