One of the first major moves that the NFL and Roc Nation’s “Inspire Change” program will make is donate $400,000 to two Chicago groups that position themselves as local service organizations aimed at helping keep children in low-income neighborhoods off the streets, according to TMZ. The recipients of this money will be the BBF (Better Boys Foundation) Family Services and the Crusher’s Club.
While the two groups supposedly have the same goal in mind, their presences on social media could not be any different. The BBF 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!” They also put out a photo of the organization’s founder cutting off someone’s dreadlocks:
(We’ve emailed Crusher’s Club about this tweet in particular, and will update it if and when they get back to us.)
This collection of troubling posts was resurfaced thanks to Twitter user Resist Programming, who provided a bit of a breakdown of just what kind of organization the NFL’s money was going to. The main character in all of this is Crusher’s Club founder, Sally Hazelgrove. While spearheading a movement to get young black kids away from gangs isn’t inherently evil, it’s her approach to that goal that makes her undertaking seem a bit icky. The organization regularly uses cheesy prop methods to mend the gap between members of the community and local police. Hazelgrove cited probation officer testimonials as signs of success, and her work has resulted in an award for community leadership from, of all places, the FBI.
Crusher’s Club’s approach to community work would seem to make it an odd fit with the expressed social justice goals of the Inspire Change project. On the other hand, a partnership between an initiative designed to “amplify...social justice efforts” and an organization whose concept of community service appears to have been ripped from your worst uncle’s Facebook page makes more sense when you remember that the NFL–Roc Nation partnership is first and foremost a marketing alliance, designed to position a prominent black face between the league and any rising expectations of responsible corporate citizenship. Any actual social justice improvements will be a bonus—partnering with Crusher’s Club sends a pretty good signal that Inspire Change is as interested in appeasing disingenuous All Lives Matters types as it is in, well, inspiring change.
Even if you gave the league the benefit of the doubt with its partnership with Jay Z, it has since become clearer than before—and it was already pretty clear—that the hip-hop mogul would not be the person to steer the NFL’s ship in the right direction:
It’s not clear whether it’s willful ignorance or legitimate stupidity that’s guiding which way this initiative is headed, but what is clear is that it’s going the opposite direction from what Colin Kaepernick likely wanted when he first got the ball rolling, which is probably good enough for the NFL.