Letter from Penn State graduate causes outrage

Amber Anderson | Staff Writer

The Penn State University football community was outraged recently when star safety Jonathan Sutherland re- ceived a letter from a “proud” graduate of the university, criticizing him for his locs. 

Sutherland’s teammate, defensive tackle Antonio Shelton, on Monday posted a picture of the letter on Twitter. “One of my teammates got this,” Shelton wrote. “Explain to me how this isn’t racist.” 

In the letter, the graduate wrote that while watching Penn State’s home opener against the University of Idaho, he couldn’t help but notice Sutherland’s “awful hair.” 

The graduate even asked in the letter, “Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder-length dreadlocks look disgusting and are
certainly not attractive.”

Many people took to social media to share their outrage about the letter. Rapper T.I. posted a picture of the letter on Instagram.

“Listen King… U better not be persuaded to adjust your look due to this ignorant bigots lack of perspective,” he wrote.

Wayne Bumbry, a Hampton University first-year sports management major from Prince’s George’s County, Maryland, was disgusted after reading
the letter.

“Athletes should be able to wear
[their hair] however they want and dress how they want – it’s a part of their personality,” Bumbry said.

T.I. wasn’t the only one who came to Sutherland’s defense. Penn State coach James Franklin defended him the following day after the letter had surfaced, during a news conference.

“Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program,” Franklin said. “He’s the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He’s a captain. He’s a dean’s list honors student. He’s confident, he’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he’s thoughtful, he’s caring and he’s committed.” Sutherland took to Twitter to let people know that he appreciates everyone’s support and forgives the letter writer, citing the bible verse Colossians 3:13.

He also wrote, “Although the message was indeed rude, ignorant and judging, I’ve taken no personal offense to it because personally, I must respect you as a person before I respect your opinion.” Kyle Robinson, an HU first-year business major from Chicago, thinks that forgiveness was the best way to deal with this situation.

“It’s easier to forgive than forget, his statement was [biased], but everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” Robinson said.


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