An NFL and Roc Nation-backed nonprofit cut kids’ dreadlocks off as a symbol for ‘a better life’ and people are outraged

Crusher Club founder Sally Hazelgrove, pictured cutting dreadlocks off of two teens.

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Crusher Club founder Sally Hazelgrove, pictured cutting dreadlocks off of two teens.
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Twitter

  • Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove apologized after she faced backlash over photos that emerged showing her cutting teens’ dreadlocks off as a symbol for “a better life.”
  • Her Chicago-based nonprofit is backed by the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation as part of their Inspire Change initiative.
  • Images that circulated on Twitter showed Hazelgrove with scissors in her hand posing with two black teens.
  • People on social media, including Ava DuVernay and Don Cheadle, criticized the images.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The founder of a nonprofit backed by the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has apologized after she faced backlash over photos that emerged showing her cutting teens’ dreadlocks off as a symbol for “a better life.”

As part of their Inspire Change initiative, Roc Nation and the NFL pledged to donate $400,000 to two Chicago-based youth organizations, one of which was The Crushers Club, founded by Sally Hazelgrove.

Images circulating on Twitter showed Hazelgrove with scissors in her hand posing with two black teens.

One caption, according to a screen grab from Variety, read: “And another crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!”

People on social media were outraged by the images. Critics included Ava DuVernay, Don Cheadle, and more.

One of the teens pictured told TMZ that he specifically wanted to get his haircut by Hazelgrove.

“That’s something I wanted to do because I was tired of it. Tired of gang banging, tired of messing up. Now, I’m a changed young man,” the teen, named Kobe, said.

Read more: A black news anchor was compared to a gorilla on live TV by one of his colleagues, and he’s using it as a powerful lesson that ‘words matter’

Hazelgrove said in a statement to USA Today she cut the teens’ hair “without much thought.”

“Out of 500 youth going through our doors I cut two young men’s hair because they asked me to and we are a family structure and so I did it and didn’t really think about it after that,” she said in an email to the paper. “I tweeted about it without much thought. It’s hair. but I regret it now and I promise you I will not be doing that again if asked.”

Hazelgrove’s nonprofit aims to be the “strongest alternative to gangs” through activist like boxing, music, and mentoring, according to its website, which says the organization is rooting in respect, discipline, ownership, and love.

Hair-based discrimination against styles like dreadlocks and braids can target African Americans communities, where such hairstyles have cultural importance and historical significance. Because of this, cutting someone’s dreadlocks can perpetuate harmful and racist stereotypes about hair while also determining what is seen as a “professional” haircut.

In July, California became the first state to ban discrimination against natural hair in the workplace.