Jonathan Sutherland is a member of Penn Stateâs football team and has dreadlocked hair. He received a letter recently from a couple of Penn State alumni complaining about how his hair looks while on the field. The letter was shared online by teammate Antonio Shelton, calling out the writers for their viewpoints with the caption âExplain to me how this isnât racist.â
One of my teammates got this. Explain to me how this isnât racist. pic.twitter.com/Qms1F6DEEP— Antonio Shelton (@_groovy55) October 7, 2019
The letter included segments like âSurely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Donât you have parents or girlfriend whoâve told you those shoulder-length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractiveâ as well as calling it his âawful hair.â Coach James Franklin condemned the letter in a news conference the next day who praised the quality of the player.Â
Sutherland released a statement on his own Twitter account as well, saying âAlthough the message was indeed rude, ignorant and judging, Iâve taken no personal offense to it because personally, I must respect you as a person before I respect your opinion.â The letterâs writer, Dave Petersen, has not commented on the news coverage.Â
His letter also criticized other members of the black sports community, citing the NFL and NBA. Specifically, it said that the couple has stopped viewing NFL broadcasts due to the âdisgustingâ tattoos, âawful hairâ and âimmature antics in the end zone.â Sutherland has said that he considers his hair a part of his identity, and has not changed it in the past 10 years.