Roc Nation, NFL To Donate $400K To Chicago Charities. Twitter Claims This Is Checkers

Written by Dana Sanchez

As part of a newly launched partnership, Jay-Z’s entertainment group Roc Nation and the National Football League are donating $400,000 to two Chicago charities — the Crushers Club and the Better Boys Foundation Family Services organization.

The donations are part of a push by the NFL to fix its tarnished image following the public relations disaster over the way it handled player protests against racism and police brutality starting in 2016.

Chicago charities
Sally Hazelgrove is founder of Crushers Club, a high-risk youth violence prevention program on Chicago’s South Side. It’s one of two Chicago charities that will share a $400K donation from Roc Nation and the NFL. In 2016, Hazelgrove tweeted this photo of herself cutting a teen named Kobe’s hair. Social media backlash focused on the imagery — a white woman cutting his hair — and the caption, “It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life.” Image: TMZ

Jay-Z has been criticized for what’s seen as a sellout deal. He had previously spoken out against the NFL for its treatment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality and started a movement. Kaepernick’s symbolic gesture resulted in him being blackballed by the NFL.

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Now Roc Nation and the NFL are getting more heat over one of the two charities chosen to receive part of a $400,000 donation. Both are local service organizations aimed at helping keep children in low-income neighborhoods off the streets, according to TMZ.

However, their presence on social media could not be more different, Deadspin reported.

The Better Boys Foundation “has tweets related to the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and what to do if ICE comes knocking on your door. The Crusher’s Club account, meanwhile, has tweeted out things like ‘ALL LIVES MATTER,’ ‘We need Trump to help us’ with regards to gang violence in Chicago, and ‘I love God my family my country youth and our law enforcement so Im an anomaly in Chicago!'”

Twitter user Resist Programming dug up old tweets from the nonprofit.

The tweets getting the most attention are photos and a comment sent out in 2016 by Sally Hazelgrove, founder of Crushers Club. She’s cutting the dreadlocks off a teen named Kobe. The comment with the image says, “It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life.”

The Crushers Club is high-risk youth violence prevention and reduction program on Chicago’s South Side. Boxing training, a music studio and a leadership and mentoring program are the core platforms of the club. “We arm young people with the support and skills they need to restore their lives and improve their neighborhood,” the club says on its site. “Crushers Club is rooted in four ideals—respect, discipline, ownership, and love—that give our members a fighting chance.”

The photo was tweeted by Crushers Club almost three years ago, TMZ reported. “The social media backlash is focused on the imagery — a white woman cutting Kobe’s locks — and Sally’s caption, ‘It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life.’ People who are critical think it reeks of cultural insensitivity.”

TMZ shows both Kobe and Hazelgrove talking on videos about the photo.

The critics have it all wrong, Kobe said. Once the social media outrage started, he posted a video explaining that he wanted his hair cut. “That’s something I wanted to do because I was tired of it. Tired of gang banging, tired of messing up. Now, I’m a changed young man.”

“Jay Z, Roc Nation and the NFL just gave $200K to an All Lives Matter organization that they say was extensively vetted and I just need to know from ‘Chess Not Checkers’ Twitter what this particular move is called,” April Reign tweeted @ReignofApril. Reign is the activist who created #OscarsSoWhite, the Twitter campaign that helped change Hollywood.

Resist Programming dug up old tweets showing the Crushers Club’s support for the Chicago police department, a tweet in which they write All Lives Matter; and a tweet asking President Donald Trump for help, according to OkayPlayer.

After the posts went viral, Hazelgrove sent a statement to The Fader saying that the Crushers Club doesn’t prohibit kids from having dreadlocks. “On occasion, our kids look to change their hairstyles and ask us to assist, especially since haircuts can be a costly expense for them,” she said.