Kanye, Kyrie, and the Danger of Black Israelite Identity
Kanye West drew media attention during an interview with Fox News when he claimed that the "true" Jewish race is represented by "the 12 lost tribes of Judah," or, as he stated, "the people known as the race Black." But what did he mean by this controversial statement?
Pastor Wayne Wilks and I recently returned from a short trip to Israel, where we met a lot of new people in the Jewish community. It was incredibly eye-opening to spend time in some new places in the Bible lands.
While we were there, we had numerous conversations with religious Orthodox Jews who expressed growing concern with the increase in antisemitism in America. Specifically, many of them talked about Kanye West, Kyrie Irving and the “Black Israelite” movement.
Kanye drew media attention after an interview on Fox News where he claimed that when he refers to Jews he means “the 12 lost tribes of Judah, the blood of Christ, who the people known as the race Black really are.” He went on to say that it is impossible for him to be antisemitic, because as a Black person he is actually a Jew. In subsequent interviews, he doubled down on this way of viewing himself, all while blaming the “Jewish media” and “Jewish Zionists” for many of his woes in life.
Kyrie Irving, one of the NBA’s most popular athletes, also drew criticism when he tweeted a link to a 2018 documentary, “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.” This film is widely known to be filled with antisemitic stereotypes, and pushes the Black Israelite agenda. When Kyrie was confronted about the tweet, he doubled down by saying he wouldn’t “stand down on anything I believe in.”
First, the Black Hebrew Israelite movement is – at its core – an issue of misplaced identity. Pastor David has done a great job describing the biblical distinction between Jewish and Gentile identity in the past few weeks. I encourage you to read his articles on these topics!
1. There is No Longer Jew or Gentile?
2. Who is More Important – Jews or Gentiles?
Black Israelite theology asserts that modern Jews are not the “true Jews.” They claim that the true descendants of the Twelve Tribes (Jews) are found in today’s Black community – and the normative Jewish community is largely made up of caucasian converts to Judaism from hundreds of years ago.
This is yet another iteration of replacement theology. Instead of the church replacing Israel, these Black Israelites claim to have replaced modern Jews. It is, at its core, antisemitic.
It is also especially insidious because there are hundreds of thousands of Jews of African descent – both in Israel (over 100K Ethiopian-Israeli Jews), and America. Once again, it is an attempt by God’s adversary, the devil, to erase Jewish distinction from the earth. (Learn more in our video: What Makes Someone Jewish?)
Gender and ethnic distortion seems to be one of the main weapons of the enemy today. He knows that if he can confuse God’s creative design, he can derail God’s redemptive purposes on earth.
I want to encourage you to read three specific resources that will help you gain a very thorough understanding of God’s creative distinctions:
1. Dr. David Rudolph’s article on the “One New Man“
2. GCFI’s perspective paper on “The Church & Jewish Identity“
3. Our 2-minute video “An Important Truth About Racial Healing“
At the heart of this incorrect and unhealthy Black Israelite movement is a misunderstanding of God’s creative design. We’ll speak more specifically to this issue in the future. Until then, take some time to learn about the core of “Jewish replacement theories” by learning about the Bible’s healthy model for ethnic distinction.
We pray that Kanye West, Kyrie Irving, Dave Chappelle, and all other sympathizers of Black Israelite theology would realize God created them perfectly and wonderfully just as they are. There is no need to fabricate an alternative ethnic history in order to be the “true chosen” of God.
Let us know if you have further questions about this, or any thoughts about topics like this!
We would love to know if you have any further thoughts or questions on this. Also, let us know how any of this affects you or sits with you. Are you similarly concerned by this? Are you not? We’d love to hear from you.
By Nic Lesmeister
Gateway Center for Israel