The Brooklyn Nets reinstated Kyrie Irving prior to Sunday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, which prompted Black Hebrew Israelites to put on a large demonstration outside Barclays Center.
The group is connected to the antisemitic film on Amazon that Irving posted to his social media, leading to his eight-game suspension by the Nets.
The movie, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” the same name of Ronald Dalton Jr.’s 2015 book, had a description that says the film “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel by proving the true ethnicity of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Sons of Ham, Shem and 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.”
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Wearing purple and gold T-shirts, Black Hebrew Israelites were heard chanting around the arena.
Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown also seems to be supporting the demonstration on his social media, where he tweeted “energy” in response to a video of the group.
Brown was vocal about Nets owner Joe Tsai’s comments regarding Irving’s suspension, where he said the controversial point guard “still had work to do.” Brown, one of the vice presidents of the National Basketball Players Association, initially called Tsai’s remarks on Irving returning “alarming.”
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“[Tsai’s] response was alarming to me,” Brown said via the New York Post. “He didn’t say that the organization was working together to get Kyrie back on the floor. He said that [Kyrie] had more work to do. And our society has more work to do, including Joe Tsai. It’s 2022. It takes 10 minutes of time to see who these business owners, corporations, etc., who they’re associated with and who they’re doing business with, who they’re affiliated with.”
“I’m vice president of the union, and it’s part of my job to protect our players legally. And to see [co-founder and chairman of Nike] Phil Knight first come out and condemn Kyrie, and also see Joe Tsai say he has more work to do, I think it’s time for a larger conversation.”
While Irving’s suspension began with posting the link to the film, the Nets decided to suspend him after he had two opportunities with the media to apologize for his comments, which he said on Sunday was a “human” reaction because he felt he wasn’t antisemitic.
However, while completing the six-step checklist the Nets required of him before reinstatement, Irving understands now how hurtful his comments were and regrets not apologizing sooner.
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“I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is anti going against the human race,” Irving said via ESPN. “I feel like we all should have an opportunity to speak for ourselves when things are assumed about us. And I feel it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this.”
The Black Hebrew Israelite movement has groups that work “semi independently,” according to the Anti-Defamation League, with some being more radical than others.
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“Since the late 1960’s the Radical Hebrew Israelites ideology splintered to form increasingly anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic and misogynistic sect of groups who preach they and only they are the true Israelites of the bible and perpetuate the anti-Semitic belief that “so-called” Jews have stolen their identity and “birthright,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.