Last week Kylie Irving’s team, the Cleveland Cavaliers (maybe you’ve heard of them?), won their first NBA championship, the city’s first title in more than 50 years. Teammate LeBron James garnered most of the credit and coverage after the team’s astounding bounce-back to win the series after being down 3-1. But Irving, 24, was a significant contributor to the Cavaliers’ success, and it’s rumored that he’s been on a celebration streak ever since the championship game.
His latest adventure involves a yacht party in Miami, which sounds about what I would be doing if I were a 24-year-old millionaire with a championship ring and no job to report to for the summer. But Irving has come under fire for his soiree at sea. Video footage of the party surfaced online last week, and the lack of melanin among its female inhabitants—at least the ones featured in the video shots—was noticeable. It was an all-white party, but not like the clothes—as in the women. It was whiter than the photo of Tidal executives; as white as the writers’ room of Orange Is the New Black.
Black Twitter had a clichéd field day over the video, which was so widely discussed that Irving wound up as the butt of a joke on Sunday night’s BET Awards. When introducing music artist Bryson Tiller, BET host Anthony Anderson noted that Tiller’s YouTube videos had over 100 million views. “The same amount of white women that Kyrie Irving had at his pool party,” Anderson quipped.
On Monday, Irving responded to the controversy on Instagram, posting a picture of himself at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas alongside three black men, a black woman and another woman who appeared racially ambiguous in the photo. The image caption read, “All different shades. #Tryadifferentstory #2016WorldChampions.”
I guess it was supposed to clean up the mess he’d made? But it was too little, too late for many of Irving’s black female fans, who were already deeply disappointed.
“Let me throw a no blacks allowed party. And I wonder if I’d get black men defending me too because of my preference,” wrote Twitter user @JessicaFoxworth.
From black female user @ambitious: “I wonder how his Mother, Aunt, Sister and Cousin[s] feel?”
It was a collective disappointment that black male fans who weighed in on the topic didn’t seemed to understand.
“So, black women are mad that Kyrie Irving didn’t invite them on his yacht to be objectified and used for sex,” wrote Twitter user @JorELWC. “I’m lost.”
From user @DerrickT4: “Some of these women upset at #KyrieIrving act like becoming a hoe is a career goal. Yall really need to check yourselves.”
And from a male friend on Facebook: “I'm confused about something and maybe my black sisters can help me with this … ya’ll are upset there were no black women invited on the boat? Y'all do know he is single and this boat ride was an orgy at sea right? You tight because you didn't get invited to get smutted out? Is this what you are angry about? #stopcryingwolf”
Black women weren’t upset because it appeared that no black women were invited to a party, where it’s possible that many of the women would be classified as groupies. The black women who were upset were mad because it’s yet another case of rejection by black men. If the claims about Irving’s party are true, it’s another example of how some black men place any woman who isn’t black—but especially white women—on pedestals, and treat black women as less desirable.
It’s not that black women were eager to get aboard a yacht and be “smutted out.” It’s that Irving’s lily-white celebration was a reminder that when some black men feel like they’ve arrived, their symbol of success isn’t a woman who looks like their mother or sister but, rather, a white woman, while the black women who were loyal when that same black man struggled are discarded as if they’re valueless. Irving’s boat party was yet another example of a black man who, when he gets on, “he leave your ass for a white girl.”
Black men don’t really know that particular brand of rejection. To a fault, black women tend to stay blindly loyal, fighting to hold on to and to protect the men who look like their brothers, fathers and sons, even when so many black men act as if they just can’t be but so bothered to care about black women or, worse, are the perpetrators of so much of black women’s hurt.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.