Penn State alum sends letter to football player

#3
In terms of humanity, I would hope at least Franklin would make a statement pertaining to this letter.
 
#4
Austin
How is somebody’s hair the tipping point to make you write this letter?

You don’t look the way i want you too.

How freaking entitled.

Edit: And in addition, dreads are actually really cool.
 
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#10
Little Rock, Arkansas
I see a lot of people calling this racist on the net but I don’t think it goes that far. I know that we don’t see dreadlocks on many white guys, and that it’s predominantly a hairstyle worn by the black community, so I get how people are connecting the two.

But I think this guy is truly just an old “get-off-my-lawn” stick in the mud who probably also complained when white guys started playing football with long hair.

He is basically the true to life Grandpa Abe from the Simpsons and we should all make fun of him for that.

But to declare him racist? I’d need to actually see racist comments first. (I mean, he might actually BE a horrible racist, but let’s not jump to that conclusion because he likes crew cuts)
 
#11
Baja Ontario
I see a lot of people calling this racist on the net but I don’t think it goes that far. I know that we don’t see dreadlocks on many white guys, and that it’s predominantly a hairstyle worn by the black community, so I get how people are connecting the two.

But I think this guy is truly just an old “get-off-my-lawn” stick in the mud who probably also complained when white guys started playing football with long hair.

He is basically the true to life Grandpa Abe from the Simpsons and we should all make fun of him for that.

But to declare him racist? I’d need to actually see racist comments first. (I mean, he might actually BE a horrible racist, but let’s not jump to that conclusion because he likes crew cuts)
I saw nothing in his unsolicted, rude, and needless written statement that indicated any reason to be cautious of his sensitivities.
 
#12
I have to admit (as an older bearded man), it bothers me when people mention Lovie's beard in a similar way. Like it has something to do with how he can coach or something. I don't understand people.
 
#13
I see a lot of people calling this racist on the net but I don’t think it goes that far. I know that we don’t see dreadlocks on many white guys, and that it’s predominantly a hairstyle worn by the black community, so I get how people are connecting the two.
At best, it's extremely tone-deaf and "unintended dog-whistle racism", but this is pretty clear cut to me. Needing explicit comparison of races and derogatory language as the criteria misses the bigger picture of the implication. His words target one culture much more than another to conform to a certain norm.
 
#14
My face when I found out this came from the Penn State fan base.

😐
I said this at the time, but this is just another example of why if I were Nike after the Sandusky mess came to light I would have never shipped another plain blue jersey to Penn State again.

The visual identity of that program is inextricably tied up with a poisonous culture. With the idea that things don't have to change. At that football program maybe more so than just about anywhere else, things need to change.
 
#15
At best, it's extremely tone-deaf and "unintended dog-whistle racism", but this is pretty clear cut to me. Needing explicit comparison of races and derogatory language as the criteria misses the bigger picture of the implication. His words target one culture much more than another to conform to a certain norm.
Very well said.
 
#16
Woodridge, IL
A comment on the Reddit thread summed up my thoughts pretty well.

“That generation uses casual racism, for lack of a better term, and oftentimes don't understand why it's inappropriate. This is not an excuse to do so, or to let them off without criticism, but it's important to note that it exists.

I've got older family members that will drop slurs about blacks, hispanics, whites, etc. and will break bread with them, play sports with them, have them at their house, have sex with them, marry them, etc. But that casual racism is still something they do on a regular basis.

They don't view themselves as racist, and their actions would suggest they aren't much of the time. But their words are racist and their words have racist undertones that are impactful to people nonetheless.”
 
#17
Little Rock, Arkansas
At best, it's extremely tone-deaf and "unintended dog-whistle racism", but this is pretty clear cut to me. Needing explicit comparison of races and derogatory language as the criteria misses the bigger picture of the implication. His words target one culture much more than another to conform to a certain norm.
I can get behind the idea that he is targeting one culture over another (the hair issue/not so much his hate for tats) but on my scale of “when something is racist” it didn’t meet it. Each person’s scale is different I suppose. Maybe it’s because I have a direct family member who fits Drew’s description above that allows me to see that it may not always be so clear cut and to not jump right to calling someone a racist.
 
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Likes: Ramrod2010
#18
Always Illini
Central Illinois
It is very convenient for white people to declare this not "racist enough" to be really racist but DrewD007 is correct that there are many people who have an ingrained offensive way of speaking and acting that is not consistent with their ordinary racist remarks. Maybe we need to look at the label of "racist" not for what the person meant but how their words and actions impacted another human being. Empathy requires us to look at it that way and if our language hurts others then it is properly called out as racist. JMHO. Besides that, just put Penn State out of our misery and close the place down.
 
