(AllHipHop News) Crushers Club was one of the first organizations to receive a $200,000 donation from the new NFL/Roc Nation's Inspire Change partnership. The Chicago-based nonprofit quickly became a trending topic for something other than philanthropy.
A three-year-old photo of Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove, a white woman, cutting a black teenager's dreadlocks went viral after the Inspire Change announcement. The caption for the tweet pic read, "And another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It's symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!"
Hazelgrove faced significant backlash for seemingly perpetuating that African-Americans have to shed their natural hair in order to be accepted into white society. Crushers Club issued a statement about the matter, but critics still questioned the intent of the mentoring program.
Kobe Richardson was the person in the photograph with Hazelgrove. The Crushers Club joiner appeared in a social media video explaining that he wanted to change his hairstyle because he was tired of gangbanging.
That message was also hit with negative reactions. Some people believed Crushers Club, the NFL, or Roc Nation forced Richardson to appear in the clip defending Hazelgrove. He has since spoken to media outlets to further address the controversy.
“No. [I didn’t believe cutting my dreads would give me a better life.] That was something I wanted to do. I didn’t look at dreads as a [cultural] statement. It was a popular hairstyle back then in the rap industry, and I just wanted to wear it like everybody else," Richardson told BET. "I was tired of the dreads and wanted a different look. I came to her and asked her to cut them for me because I didn't have any money to go to the barber. The whole reason there was a picture is because I asked if I could get a picture of me one last time with the dreads, so I can have a memory.”
He added, "Sally has built a bond with us. She wants to create more opportunities for us. People in Englewood come around and partner with her to offer jobs to members of the club. Her intentions are pure and she loves us.”
Richardson and Elizabeth Talbert, the mother of another Crushers Club member named Elijah, also visited The Angie Martinez Show. They talked about how it is understandable why some people were concerned about the "white savior" perception of Hazelgrove but insisted she is a positive influence in their community. Richardson also pushed back against the narrative that Hazelgrove is a supporter of Donald Trump.