Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been facing massive backlash for sharing a link to what many deem as an anti-Semitic documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” on his social media page.
The 2018 film, which is based on a series of books by Ronald Dalton Jr. of the same name, uncovers the identity of the children of Israel.
According to Page Six, “Hebrews to Negroes” is considered anti-Semitic because of a “Jewish conspiracy to oppress Black people,” and the Jewish community is partially being blamed for the African slave trade. Other parts of the film denies the fact of the Holocaust, claim Jews worship Satan, and Judaism set the foundation for anti-Black racism in the United States.
Irving shared the post on Oct. 27, and the backlash was almost immediate. The following day Nets team owner Joe Tsai condemned the post on Twitter.
On Oct. 29, the basketball player has been publicly condemned for his actions by Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and the Brooklyn Nets organization. Irving was suspended for five games after refusing to apologize for the post, and was assigned a list of things to do before returning to the team.
It includes issuing an apology, a $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes, sensitivity and antisemitic training, meet with Anti Defamation League, Jewish leaders, and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai.
On Nov.7, Nick Cannon came to Irving’s defense during an interview with Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League on the “2 Hate or Not 2 Hate” podcast. During the conversation, Cannon claimed that he doesn’t believe that Irving is anti-Semitic and that the punishment he is facing is unjust.
In the clip, he said, “I can wholeheartedly way I know Kyrie Irving is not anti-Semitic.” He continued by saying that what the organization is doing to Irving by giving the 30-year-old a list of requirements to return to the team is “dehumanizing.”
When Greenblatt discussed Irving’s past statement of dehumanization and how the Jewish community was dehumanized during the Holocaust, Cannon said, “In that same statement as ‘those are the tropes that dehumanized Jewish people’, the same buck-breaking … the slave master’s would bring the buck.”
He added, “The one that gets out of line so all the others would see lash after lash showed them the power to set an example this is what you must do to fall in line.So when we see the six things that Kyrie must do to get his job back, that’s dehumanizing.”
In the past, Cannon had received flak for saying what was considered anti-Semitic comments during a 2020 interview with Public Enemy rapper Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast.
During the conversation, Cannon and Griffin discussed the history of Jewish and Black people. Following the backlash, Nick was fired from his series “Wild N’ Out,” and his radio show Los Angeles’ Power 106. Cannon would ultimately apologize for his seeming endorsement of Griffin’s comments and meet with various religious leaders before returning to work.
Cannon isn’t the only person to defend Irving. Boston Celtics forward and Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association, Jaylen Brown, stated that the union disagrees with the list of terms Irving has to meet before rejoining his team.
Brown told reporters on Nov. 7, “There is an interesting distinction between what somebody says verbally and what somebody posts as a link on a platform with no description behind it. Some people will argue there’s no difference and some people will argue there is a difference. There’s no language in our CBA. There’s no rules against it. This is uncharted territory for everybody.”
He added, “The terms in which he has to fulfill to return, I think not just speaking for me, speaking as a vice president from a lot of our players, we didn’t agree with the terms that was required for him to come back, and we’re waiting for this Tuesday meeting to happen to see what comes of it.”