#19
I can get behind the idea that he is targeting one culture over another (the hair issue/not so much his hate for tats) but on my scale of “when something is racist” it didn’t meet it.
We agree that he is targeting one culture over another for the hair style, but then he repeatedly calls it disgusting so I fail to see how that doesn't meet the criteria of racist.
I apologize if this comes off as combative, but deeming this incident as 'not racist' isn't going to change how the targeted culture perceives it. All gate-keeping does is make us feel better. A person doesn't have to intend a statement to be racist in order for it to be racist, but an apology and a willingness to learn/start a dialogue can go a long way.
 
#20
Take the R word out of this for a second, and think about reading this from the perspective of Jonathan Sutherland, the player to whom it was sent, who is an honors student and team captain.

The message is loud and clear. The institution you pour your blood sweat and tears into belongs to us, it does not belong to people who have cultural signifiers associated with you and people like you, and you will only be truly accepted into this institution with our permission, exclusively on our terms.

The stuff about the NFL drops the mask even further. Sutherland isn't some big surefire draft prospect, but because of his "disgusting" hair he's shown that that's where he belongs.

It ain't subtle.
 
#21
Oswego, IL
Take the R word out of this for a second, and think about reading this from the perspective of Jonathan Sutherland, the player to whom it was sent, who is an honors student and team captain.

The message is loud and clear. The institution you pour your blood sweat and tears into belongs to us, it does not belong to people who have cultural signifiers associated with you and people like you, and you will only be truly accepted into this institution with our permission, exclusively on our terms.

The stuff about the NFL drops the mask even further. Sutherland isn't some big surefire draft prospect, but because of his "disgusting" hair he's shown that that's where he belongs.

It ain't subtle.
Very well put.
 
Likes: KevinC
#24
st petersburg, fl
I'm about to go on a limb here and probably going to get bashed incessantly about this. But that's OK, because I think it's an important conversation to have. Apologies in advance for the rant/preach-like nature of this.

I don't know what the writer's motives were in writing this letter. Some of you seem to have more confidence than I do, so it might be an issue with me. What I do know, however, is the world view I've formed with my life experience. With regards to this situation, that world view comes down to a simple notion - there's a difference....a big difference....between being a racist and being racially insensitive (and I would broaden that out to be being a culturist (is that a word?) and culturally insensitive (happy to discuss how this world view of mine was formed if anyone's interested, but won't get into details now). A key component of that difference is how one - as a receiver or viewer of either a racist and/or racially insensitive situation - reacts to that situation.
  • Racist = admonish
  • Racially Insensitive = Educate. Don't admonish
  • In both cases - hold the person accountable
Again, I don't know where the writer of this letter falls ultimately. That's because, in my opinion, there's enough doubt in how it's written to say it could be either (again, some of you seem to disagree with me on this). However, it seems in our cultural, political, and overall societal climate today, there's less room for a middle ground anymore (dare I say without inadvertently making it sound insensitive/racist because I'm not referring to only racism in this context - everything seems to be black and white. There's no grey area). Racially insensitive comments often fall in that grey area. As @Hoppy2105 alluded to, there may just be misunderstanding of the notion of what the cultural relevance of what the writer is referring to and not overt racism.

So what do we do when things potentially fall into that grey area? This is where the crux of my argument falls. Without having a good deal of confidence that this is a racist and not a racially insensitive situation, in my opinion, we're better of as a society of giving people the benefit of the doubt. That means not admonishing the person, not labeling them racist or even implying what they said as racist. Instead, educate the person. Assume the person just didn't understand the implication and show them what that implication is. IMO, we, as a society that wants to eradicate racism completely, our chances of achieving that goal are much higher by presuming some level of innocence in grey areas because if you label the person guilty of actual racism, and you respond with the resulting admonishment, that will turn off that person and all those that may fall into his realm watching this occur from ever actually being educated. This, in turn, will further this divide that already seems to be growing. Nonetheless, in either case, you do hold the person accountable, you just do so in a different way.

Rant complete.
 
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#25
en·a·bler /iˈnāblər,eˈnāblər/

noun
a person or thing that makes something possible.
"the people who run these workshops are crime enablers"

a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behavior in another.
"being an enabler to an addict does more harm than good"