Group Getting Donation From Roc Nation and NFL Criticized Over Dreadlock-Cutting Photos; Woman Involved Responds

The young man involved said he wanted his hair to be cut because he "was tired of it, tired of gangbanging, tired of messing up."

jay z roger backlash chicago group dreads

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 14: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Jay Z at the Roc Nation and NFL Partnership Announcement at Roc Nation on August 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

jay z roger backlash chicago group dreads

Controversy continues to swirl around the Roc Nation and NFL partnership.

As part of their collaborative Inspire Change initiative, the entities have pledged to donate $400,000 to two Chicago-based youth organizations: the BBF (Better Boys Foundation) Family Services and the Crushers Club. The latter nonprofit was scheduled to receive its $200,000 Thursday, coinciding with a free concert featuring Inspire Change advocates Meek Mill and Meghan Trainor; however, hours before the event was to take place, the Crushers Club was hit with backlash over a series resurfaced tweets.

As pointed out by Twitter user @RzstProgramming, the Crushers Club account features photos of its president, Sally Hazelgrove, cutting the dreadlocks off two black youths who were presumably involved with the organization. The images were posted on social media with disconcerting captions:

Today, the NFL’s #InspireChange “social justice” group is funding & visiting a non-profit that wants to cut off the locks of Chicago Black youth for “a better life.”

— Resist Programming 🛰 (@RzstProgramming) September 5, 2019

How does cutting off locks give Black kids "a better life?"

The problem is not with the kids' hair. It's with the racist assumptions about culturally acceptable hair.

Focus on the racism instead -- right?

— Simran Jeet Singh (@simran) September 5, 2019

This practice of cutting off children's locs was immediately criticized as racist, as it perpetuates harmful stereotypes and suggests a "professional" appearance is strictly tied to European standards. 

I am a Black law professor with locs. I earned tenure with locs. I’ve taught students with locs. I’ve gone to court & advocated on behalf of clients with locs. I didn’t have to cut off my locs to do any of those things. Stop colonizing our children’s minds.

— Erika K Wilson (@Erika_K_Wilson) September 5, 2019
Message from Kobe

Thank you so much! I love God my family my country youth and our law enforcement so Im an anomaly in Chicago!

— crushersclub (@crushersclub) July 30, 2018

Following the backlash, the Crushers Club posted a Twitter video in which "Kobe"—one of the purported youths whose dreadlocks were cut—defended the practice. 

"Cut my hair like three years ago, that was something I wanted to do," he said. "I was tired of it, tired of gangbanging, tired of messing up."

Hazelgrove told TMZ she cut the boy's hair at his request.

"The Crusher’s Club does not have any policies prohibiting dreadlocks — we welcome all hairstyles from our youth," Hazelgrove said in a statement. "On occasion, our kids look to change their hairstyles and ask us to assist, especially since haircuts can be a costly expense for them. Our goal is — and will always be — to equip our youth with the resources to improve their neighborhoods, maximize their potential and develop into the leaders of tomorrow."

But the controversy didn't end there. @RzstProgramming also highlighted other questionable tweets from the Crushers Club account—one of which included the dismissive phrase "ALL LIVES MATTER," while another stated, "We need Trump to help us" as Chicago struggles with gun violence.

A source connected to Thursday's Inspire Change event said the Crushers Club will still receive the $200,000 donation, and claimed the backlash against the nonprofit and its president was a form of "reverse racism."

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