Put your listening ears on and open up that third eye because we need to talk about Kyrie Irving.
If you’ve been living under a rock, then you may or may not be surprised to find out that Kyrie Irving is sitting out right now, again, without being paid, for reasons completely unrelated to basketball.
Life’s three guarantees: death, taxes, and Kyrie Irving being so gifted at basketball that he gets bored and engages in things that keep him from being able to use his gift.
But I think we’re all being a little hard on Kyrie, don’t you? And if you don’t, still stick with me, and see if you can’t put yourself in Kyrie’s shoes for a moment.
Which… technically, you can’t do anymore, because Nike is ending their relationship with him.
But I digress.
I don’t want to relitigate Kyrie Irving’s past comments about the earth being flat, or that employer-mandated vaccination was the world’s greatest oppression. But I do have to mention those things if for no other reason to establish two things-
1) None of the strange stuff Kyrie Irving has ever made news for saying were his own original ideas. They all came from somewhere other than inside his own head.
And 2) You don’t accidentally stumble into endorsing alternative ideas. You have to be actively searching for them.
Kyrie Irving is a searcher. And this time, the thing he found has people accusing him of being anti-Semitic.
Kyrie Irving posted a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America,” a movie that Ronald Dalton Jr. fashioned after his own book by the same name. The movie was on Amazon, and Irving didn’t provide any commentary about how he felt about the film.
The main idea presented in the film, which includes and easily verifiably false quote from none other than Adolf Hitler, and the batshit crazy claim that the Holocaust was exaggerated 20 times over, is that black people in America have been lied to about their lineage as African slaves, and are in fact, kidnapped Hebrews.
The idea that dark skinned people in America can be traced back to “lost” Hebrew lineage is not a new idea. There are families six or seven generations deep in the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. Shit, it’s not even a “black idea.” Next time you’re hanging out with a Latter Day Saint friend, ask them what a Lamanite is. You’ll find out that nearly 2% of the entire population of the United States believes that Native Americans are also Hebrews.
And Kyrie is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, so chances are there are a lot more white people that believe Irving is a Jew than there are black people.
But back to my point- every black family in America has at least one member of the family, or at least a family friend, that might not call themselves a Black Hebrew Israelite, but they certainly have what I’m going to call “Hotep theology.”
If you’re a white person watching this, let me make this relatable. You know that uncle you have that resembles the Randy Quaid character in Independence Day? Well, we have our own version of that same uncle.
And Hotep theology, while it can be harmful, usually comes from well-meaning people that just want to participate in a pride-filled heritage and have a connection to where they come from.
They’re searchers, or at least they were, before they became militantly attached to their ideals.
And that brings me back to Kyrie Irving. The searcher. Born in Australia. His mother, who was mixed race, passed away when he was four. He was raised going to Catholic School, in a family of world class athletes, of which he ended up being the best. His stepmother is a strong black executive business woman in a world with far too few of those, and despite her not being married to his father anymore, he still made her his agent.
Kyrie Irving was brought up in such unusual circumstances that he was never going to be what anyone would consider normal. And not only was he cut off from his mother, tragically, he is also a black man in America.
Talk to a white person about where they come from. And I’m not talking about the ones that are super into genealogy and can name every ancestor going back 15 generations. Just think of a friend, call them up, and ask if they know anything about their heritage.
They’ll probably say something like “My dad’s Irish Catholic, my mom’s family goes back to Sicily, which sounds Italian but it isn’t.”
Imagine knowing where you come from, much less how you got here, and that history includes free people, perhaps oppressed, but likely free, making the decision to come here.
Maybe you take that simple knowledge of being able to trace a thread backwards for granted. The truth is, and I’m not saying this to make anyone feel guilty, but a lot of black people in America can’t even trace their family histories back to a forced arrival, because for generations and generations, black offspring were passed around by their owners like Pnini Select trading cards. Sure, there are some property records out there, but it’s not like there was a Slavery Carfax.
The truth is, America created people like Kyrie a long time ago, when it cut an entire people group off from its history for the sake of capital gains. Some of the things Kyrie is searching for can’t be found, so when someone comes along to tell him and people like him that they’re more than just the product of the American South’s need for cheap labor, that they’re not only special, but chosen, and connected to a greater story-
is Kyrie Irving really the monster we’ve made him out to be for wanting to believe it?
Should he have shared it without context? No.
Should someone in Kyrie Irving’s life be working with him diligently on media literacy? Absolutely.
But is Kyrie Irving, one of the most charitable athletes in the world, who has donated more to progressive causes than most liberal people will make in three lifetimes, an anti-Semite because he thinks he’s got Hebrew heritage?
No, and if you’ve put yourself in his shoes, you know that he’s hearing the question “are you an anti-Semite” as “Do you hate yourself?”
And if we know one thing about Kyrie Irving, it’s that he likes Kyrie Irving, at least enough to always be thinking about the question “who the hell is Kyrie Irving?“
Look, maybe you disagree with the take that we’re being too harsh on Kyrie. And I get the dangers of the ideas Kyrie is endorsing by sharing this film without context. History has taught us to stand on guard for language that delegitimizes or villainizes the Jews, because when we haven’t, the results have been one of our history’s greatest stains.
But hopefully you can digest the idea that Kyrie means well, and is simply on a quest to piece together his place on an earth that he recently realized was round.
Maybe what I said here today helped reshape your view of Kyrie Irving, and if that’s the case, you have more in common with Kyrie than you thought.
You can both be influenced by videos on the internet.
Let that sink in.