The Crushers Club is an organization based in the poverty-stricken Chicago neighborhood of Englewood that helps youth quit gangs through boxing. As part of the recently signed partnership between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL — already controversial with liberals because of the fact Colin Kaepernick is apparently owed a job in the league and Jay-Z seemed willing to overlook this — the group got a $200,000 grant.
That’s when people who obsess over these kinds of things looked over some of the group’s old tweets, denuded them of any context and attacked the woman who runs the group as a racist, Trump-loving, police-apologizing neo-colonialist.
According to Complex, the controversy began when Twitter user @RzstProgramming found some old tweets showing 56-year-old Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove, who is white, cutting off the dreadlocks of one of the club’s members, who is African-American.
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
“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 Thursday tweet read.
Complex also included some now-deleted tweets from the group regarding the loc-cutting with what they called “disconcerting captions.”
“It’s a family thing we box mentor make music & I get to cut hair He’s freaking out but looks so cute!” one read. “And another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!” read another.”
“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,” Complex’s Joshua Espinoza writes.
Oh but wait, it gets more “disconcerting.” The Crushers Club account once used the “dismissive phrase” (Espinoza’s wording) “ALL LIVES MATTER” in a tweet and also asked President Trump to help with the violence there.
In another tweet, someone (assumedly Hazelgrove) wrote that they loved “God my family my country youth and our law enforcement,” which made them “an anomaly in Chicago!”
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
Context is everything, however, so maybe we ought to delve into that. First, the cutting of the dreadlocks, arguably the most damning: In a statement, the Crushers Club stated this wasn’t a forced thing and seemed to intimate it wasn’t suggested, either.
“The Crusher’s Club does not have any policies prohibiting dreadlocks — we welcome all hairstyles from our youth,” a statement from Hazelgrove read.
“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.”
Message from Sally Hazelgrove (Founder and Executive Director, Crushers Club) pic.twitter.com/AYZKBK7PXH
— crushersclub (@crushersclub) September 6, 2019
This seems to be backed up by a Twitter video from a Crushers Club member who identified himself as Kobe said he was one of the individuals whose dreadlocks were cut. In the video, posted Friday, he said the decision was all his.
Message from Kobe pic.twitter.com/3CdH28pCUE
— crushersclub (@crushersclub) September 6, 2019
“Cut my hair like three years ago, that was something I wanted to do,” he said in the 15-second clip. “I was tired of it, tired of gangbanging, tired of messing up.”
According to The New York Times, Hazelgrove also said that of the roughly 500 teens who have come through Crushers Club, only Kobe and one other individual had asked to have their dreadlocks cut off as you will.
Take that as you will. If you hooked up both of these young men to polygraph machines and asked them whether or not it was their idea to cut their locs, I guarantee you there would be people who would say they only passed because of the colonialist mindset they’ve been subjected to.
So, onto that “ALL LIVES MATTER” tweet, and it’s probably worth noting the timing of the post. Hazelgrove made it shortly after the 2016 Dallas massacre, where five police officers were killed in an ambush during a protest march over the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“Praying for Police victims in Dallas lets use this to come together not to be divided more ALL LIVES MATTER United we stand Divided we fall,” the tweet read.
In the wake of the shooting, this doesn’t seem particularly controversial; even if you have a problem with the “All Lives Matter” response to the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” it’s difficult to look at this tweet in light of the circumstances surrounding it and see a problem unless you want or need to see a problem.
And as for the President Trump tweet: “Thank you for constantly speaking out for Chicagp & those of us working against gang violence. We need Trump to help us. Sad to say we need a curfew while we address our current crisis of gun violence. And we need prayer always!”
Again, this sounds less like telegraphing support for the president — not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you — and more like beseeching a man who could potentially do a lot about Chicago’s woes to, well, do something about them. But again, I suspect if Hazelgrove made this remark about President Obama, we’d be hearing about how she didn’t think an African-American president was doing enough about the city from whence he came. One way or another she’s a racist, right?
It’s worth noting none of this is really about Crushers Club or the woman who runs it. The issue is that the NFL is enemy number one for a certain subset of liberals because it doesn’t provide the aforementioned Mr. Kaepernick with a lifetime sinecure for being so woke.
Never mind that there are a multitude of reasons why he’s not in the league that doesn’t have to do with his political opinions. As long as their favorite anthem-protester and Betsy Ross detractor isn’t on the field, they’re going to be searching for every possible way the NFL could be construed as racist. Jay-Z was willing to partner with the NFL and said that he would rather focus on helping “millions and millions of people” than “get stuck on Colin not having a job.”
So, if smearing a boxing club that keeps Chicago kids away from gangs is useful in that pursuit because they got money from the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation when the woman behind it isn’t suitably liberal, hey — whatever works, right?
For the record, the group will still be getting the $200,000 grant from the NFL. Everyone gets what they want, it seems. The Crushers Club gets its money, the mob gets its pound of flesh, everyone is a winner. Welcome to public discourse in 2019.
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