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Stranger Things Star Caleb McLaughlin Opens Up About Dealing With Racism From Fans

Actor Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, is opening up for the first time about the overall racism he's had to endure from fans, since the series premiered back in 2016.

via EW:

Amid the conversations about racism shown to actors from specific genre fandoms, like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin has opened up about what he experienced as a child star joining the show in season 1.

McLaughlin appeared at the Heroes Comic Con Belgium convention on Sunday and spoke from the stage about the racism he was shown by some of the Stranger Things fans.

“It definitely took a toll on me as a younger kid,” the actor said, as seen in video shared by one of the panel’s attendees. “My very first Comic-Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was Black. Some people told me, ‘Oh I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven.’

Even now some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black. Sometimes overseas you feel the racism, you feel the bigotry. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about and for people to understand, but when I was younger it definitely affected me a lot.”

McLaughlin, now 20, has portrayed Lucas Sinclair — a member of the core Dungeons and Dragons crew with Finn Wolfhard’s Mike, Noah Schnapp’s Will, and Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin — since season 1 of Stranger Things, which debuted in 2016 when he was 14. After the two-part fourth season, which streamed on Netflix this summer, the actor will return for the fifth and final season.

McLaughlin acknowledged at the panel that he was getting into a “deep conversation,” but said his kid self would feel like, “Why am I the least favorite? The least amount of followers? I’m on the same show as everybody from season 1.”

“My parents had to be like, ‘It’s a sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child on the show… Because I was born with this beautiful chocolate skin, I’m not loved,” he said. “But that’s why with my platform I want to spread positivity and love because I do not give hate back to people who give hate to me.”

Black actors from other franchises, like Steve Toussaint and Ismael Cruz Córdova, have also recently addressed their experiences with racism among fandoms.

Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon reimagines the seafarers of House Velaryon as wealthy Black conquerors, instead of the pale skin and purple eyes described in George R.R. Martin’s books. Toussaint, who stars on the show as Lord Corlys Velaryon, had said, “It seems to be very hard for people to swallow. [Fans] are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

Córdova, in turn, revealed his DMs were filled with “pure and vicious hate speech” since becoming the first person of color to portray an elf in a fantasy franchise with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. “I fought so hard for this role for this very reason,” the actor said. “I felt that I could carry that torch. I made sure that my elf was the most Elven, the most incredible, because I knew this was coming.”

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