Chicago charity apologizes for 'insensitive' tweets after receiving $200K from NFL

Jack Baer
Yahoo Sports Contributor

A day after the NFL proudly staged its “Inspire Change” concert, one of the non-profits the league picked to receive a small fortune is apologizing for Twitter behavior lambasted by a number of critics.

The founder of Crushers Club, a Chicago-based charity that professes on its website to give young people an alternative to gangs and improve neighborhoods, released an apology to USA Today on Friday for tweets that showed her happily cutting off young black men’s dreadlocks.

Crushers Club was one of two charities reported to have received $200,000 from “Inspire Change” ambassadors Meek Mill and Rapsody on behalf of the initiative.

NFL-backed charity criticized over tweets

The tweets in question have since been deleted, as well some other Twitter behavior documented by certain users. Of course, the screencaps still remain:

The cutting of dreadlocks has become a contentious issue over the last few years, with a number of incidents in the sports community resulting in apologies from white authority figures. One such incident saw a high school wrestler forced by a referee to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit a match. An Alabama office was also taken to court over a dreadlock ban, while California made headlines this year by making such discrimination illegal.

The images of the dreadlock cutting started circulating around the time of the NFL’s “Inspire Change” concert featuring Meek Mill, Rapsody and Meghan Trainor. Sally Hazelgrove, the woman in the photo, has since defended herself.

From USA Today:

"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," Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove said in an email. "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.

"The hatred and accusations from this took me by surprise. ... The backlash has been hard to be honest."

Also coming into question from the Crushers Club Twitter account are several likes of tweets from President Donald Trump and several of his popular supporters, including Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk and Laura Ingraham.

Other past tweets found include proclamations that Chicago needs Trump and curfews to be saved, criticisms of activists “demonizing” police officerslamenting the morals of Chicago residents, and the “All Lives Matter” phrase created to directly undermine the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hazelgrove conceded to USA Today that some of those tweets were insensitive:

"I said that not to take away from black lives matter, but to be inclusive of everyone," Hazelgrove said. "I never meant to belittle or disrespect anyone. I will be more sensitive of what I say moving forward. I truly have love for everyone of all races, religions and preferences, and hate does not live in me. I am so sorry for being insensitive."

Jay-Z called for action over kneeling. Is this what he had in mind? (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

NFL’s Jay-Z partnership off to a roaring start

Obviously, none of this squares with what many were hoping to see from Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL. The rap mogul caught plenty of flack for saying that the social justice movement is “past kneeling” and that it’s “time for action.” It’s hard to believe supporting non-profits such as this is the action Jay-Z had in mind, though it’s a little easier to believe from the NFL.

This all could be cynically viewed as the natural result of the racial justice “movement” the NFL has propped up in response to Colin Kaepernick, who Jay-Z has strongly supported in the past. Jay-Z also claimed he had communicated with Kaepernick over the matter, but was immediately contradicted.

The league started its “Inspire Change” program, paid Jay-Z — possibly with an entire team — to give its efforts a credible face, used his clout to build music and apparel revenue streams, then somehow facilitated the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to a non-profit with morals clearly in complete opposition to everything Kaepernick was kneeling for.

Even if the charity selection is simply an oversight, it comes at an awful time as the NFL tries to convince people it really wants to create change, while its detractors claim the league only wants to take control of the social justice narrative from Kaepernick.

Carolina Panthers safety and noted Jay-Z critic Eric Reid predictably joined in on the critics of the anti-dreadlock charity with a subtle endorsement of his own hairstyle.

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