October 11, 2019

Jonathan Sutherland, a Penn State Football Player, Receives Letter from Fan Calling His Dreadlocks 'Awful' & 'Disgusting'

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A Penn State football player received a letter from one of their school's supporters calling his dreadlocks "awful" and "disgusting," prompting the athlete to send out an open letter himself. 

Penn State football player Jonathan Sutherland was surprised to receive a letter from one of their university's supporters, but his mood changed when it turned out it was to complain about his dreadlocks. 

While he felt insulted by the gesture, he made sure not to react negatively. 

"I must respect you as a person before I respect your opinion."

Jonathan Sutherland signing with Penn State | Source: Twitter / @jay_suth


Rising Above the Situation

Signed by Dave Petersen, a man who identifies as an "older" graduate of the school along with his wife, was allegedly upset by Sutherland's hair. He went on to say that athletes nowadays look nothing like the ones from when they were in college. 

"Though the athletes of today are certainly superior to those in my days; we miss the clean cut young men and women from those days. Watching the Idaho game on TV we couldn't help but notice your - well - awful hair. Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room!"

Jonathan Sutherland with his coach Erik Nowell | Source: Twitter / @FST_CoachNowell


A Problem with Dreadlocks

The man named Petersen did not stop there, and proceeded to insult the athlete by asking whether or not he has someone taking care of him, as his shoulder-length dreadlocks are "disgusting."

"Don't you have parents or girlfriend who've told you those shoulder-length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive?"


To end his letter, he congratulated Sutherland on the victory against the University of Pittsburgh, but reminded him that he "represents all Penn Staters both current and those alumni from years past," adding that maybe the university should bring back the "dress code."

Pettersen's anger over dreadlocks did not end with just Sutherland, as he even stated that he and his wife stopped watching the NFL due to "the disgusting tattoos, awful hair, and immature antics in the end zone."


Sutherland's Response

Although this could have easily gotten Sutherland angry, he decided to respond with kindness and respect. 

"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. At the end of the day, without an apology needed, I forget this individual because I'm nowhere close to being perfect and I expect God to forgive me for all the wrong I've done in my life."

He ends his message by saying 2019 should be the year that discrimination against cultures, religions, and ethnicities stops.