Black Celebrities and the Antisemitism Controversy
Updated: Sep 18, 2022
By Blake Fox
Following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, protests emerged in all 50 states. However, alongside these protests rose a disturbing new trend: African American celebrities and athletes spewing antisemitism.
In early June 2020, Ice Cube, a rapper and actor, shared multiple anti-semitic posts on his Twitter account, followed by more than 5.3 million people. The controversy started when Cube posted a picture of a mural called "Freedom for Humanity," which depicts a group of Jewish men playing Monopoly while sitting upon the backs of other people. The men in question are portrayed with antisemitic stereotypes, such as hooked noses and evil facial expressions. Then just four days later, Cube tweeted a photo of the Black Cube of Saturn -- a symbol of chaos -- inside of a Star of David, which implied that Jews are behind the world's chaos. That same day, Cube tweeted out praise for Minister Louis Farrakhan, a designated anti-semite according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Farrakhan has called Judaism a "dirty religion," referred to Adolf Hitler as "a very great man" and called Jewish people "termites." When confronted by CNN journalist Jake Tapper over his antisemitic comments, Cube told Tapper to "watch [his] mouth" and that he is "just pro-Black" and "telling my truth."
In early July 2020, it was Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who faced accusations of antisemitism after posting an Instagram story featuring a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler. The quote read, "The Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination won't work if the Negroes know who they were…." The post went on to read, "Hitler was right." Similar to Cube, Jackson praised Farrakhan. Jackson's comments were condemned by many, including Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie, who himself is Jewish. However, some people, including former NBA player Stephen Jackson, defended DeSean Jackson, saying, "He's speaking the truth...and trying to educate others… ." A day later, Stephen Jackson doubled-down by saying, "You know who the Rothschilds are? They control all the banks." Others coming to the defense of Jackson include fellow Eagles teammates Malik Jackson, and Marquise Goodwin.
DeSean Jackson eventually apologized for his antisemitic words and spoke with Edward Mosberg, a Holocaust survivor. Jackson also met with local Jewish leaders in the Philadelphia area, including Rabbi Doniel Grodnitzky of Chabad Young Philly, 76ers co-owner Michael G. Rubin, and the Chairman of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, David J. Adelman. Jackson has also agreed to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum at the Auschwitz concentration camp site, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, together with Julian Edelman, a Jewish wide reciever on the New England Patriots.
In mid-July, rapper and television host Nick Cannon came under fire for antisemitic comments that he made on his podcast. Cannon stated, "The Semitic people are black people," and therefore, "[Black people] can't be antisemitic when we are the Semitic people...we are the true Hebrews." He also spread antisemitic conspiracy theories regarding the Rothschild family and Zionists having world control. Finally, Cannon referred to white people as "savages" and "barbaric," and stated, "They're the ones that are actually closer to animals, they're the ones that are actually the true savages." Following the remarks, Cannon was fired from ViacomCBS. However, Cannon met Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and will remain in his role as the Host and Executive Producer of the Masked Singer on Fox.
While there seems to have been an uptick in notable African American celebrities and athletes spreading antisemitism, others in the Black community have spoken up and condemned these remarks. Those include Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner, actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, and former NBA stars such as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Charles Barkley, and Amar'e Stoudemire. Many people have rightfully spoken out against the racism in American institutions, but that should not serve as an excuse to harbor antisemitic beliefs that are equally racist.