Ava DuVernay is doing her part to turn a negative narrative about black youth’s hair into an empowering social media movement highlighting the beauty of natural locs. Her campaign, #loclife, comes in response to a viral post of a leader of a non-profit for at-risk youths, who is white, cutting the locs off of a young black man’s head.
The controversy surrounding Crushers Club began on Thursday after it was announced that the NFL and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation would be donating money to the organization as part of the “Inspire Change” initiative. Soon after, however, people on social media started to point out why one of the two organizations chosen to be a part of the initiative is controversial.
A Twitter thread posted by Resist Programming explains the many reasons for the backlash — including resurfaced photos of President Sally Hardgrove smiling while cutting the hair of young black children for “change...and a better life” and promoting the saying “All Lives Matter.”
Crushers Club is an organization receiving part of the $400K in NFL #InspireChange money.— Resist Programming 🛰 (@RzstProgramming) September 5, 2019
They engage youth with activities, but it appears part of their agenda is #copaganda and a troubling practice of encouraging young black males to allow the director to cut off their dreads. pic.twitter.com/Za74kMnsC7
The #JayzNFL initiative is directly funding a group to #InspireChange in long hair styles among Black Chicago youth.— Resist Programming 🛰 (@RzstProgramming) September 5, 2019
How many NFL players have dreads or other long hair styles again? pic.twitter.com/FAH5xITSvV
But as photos of Hardgrove’s “problematic” practice continue to circulate social media, DuVernay is working to change the conversation and create a positive campaign in response.
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 pic.twitter.com/IAw0zjfwWN— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 6, 2019
“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,” the When They See Us director tweeted on Friday, alongside a collection of magazines she covered with her natural locs.
DuVernay went on to encourage others to share their photos with the hashtag #loclife. Already, the hashtag has accumulated hundreds of uplifting photos and sentiments.
Former NFL player, Matthew Cherry, who created the short film and picture book Hair Love chimed in on the conversation with an important visual from his work.
Hardgrove tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Crushers Club doesn’t have any policy regarding hair or hairstyles, but that the young man pictured had asked her to cut his hair as a way of “rebranding” himself.
“I cut his hair off without really thinking about it to be honest,” she said. “But I do understand how my social posts could be misconstrued or could be insensitive to others. I personally have biracial children and I’ve devoted my life to helping the young men and the children here and I had no idea about the backlash I would get when I posted that tweet.”
Now, DuVernay’s tweet continues to put a positive turn on the growing conversation as tens of thousands of people react to her post.
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