It’s been over a week since Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving shared an Amazon link to the documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” on his social media platforms, but Irving and the film are still trending. The documentary has also become a best seller on Amazon.
Irving’s posts provoked an immense backlash, with many labeling him antisemitic for sharing a film some say is filled with falsehoods and tropes about Jewish people.
The NBA champion rejected the antisemitic label and initially refused to apologize, despite pressure from the Nets organization, owner Joe Tsai, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. All were among the chorus of voices condemning Irving for sharing the link to the film.
“We’re in 2022. History is not supposed to be hidden from anybody and I’m not a divisive person when it comes to religion,” Irving said during a post-game press conference on Saturday, Oct. 30. “What I post does not mean I support everything that’s being said or everything that’s being done or I’m campaigning for anything. All I do is post things for my people and my community and those that it’s going to impact.”
“Out of all the judgment that people got from me posting without talking to me, I respect what Joe said but there has a lot to do with … how proud I am to be of African heritage, but also to be living as a free Black man here in America knowing the historical complexities for me to get here,” Irving continued. “I’m not going to stand down on anything I believe in. I’m only going to get stronger because I’m not alone. I have a whole army around me.”
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He reversed course on Thursday, Nov. 3, after the Nets suspended him indefinitely without pay. The team released a statement condemning Irving as “unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”
The Nets added Irving’s “failure to disavow antisemitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing” and goes against the organization’s values.
Irving released his apology on Instagram shortly thereafter.
“While doing research on YHWH, I posted a Documentary that contained some false anti-Semitic statements, narratives, and language that were untrue and offensive to the Jewish Race/Religion, and I take full accountability and responsibly for my actions,” Irving wrote in the caption of a blacked-out Instagram post on Thursday, Nov. 3.
“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,” Irving’s post continued. “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.”
It wasn’t the first time Irving had apologized. On. Nov. 2, he released a separate joint statement with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League; and announced his intent to donate $500,000 to the ADL.
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement. “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
The ADL announced it would reject Irving’s donation on Nov. 3 after the Nets star reiterated that he is not antisemitic at another press conference. He also asked the media where they were when it was time to report the atrocities that happened to Black people in America for centuries and told reporters to “please keep that same energy when we’re talking about anti-other things.”
“We were optimistic but after watching the debacle of a press conference, it’s clear that Kyrie feels no accountability for his actions. @ADL cannot in good conscience accept his donation,” ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted.
Released in 2018, four years after the filmmaker Ronald Dalton Jr. authored a book of the same name, ‘Hebrews To Negroes’ has been bashed as being full of antisemitism and false information.
According to the film’s description on Amazon, it “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel by proving the true ethnicity of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Sons of Ham, Shem & Japheth.”
“Find out what Islam, Judaism and Christianity has covered up for centuries in regards to the true biblical identity of the so-called ‘Negro’ in this movie packed with tons of research,” the description continues.
Critics disagree. Rolling Stone called the film “venomously antisemitic” and “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.” ESPN reporter Pablo Torre tweeted the film was “insanely anti-Semitic,” along with a screenshot of a quote attributed to Adolph Hitler that is repeated in the documentary.
Jay Williams said Amazon also deserves backlash for giving ‘Hebrews To Negroes’ a distribution platform.
“I watched the entire film. There’s a lot of things in the film I disagree with; the curiosity nature of it is interesting, but I will say this: Where is that same attention and energy for the platform that is promoting it and profiting off it,” Williams said. “I don’t hear of that talk around Jeff Bezos and Amazon. I don’t hear anybody talking about that.”
“It’s a growing movement that is happening among Black people all over the world, in the Caribbean, United Kingdom, Africa and other countries; and it really kind of all started from Blacks in America searching for their identity,” Dalton told Moguldom. “It needs to be covered and it needs to be discussed in the right way because the European and Western media would try to put a spin on it and make it seem as though we’re a hate group and anti-Semitic and all this other stuff, but that’s not the case.”
“Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” documentary image (Amazon).
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during warm up before an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022 in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)