It has to be explained to us clueless whites that doing a good deed for an impoverished black neighborhood in Chicago can actually be a bad deed.
So it was when Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper and businessman Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, partnered with the NFL "to enhance the NFL's live game experiences and to amplify the league's social justice efforts."
A part of the effort benefited Englewood, the neighborhood in the grip of gang violence, with a $200,000 donation to the Crushers Club, a Chicago non-profit boxing program that helps boys grow into real men. The club's founder, Sally Hazelgrove, has lived in and conducted this program for years and has "won many accolades and awards for her work."
Yet, the roof caved in on her because she had posted a video showing her cutting the dreadlocks of a black teen who had joined the program: “Another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life!”
Did I mention that Hazelgrove is a white woman?
Which, I suppose makes her blind to a community that she has worked in, lived in and benefited for years. You'd gather that from reading, for example, "NFL’s donation to Englewood charity sparks an online storm — and reveals a case of ‘do-gooder syndrome’" by Cindy Dampier in the Chicago Tribune. (Go to Google and you'll find a raft of similar stories.)
It's a one-sided opinion pieced camouflaged as a feature story that quotes Dave Stovall, a University of Illinois at Chicago Professor of African-American Studies and Criminology, Law & Justice, as being "dismayed and angry."
Dampier helpfully explained why Hazelgrove's post is a case of "remarkably clueless" do-gooder syndrome:
Charitable people with good intentions who are trying to do good things, [Stovall] says, can be easily tripped up by assumptions or lack of cultural sensitivity. “This is when you come in thinking you’re going to contribute to the community, but instead you further marginalize the community.”
Oh, the humanity!
An observation or two if I might be allowed without being cast into the pit of slimy, crawling racists. The kid getting his hair cut, I presume, wasn't forced to as a condition of participating in the program. Maybe, just maybe, it was his choice. Maybe, to him, having his hair cut, a was a symbolic severing his ties with a destructive and violent culture.
Did any of the academics and reporters bother to ask him? And how crushed was he after he, by implication, was ridiculed all over the internet for supposedly being manipulated by white culture? Did he slide back into the destructive gang culture?
(Actually, he did speak out in support of his decision to get his hair cut. And Hazelgrove responded. Also, see below.)
No one should be surprised by the negative avalanche, because anything to do with the NFL and race is immediately suspect--well, more than suspect, more like immediately condemned. Think not?
The controversy is yet another example of mandated group-think. That if you don't agree with us, you are an evil person. That the media so facility promote conformist thinking is as great a danger as was the demagogic Sen. Joe McCarthy was years ago. It's all so divisive and cruel.
Hazelwood and Kobe respond:
Hazelgrove responded to the criticism by explaining that she had been asked to cut the young men's dreads and had not thought that deeply about the matter. “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," Hazelgrove stated. "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.” She also had to backpedal on her use of the phrase "All Lives Matter" in a now-deleted tweet.
One of the teens pictured, named Kobe, also spoke out about the incident, confirming that he had in fact requested for Hazelgrove to do this and was grateful she did. “I cut my hair like three years ago, that was something I wanted to do,” Kobe, 19, said in the video. “I was tired of it, tired of gangbanging, tired of messing up. Now I’m a changed young man. Trying to see bigger and better dreams.”
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