Kyrie, Shut Up, Apologize, and You May Get to Dribble Again
But Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for that to Happen
I have tried to keep out of the media hysteria surrounding Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving. God knows I do not want to be canceled out like Ye and Kyrie, but it is inevitable that sooner or later, I must lift my voice above the latest high-tech lynching of a Black man who dared to think for himself.
After all, speaking up for the despised is my purpose in life, the eternal advocate for the “Damned.” I can no more keep quiet than a bird can refrain from flying or chickens can stop laying eggs. It is why I am on the earth, and bearing the wrath of the maddening mob is my cross to carry. I shoulder this cross with honor and dignity, love, and joy.
Let me hasten to add that I spent three and one-half hours watching the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America — The Movie and anyone who wishes to take me to the task can do so only after spending the time to watch the entire documentary.
When a public outcry arose over Irving’s tweet of a link to the documentary, I was not interested in viewing the documentary; in light of Kyrie’s history of proclaiming that the world is flat and his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Then I watched a press conference where Kyrie addressed the tweet. He stated that he took responsibility for posting the documentary, did not intend to harm anyone, did not produce the documentary (Ronald Dalton, Jr. did), and did not believe everything contained in the documentary.
In real-time, my ears heard an apology from Kyrie, but several reporters followed up, asking him to issue an apology. Kyrie had just delivered an apology without being asked to apologize for his actions. So he repeated the apology he had previously given in his own words. And still, his apology was not good enough for the reporters. One reporter blurted out, “But why won’t you say I apologize?”
To which Kyrie replied, “Ask me a basketball question.”
The next day, Kyrie issued a statement containing the apology he had previously offered to reporters, stating that he and the Nets would donate $500,000 each to the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitic thought, and ended the statement with the words, “I apologize….”
That should have been the end of the story. Kyrie, a practitioner of Judaism, offered to atone for sharing the H2N video. According to Wikipedia, Judaism “is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the Covenant that God established with the Israelites, their ancestors.”
“For traditional Jews,” Britannica reports, “atonement is expiation for an individual’s sin to attain God’s forgiveness. Individuals may achieve this in various ways, including repentance, payment for a wrong action, good works, suffering, and prayer.”
Last month traditional Jews celebrated the 10 “days of awe,” culminating in the Day of Atonement, known as Yom Kippur, which is centered on repentance. Yet, despite Jewish law and tradition, in less than twenty-four hours, traditional Jews rejected Kyrie’s offer of $500,000 as payment for Kyrie’s perceived wrong action.
When traditional Jews rejected the apology and compensation of their brother in the faith, I decided it was time to fork over $10.99 to stream the documentary.
I wanted to know what hateful things had been said or depicted about the Jews that had caused such a strong reaction. Media outlets widely reported that the video was replete with an offensive speech against Jews. I wanted to know what those loathful words were, and I hoped to learn why Kyrie or anyone would spur this kind of alleged demagoguery.
After viewing the documentary, I wonder if any reporters who failed to hear Kyrie’s apology at the news conference had watched it before positing their redundant questions. One wonders whether any pontifical sports commentator or “Breaking News” talking head has taken three and half hours out of their day to review the documentary rather than ranting over talking points presented by the Anti-Defamation League.
Hebrews to Negroes is a thorough, well-documented, scientific, and DNA data-driven account of sematic-speaking tribes during the Iron Age who lived in the ancient Near East and inhabited Canaan before migrating due to wars, floods, and pestilence to the far corners of the earth. According to renowned Harvard Historian Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., during this Age, “all the people on the earth were Black.”
Following the rejection of Kyrie’s money by the Anti-Defamation League, the Nets decided to suspend him for no less than five games. Then the Nets tacked on six conditions Kyrie would have to complete before ending the suspension.
It is evident from a review of the six conditions no one in Nets management has taken three and half hours out of their schedule to view the alleged hateful documentary.
First, the Nets want Kyrie to “condemn the harmful and false content” without identifying what portion of the content is harmful and false. Perhaps the Nets take issue with a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, “Black Supremacy is as bad as White Supremacy.” This is one of the leading tenants in the documentary that the reason to uncover the truth is not to replace one group of supremacists with another group of supremacists.
Could it be a quote from the first Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who objected to the establishment of the nation-state of Israel? Nasser argued, “…you left Black and came back White.”
According to the Holy Bible, the Israelites removed during the Babylonian exiles were Black and brown-skinned people. Those settling in Palestine after World War II have a much lighter complexion.
Can truth be harmful?
Yes, the truth often hurts when the hearer does not want to accept the fact.
Is that a sound reason to ban the truth if the truth hurts?
It is certainly not a valid reason to declare the truth false.
