Caleb McLaughlin is opening up about the racism and bigotry he’s experienced since Netflix’s Stranger Things first blew up.
McLaughlin, 20, discussed the topic at the Heroes Comic Con Belgium convention over the weekend while looking back at his first ever Comic Con experience, which he says was plagued with racism.
“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 [Millie Bobby Brown].’ Even now some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black,” the actor recalled, per Variety.
“Sometimes overseas you feel the racism, you feel the bigotry,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about and for people to understand, but when I was younger it definitely affected me a lot.”
McLaughlin—who was only 14 years old when he made his debut as Lucas Sinclair on the popular sci-fi series—claims the racism he faced “took a toll” on him when he was younger, especially after his parents pointed out why he wasn’t as celebrated as some of his white co-stars.
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“Why am I the least favorite? The least amount of followers? I’m on the same show as everybody from Season 1,” he remembered wondering as a young teen on the series.
“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.”
McLaughlin’s Instagram page, with 15.4M followers, has notably fewer than most of the other Stranger Things kids, including Noah Schnapp with 27.6M, Finn Wolfhard with 26.3M and Brown with 58.8M.
But McLaughlin refuses to let hate undermine what he stands for, stating at Sunday’s event, “With my platform, I want to spread positivity and love because I do not give hate back to people who give hate to me.”
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