Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL has its share of skeptics and those skeptics have one more thing to criticize today. One of the Inspire Change initiative’s beneficiaries is the Crushers Club, a Chicago-based non-profit working with at-risk kids. The NFL plans to give $400,000 to the Crushers Club, but the non-profit has come under scrutiny after critics resurfaced old tweets with some questionable content, particularly a post in which one of the program’s directors appears to be cutting the dreadlocks from one of the kids.
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
@RzstProgramming, a Twitter account that purports to be a “researcher” which has tweeted about the Jay-Z deal extensively since it was announced, reposted the photos from the old tweet, writing: “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.’” The tweet went viral, sparking further criticism of Jay-Z, Roc Nation, and the NFL. Eventually, the Crushers Club account tweeted its own rebuttal featuring the young man from the video — identified as Kobe — who explained that the haircut was his own idea.
“They cut my hair like three years ago,” Kobe said. “That’s something I wanted to do. I was tired of it. Tired of gang banging. Tired of messing up.” Crushers Club also issued a statement from founder Sally Hazelgrove, the woman depicted in the haircutting photos, justifying the photos as a service provided to the club members, not a mandatory policy.
The Crusher’s Club does not have any policies prohibiting dreadlocks — we welcome all hairstyles from our youth. 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.
Of course, cutting dreadlocks has become a hot button issue since a New Jersey high school wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match last year, which likely contributed to the response against Crushers Club. Although the photos were taken in a different context, social justice advocates has been primed to be sensitive to the optics of such a situation.
Meanwhile, other tweets that were dredged up by @RzstProgramming — labeled as “copaganda” by the account’s administrator — do supposedly depict the Crushers Club account using sensitive phrases like “All Lives Matter,” however many of the original tweets have since been deleted. Given the confusion surrounding the origins of phrase, a generous reading could be that the account’s admin did not realize the context under which that term was used as a rebuttal to the anti-authoritarian motto “Black Lives Matter” rather than an extension. Either way, the tweets have been deleted and it doesn’t appear that the NFL’s Inspire Change program has changed its plans to donate the funds.