The Chicago-based youth organization that shared photos last week of its white president cutting off a teenagers’ dreadlocks continues to face backlash over the unsettling image.
Sally Hazelgrove, the founder of the Crushers Club, captioned one of the images: “And another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!”
As noted by Complex, the photos were posted nearly three years ago, but resurfaced this week after JAY-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL donated $200,000 to the Crushers Club as part of the Inspire Change program. The images were immediately criticized for implying that Black folks have to conform to white beauty standards in order to achieve a “better life.”
Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay was among the many celebrities who responded to the photo controversy.
“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,” she wrote on Twitter.
Filmmaker Tariq Nasheed also noted, “Sally Hazelgrove from the Crushers Club, has a history of cutting Black boy’s hair & she is a Trump supporter who believes that Black people in Chicago should be placed on a curfew. And guess who is helping to fund her and her organization? Jay-Z, Roc Nation, and the NFL.”
A day after DuVernay’s post, one of the teens who had his locs cut off defended his white female savior in a video published by TMZ. The young man, Kobe Richardson, believes Hazelgrove and DuVernay shared the same goal.
“Y’all both stand up for your community and what y’all believe in, as I see it,” he said. “… I think y’all probably should get to meet each other. You’d probably love each other if you get to sit down and have a talk, because both of y’all are standing up for what is right. And that’s black lives and everybody’s lives matter—everyone, not just black.”
Kobe explained he had asked Hazelgrove to cut off his dreadlocks because he couldn’t afford a barber. He made the big chop because he “got tired of being profiled as something that I’m not.”
“That was something I wanted to do—that was my choice,” he said. “Yes, I know dreadlocks are a [part of] culture … I just got tired of being profiled as something that I’m not.”
You can hear Kobe’s full comments via the video above.