Head Of Charity Backed By NFL & Roc Nation Partnership Apologizes For Dreadlock Cutting

September 9, 2019  |  

Roc Nation And NFL Announce Partnership

Source: Kevin Mazur / Getty

The head of a Chicago-based charity which recently came under intense speculation after receiving a $200,000 donation from Jay-Z’s partnership between the NFL and Roc Nation, apologized days after social media images reemerged which showed two Black teens chopping off their locs.

Sally Hazelgrove, the founder and executive director of the Crushers Club, a nonprofit organization, is now apologizing for the photos, which added to the critique of rapper Jay-Z’s new efforts with the NFL and reignited a conversation about respectability politics and assimilation.

In the photos Hazelgrove, a white woman, can be seen standing over the teens as she scissors off their locs. In one of the photos, the image is captioned with, “Another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!” Both of the images were initially shared in 2016 from the Crushers Club’s social media account.

“This was something they asked me to do because they were looking to change their identities,” Hazelgrove told NBC News. “It was not meant to be insensitive,” Hazlegrove continued, adding that she also has bi-racial children.

Her response definitely still was problematic because having half Black children, nor touting that the children were looking to “change their identities,” hits at the very issues commentators had with the post.

“I could see how it could be interpreted as insensitive now that its come out a few years later. I regret not having the forethought and being more sensitive, and that I was not more careful,” Hazelgrove said in a separate statement obtained by ABC Chicago.

After the posts went viral again, one of the teens pictured in the photo made a video explaining that the haircut was the start of a new beginning away from a life on the streets. Crushers Club and Roc Nation retweeted the video from their accounts.

“I’d like to have a conversation with you and those young people about dreads and desires and dreams,” DuVernay wrote. “About dreads and ‘a better life.’ Shame on anyone supporting this full-on nonsense.”

What should be addressed is that having dreadlocks does not link you to a life of crime, and that the changing of hair does not exemplify or guarantee a better life, especially for a young Black man in America. This point was highlighted by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay.

“I’d like to have a conversation with you and those young people about dreads and desires and dreams,” DuVernay wrote. “About dreads and ‘a better life.’ Shame on anyone supporting this full-on nonsense.”

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