Penn State Football Player With Dreadlocks Receives Letter From ‘Older’ Graduate Who Says His Hair Is ‘Awful’

Campus view of Penn State University at University Park, State College, Pennsylvania, USA

Penn State Football Player With Dreadlocks Receives Letter From ‘Older’ Graduate Who Says His Hair Is ‘Awful’

Policing Black hair and Black bodies continues.

Published October 8th

Written by Jarod Hector

C.J. Holmes, a sophomore safety on the Penn State University football team, posted a picture of a letter on Twitter allegedly received by one of his teammates. 

The letter contained racially charged language, prejudiced rhetoric and described Holmes’ teammate’s hair (dreadlocks) as "awful." 

The letter is addressed to “Jonathan” and is sent by a man who describes himself as an "older" graduate of Penn State. 

The only Jonathan on the Penn State football roster is sophomore safety Jonathan Sutherland. A young Black man with dreadlocks.

This comes at a time when the policing of Black people’s hair, body and overall presence is seemingly at an all-time high. 

The letter, signed by someone named Dave Petersen, reeks of respectability politics and much of the sentiment associated with a particular demographic of college football fans. 

“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! Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive,” the letter read.

“You will certainly be playing ‘on Sunday’ in the future but we have stopped watching the NFL due to the disgusting, tattoos, awful hair and immature antics in the end zone. Players should act as though they’ve ‘been there before.’”

The source or authenticity of this letter has not been verified, but Penn State did issue a short statement via its official Twitter account:

“While we don’t know the source of this letter or the authenticity, obviously its content does not align with our values. We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance.”

(Photo: aimintang)


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NOVEMBER 3, 2020