- 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.
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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!”
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.” https://t.co/JdvWliIEqv pic.twitter.com/GpPV0DqK2M
— Resist Programming ???? (@RzstProgramming) September 5, 2019
People on social media were outraged by the images. Critics included Ava DuVernay, Don Cheadle, and more.
Let’s replace those images of a Trump supporter gleefully cutting a young black man’s locs to give him a “better life”… with the beauty and majesty of life with locs. If you adorn yourself with natural locs, share your pictures with the hashtag #loclife. I’ll start. xo pic.twitter.com/IAw0zjfwWN
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 6, 2019
what in the sham delilah is happening …?!?! https://t.co/MXAkIyxCIP
— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) September 6, 2019
In case y'all still don't understand the ingrained structural nature of racism, literally cutting (clean, kept, and culturally significant) parts off Black bodies bc it/less Blackness leads to a "better life" IS RACIST. https://t.co/y4Nxgpr6bn
— ✊????Vita Ayala????????????️???? (@definitelyvita) September 6, 2019
Infuriating. These black boys and men are beautiful, professional, and employable with their hair locked. They sure AF don't need white women despoiling their heritage to "make it" for a "better life." If they want to change their look themselves, that's fine. This is shameful. https://t.co/jtIh6dKWo6
— Black in Paradise (@WilGafney) September 5, 2019
Better life? I am a #Nurse with locs. My daughter will be a #Teacher with locs. My children have them. I know numerous professionals with them and we will cut them for NO ONE! To do so reminds me of slavery and losing my sense of self. https://t.co/o9sA86KqTW
— SummerBreanne (@Summer_Reignzz) September 6, 2019
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. https://t.co/c3ClMg4XVx
— Erika K Wilson (@Erika_K_Wilson) September 5, 2019
I've worn my locs in offices, on stages, & to collect awards. #loclife is wearing your heritage proudly wherever you go. I wore them to pick up my MA a few years ago. And I'll be wearing them at @xoxo this weekend. Just so we're clear on success with locs. pic.twitter.com/Kq2RIWXv0s
— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) September 6, 2019
Those who criminalize people of African descent because of the natural texture of their hair, are trying to control Black bodies, denying Black beauty and are threatened by Black resilience. (2/2)
— Chirlane McCray (@Chirlane) September 6, 2019
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.
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.
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