Last week, Kyrie Irving, basketball star on the Brooklyn Nets tweeted in support of the 2018 documentary Hebrews to Negroes. The film is filled with antisemitic tropes, and Holocaust denial, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The film even claims that Jews are “impostors who stole the religious heritage of Black people (ADL).” After being called out for promoting the hateful film, he refused to completely denounce it in a press conference. The Nets announced this week Irving would be suspended for at least 5 games without pay, saying that they did not support his comments.
It seems like the past few weeks have been filled with antisemitism on the internet, from Kanye West to now Kyrie Irving. Fans have made excuses for them, defending Kanye by citing his masterful rap work, and defending Kyrie by saying he didn’t know the extent of the documentary’s content. However, they are public figures. There can’t be excuses, knowing the reach of their comments. Kanye West currently has 18.4 million followers on Instagram, while there’s approximately 15.6 million Jews in the entire world. Even if Kyrie Irving didn’t agree with every point in the movie, he made it known to a wider audience, a more anti-semitic audience. Due to Irving’s actions, the documentary, which was previously unknown to a majority of people, is now on Amazon’s bestsellers list.
Celebrities who peddle beliefs like this and hold these thoughts while having major platforms is part of what encourages regular people to attack synagogues and the Jewish population. Further, Kanye West has had a history of questionable moments in the press, but still has a small legion of fans that defend him. There are still studios and producers that work with him, no matter what he says. Athletic giant Adidas only dropped West due to large public outcry. West has been one of the most influential artists of our time but that doesn’t give him a pass to be an anti-semite. Kyrie Irving has helped fund salaries of WNBA players, and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food during the pandemic. However, more recently, he has been showing his true colors. His refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and now his promotion of anti-semitism is possibly ruining what could have been a great legacy. Overall, people need to continue calling out anti-semitism no matter who promotes it. Being a celebrity doesn’t mean an immunity from the real world, where the words spoken by public figures have a large effect on culture.
Claire Lenkin is a BBG from Maryland who loves playing tennis, summer camp, and hanging out with friends.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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