Since “Stranger Things” first premiered in 2016, Caleb McLaughlin has dealt with racism from the show’s fandom.
The actor, who was just 14 when he made his debut as Lucas Sinclair in Season 1, recently attended Heroes Comic Con in Belgium where he got candid about how the racism he experienced has affected him over the years, especially in the show’s early seasons.
“It affected me when I was a kid,” Caleb said during the Sept. 25 Q&A session. “At my very first Comic Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was Black. Some people told me that, ‘Oh I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven [Millie Bobby Brown]’. Even now, people don’t follow me or support me because I’m Black, you know.”
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A video of McLaughlin explaining how his meet-and-greet lines were often shorter than the lines of his co-stars has since gone viral on social media.
“Sometimes overseas like you’ll feel the racism, you feel the bigotry,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about that and for people to understand. But, when I was younger it definitely affected me a lot.
“You’re like, ‘Why am I the least favourite? Why don’t I have followers? I’m on the same show as everybody from season one’,” McLaughlin, now 20, added. “But then my parents had to be like, ‘You know, it’s a sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child in the show.'”
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The Belgium crowd applauded McLaughlin for his “deep” answer, as the actor described so himself. He also received an outpour of support on social media. After hearing how McLaughlin was treated, many fans shared that they felt “sad” by others’ “sickening” actions towards him, adding that McLaughlin “deserves love and respect” just like the rest of his co-stars.
here's caleb talking about how he had to deal with racism just because he was "the black kid who was mean to eleven in season 1" and felt like it was important to share his thoughts on that :) #StrangerThings #TUDUM #CalebMcLaughlin @HComicConBE pic.twitter.com/JZoXS9aaBW
— L ☾ met timothée (@spideychaIamet) September 25, 2022