Second, Irving can’t complete the condition that requires him to donate $500,000 to the Anti-Defamation League because the organization will not forgive Kyrie’s perceived trespass. The Anti-Defamation League’s failure to accept Kyrie’s apology and money leads to the question:
Who’s hating on who now?
Third, how can the Nets create a sensitivity training application for Kyrie without defining the problem with the documentary?
Let’s say the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League believe a quote that invokes the name of Adolf Hitler is an item that should have caused Kyrie to be sensitive to the feelings of traditional Jews. I do not believe that the purported quote adds anything to the documentary. Its inclusion marred an otherwise well-produced project, especially given that Nasser had made the point that the Western powers were displacing the Palestinians to create a new modern-day Israeli state. That is a well-settled belief in the Arab world and the cause of strife in North East Africa today.
We are nearly 80 years removed from the scourge of Hitler. Some generations do not know the horrors of what Hitler did to the traditional Jews. It is time to stop cowering from the name Hitler and teach a new generation the cruelty of the holocaust.
Today, many people believe that the holocaust did not happen. They believe this because we stopped teaching it in schools. And given the competition to sanction what can and what cannot be taught in public schools, bringing young people up to speed on antisemitic and anti-hate speech just got more complicated.
In many school districts today, Critical Race Theory laws embolden some White Americans to object to a classroom discussion on the bad treatment European Jews received from Germany in the first half of the twentieth century. They argue that such discussions make their White children emotionally traumatized to learn their White ancestors were mean-spirited to Jewish people during the holocaust.
Herein lies the crux of the matter. Destroying Kyrie’s personhood and ability to make a living will not stop White supremacists from hating traditional Jews. Moreover, the documentary is not likely to cause Black people to engage in antisemitic rhetoric or hateful acts towards Semitic people.
If anything, the documentary teaches Black Americans they share a kinship with traditional Jews. Perhaps, this is another so-called “falsehood” Jewish leaders find objectionable about H2N.
Fourth, Kyrie’s employer wants to subject him to antisemitic/anti-hate training designed by the Nets, presumably, without any input from Kyrie and with subjective standards to evaluate whether he passed the Nets’ antisemitic/anti-hate training.
My longtime friend and neighbor, the late Rev. C. T. Vivian, conducted sensitivity training on racism throughout corporate America for most of his 95 years. I witnessed one of his sessions. At the end of the session, no one received an exam or a grade. You returned to your workstation, taking what you gleaned from the presentation. The goal, Vivian taught me, was to leave the people with a lifetime of reflections as they went about their daily tasks while interacting with people from different walks of life.
Five, Kyrie is required to “meet with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, as well as Jewish community leaders in Brooklyn.” Meeting with these groups is easy enough, but to what end?
We have seen how quickly the Anti-Defamation League rejected Kyrie’s apology and his offer of money to heal the breach. Will Jewish community leaders and organizations ever forgive him? Will the hatred of Jewish leaders grow larger and longer than the perceived hate inflicted on them by Kyrie?
This now becomes the question.
George Orwell’s concept of doublethink is the Orwellian kicker implemented in number six.
“After completing 1 to 5, meet with the owner Joe Tsai and lead franchise officials and demonstrate the lessons learned and that the gravity of the harm caused in the situation is understood, and provide assurances that this type of behavior will not be repeated.”
Two things jump out from number six:
First, “the gravity of the harm caused in the situation is understood.” The Nets and the Anti-Defamation League would do the public a great educational service if they would publicly point out the incidents in the documentary that caused harm. We all need to know going forward, before someone else, unaware, trespass against the Jewish ethos of unconscionability. It is not enough to say you harmed me with your words. Point out the harm frame by frame so that there is no mistaking the wound inflicted.
Second, “… and provide assurances that this type of behavior will not be repeated.”
Essentially, Kyrie must subject himself to a series of propaganda sessions developed and administered by the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League and then undergo intense scrutiny to, as the scripture states, “Show yourself approved,” before he can rejoin the team and ostensibly society.
In other words, an emasculated Kyrie is his ticket back to the world of “Just shut up and dribble.”
“Who controls the past controls the future,” George Orwell said; “who controls the present controls the past.”
And until Kyrie’s version of the past lines up with the Nets and the Anti-Defamation League’s version of the present, he will have no future, “no name in the street,” as writer James Baldwin would put it.
After all, “War,” in the world of Orwell’s doublethink, “is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing,” George Orwell, 1984.
Welcome to life after basketball, Kyrie.
Harold Michael Harvey is the Living Now 2020 Bronze Medal winner for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. He is the author of a book on Negro Leagues Baseball, The Duke of 18th & Vine: Bob Kendrick Pitches Negro Leagues Baseball. He writes feature stories for Black College Nines. Com. Harvey is a member of the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, HBCU and PRO Sports Media Association, and the Legends Committee for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. Harvey is an engaging speaker. Contact Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.