Thursday, 17 October, 2019

PSU Coach Responds to ‘Racist’ Letter Sent to Player

Penn State fans cheer during the game last month against Pitt. Fans will get a look behind the scenes of the program on HBO's 24/7 College Football show which airs Oct. 9 Angry Penn State fan sends nasty letter telling Jonathan Sutherland to cut his dreadlocks
Shannon Reynolds | 09 October, 2019, 15:56

Penn State football players, coaches, and the community rallied to support Jonathan Sutherland after the star safety got a letter criticizing him for the long dreadlocks he said are part of his identity.

The letter was sent to Penn State safety Jonathan Sutherland and it gained attention after his teammates posted it on social media Monday night.

Meanwhile, a Johnstown man who said he wrote the letter, still stands by its message -telling the Tribune-Democrat he never meant to be racist or culturally insensitive. "Don't you have parents or girlfriend who've told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive", the letter says.

A letter about athlete's appearance addressed to a Penn State football player has gotten a strong response from fellow players and the school.

"The football that I know and love brings people together and embraces differences - black, white, brown, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, rich or poor, rural or urban, Republican or Democrat".

"He's the ultimate example of what our program is all about", Franklin said.

Nittany Lions teammate CJ Holmes posted it on Twitter on Monday, writing: "I also have dreadlocks, tattoos and National Football League dreams, these messages can not be tolerated". He's got two of the most supportive parents.

The letter was signed by Dave Petersen, who is a fan of the team. We live. We learn.

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The man wrote that he couldn't help noticing Sutherland's "awful hair" during the home opener against the University of Idaho.

Another player, Antonio Shelton, wrote: "Explain to me how this isn't racist". 'We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance'. "At the end of the day, without an apology needed, I forgive this individual because I'm nowhere close to being ideal and I expect God to forgive me for all the wrong I've done in my life".

The letter went on to congratulate Sutherland on Penn State's victory against the University of Pittsburgh on September 14 but urged him to "remember [he] represents all Penn Staters both current and those alumni from years past", and suggested that Penn State should bring back a dress code. "We're just going to move on from this".

"I want everybody who is a letterman to make sure you don't stand for things like that". Then he calls Sutherland's hair "awful" and said the dreadlocks look "disgusting" and "not attractive". "And it's the same for the National Football League and NBA, too".

A bunch of Penn State players - both current and former - chimed in blasting the letter as offensive. and even the school got involved, with Sandy Barbour issuing a statement backing the players. "Their dress, tattoos, or hairstyle has no imact on my suport, nor does their gender, skin color, sexuality or religion!"

Sutherland is a junior from Ottawa, Canada, who was redshirted as a freshman.

"Don't be scared to be different!" he wrote. We don't judge; we embrace differences.

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