VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images
VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images
Sebastian Stan is sorry for sharing a tone deaf "take the knee" meme.
Last year, as a means to protest police violence against unarmed black people, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel, rather than stand, for "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a preseason game. His demonstration triggered a chain of events, culminating at a Sept. 22 rally, in which President Donald Trump called any player who kneels a "son of a bitch." In response, many athletes—and in some cases, entire NFL teams—decided to "take the knee."
In late September, Stan shared a meme showing disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding sitting next to her rival Nancy Kerrigan, captioned, "Back when 'taking a knee' meant taking a knee." The actor, who plays Harding's ex Jeff Gillooly in Neon's I, Tonya, saw it as an opportunity to promote the film. "Exactly... Can't wait to share #itonya with you... Dec 8th - NY & LA Jan 19th - everywhere else #90slife #90shair #90shorror," he wrote. "Thank you @misterpat for this gem."
After reading some negative Instagram comments, Stan cleared the air. "For anyone confused for whatever reason right now, please know that this was not meant to be offensive or make fun of a serious matter, but a lighthearted way to promote my movie, which is ALSO about a very serious subject matter," he wrote. "So before you start throwing stones at me, recognize where I come from and the kind of person that I am and what I stand for. I've been very vocal about that. Thank you." Amid backlash, Stan decided to delete the Instagram meme.
In the following weeks, Stan apologized for sharing the post by commenting on fans' accounts. "Listen, guys, I'm sorry. I recognize the bad timing of my last post and I truly apologize to anyone who may have been offended by it," he said. "It was in reference to an actual event that took place in 1994 which is now depicted in the movie I'm currently promoting. Nothing more."
In response to the fan account@cinnamon_stan, the 35-year-old actor wrote, "I am truly sorry to the people that I have hurt and offended. I made a stupid joke. It was ignorant and careless."
"When I put up the post, I had not carefully researched the kneeling reference. In the past few days I have done the homework I should have done before absentmindedly posting that...To be clear on my values and where I stand...I am an immigrant and now an American citizen," said the actor, who was born in Romania and also lived in Austria. "My parents and I came to this country when I was 12 years old. To be an American, growing up I have learned that you agree to support and uphold the constitution and all of its amendments, the freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest in order to ensure equality and justice for all. Like many people, I am extremely anxious and worried about the things that I see on the news and in the world these days. I wish I could take it all back but here I am. I will strive to learn from this issue."
Offering his sincerest apologies, Stan continued, "I appreciate the time and thought you put into your post, and going forward I promise to do the same. Lesson learned. Thank you again!"