NBA player Kyrie Irving moved outside of his comfort zone on Thursday by tweeting a reference to the allegedly anti-Semitic film “Hebrews to Negroes.” The Rolling Stone, providing some context for the themes of the movie and book on which it is based.
Kyrie Irving, a well-known free thinker and basketball star, promoted the film and book Hebrews to Negroes on Twitter hours before another Brooklyn Nets defeat on Thursday. Both are rife with antisemitic stereotypes.
Ronald Dalton, Jr. directed the 2018 movie, which was adapted from his same-titled 2015 book. A summary for the movie claims that it reveals the true identity of the Children of Israel, while a summary for the book claims that black people have been misled about their ancestry ever since European and Arab slave traders first set foot in Africa.
Both claim that Black Hebrew Israelites, who have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, islamophobia, and especially antisemitism, hold views in accordance with more extremist Black Hebrew Israelite factions.
Similar to Kanye, Kyrie came under fire shortly after a press conference in which he refused to admit he was anti-Semitic, saying instead that his people’s history made it impossible for him to be so. This implied that he believed in some variation of the Black Hebrew Israelite theory that black people are the true Hebrews.
“I cannot be antisemitic if I know where I come from. I’m just proud of my heritage and what we’ve been through and the fact that this has pinned me against the Jewish community and I’m here answering questions of whether or not I’m sorry or not about something I didn’t create and was something I shared, and I’m telling everybody I’m taking responsibility, then that’s where I sit.”
Infuriated by Kyrie’s response, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt angrily assaulted him on Twitter and refused to accept Kyrie’s $500k donation to the ADL. He stated: “The answer to the question ‘Do you have any antisemitic beliefs’ is always “NO” without equivocation.”
The Nets suspended Irving and said in a statement, “We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film. This was not the first time he had the opportunity — but failed — to clarify. Such failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
Irving, unlike Kanye, then bent the knee and apologized via an Instagram post.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected by my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize.”
In support of Irving, Kanye West embarked on a Twitter posting binge, starting with a picture of the NBA player and continuing with further tweets about the Black Hebrew Israelite concept.