news ‘The Flash’ Star Candice Patton: The CW and Warner Bros. Had ‘No Support Systems’ to Curb Racist Fans

The Flash” star Candice Patton has reflected on the racist fan backlash she endured when first joining the CW series in 2014.

Patton opened up on “The Open Up Podcast” about The CW and Warner Bros. TV not having protocols in place to curb racist social media harassment for its stars.

“Now people understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre [film and TV], but at the time it was kind of just like, ‘That’s how fans are, whatever,'” Patton said, via Variety. “Even with the companies I was working with, The CW and WB, that was their way of handling it. We know better now. It’s not ok to treat your talent that way, to let them go through abuse and harassment.”

Patton has portrayed Iris West for eight seasons thus far in the DC comic book series but things have changed since when she first joined the series.

“For me in 2014, there were no support systems. No one was looking out for that,” Patton continued. “It was free range to get abused every single day. There were no social media protocols in place to protect me, so they just let all that stuff sit there.”

She added, “It’s just not enough to make me your lead female and say, ‘Look at us, we’re so progressive, we checked the box.’ It’s great, but you’ve put me in the ocean alone around sharks. It’s great to be in the ocean, but I can get eaten alive out here.”

Patton admitted that she wanted to leave “The Flash” in Season 2 because of the social media harassment. She ultimately stayed with the series as she felt a responsibility of representation.

Patton noted that “there has to be people in positions of power who understand my experience and understand the Black experience and the Black female experience who can say, ‘Ok she needs protection,'” moving forward. Patton continued, “Any time you hire a minority of any kind you have to be prepared to protect them. In the real world, we are not protected. So just because you put us on a fancy Hollywood set, with the hair and makeup and you assume we’re safe, we are not safe.”

“If I get pulled over at 2 a.m. in Jackson, Mississippi, by a white cop, do you think he gives a shit that I’m Candice Patton from ‘The Flash’? It doesn’t matter,” Patton reflected. “We still need protection because the world sees us in a certain way. When I step on a set and everyone working around me is white, I’m not protected and I will never be protected. And that’s not to say everyone has bad intentions, but they have blind spots. That can contribute to my harm. It’s been a learning experience for companies and productions.”

Patton is just the most recent star to speak out against racist fan backlash in IP storytelling. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” star Moses Ingram addressed the onslaught of hateful messages she received while portraying Sith Inquisitor Reva.

“Long story short, there are hundreds of those. Hundreds,” Ingram said in an Instagram video after screenshotting messages that threatened her and called her racial slurs. “And I also see those of you out there who put on a cape for me and that really does mean the world to me because, you know, there’s nothing anybody can do about this. There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. And so I question my purposes even being here in front of you saying that this is happening.”

Ingram previously noted that Lucasfilm and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” director Deborah Chow anticipated fan hate towards her character and “actually got in front of” the expected racism.

“‘This is a thing that, unfortunately, likely will happen. But we are here to help you; you can let us know when it happens,’” Ingram said earlier this month that Lucasfilm executives told her. “Of course, there are always pockets of hate, but I have no problem with the block button.”

IndieWire has reached out to The CW and Warner Bros. TV for comment.