BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man has apologized after his racially insensitive Halloween costume caused a backlash on social media.
A photo shared on Twitter on Friday showed a white man in blackface and a black wig, kneeling and holding a sign that says, "Will stand for money," an apparent reference to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans. The tweet has since been deleted.
The man pictured identifies himself on Twitter and Facebook as South Dakota State University student Cole Paulson, though the school said he isn't currently enrolled and couldn't immediately confirm whether he previously attended the school, the Argus Leader reported .
Paulson apologized, telling the newspaper that feels "terrible" for wearing blackface while insisting that he had no racist intentions.
"I will be completely honest and tell you I was ignorant to the fact as to painting my face like that was racist," he said. "It was in no way my intention to offend the African-American community, and I have read many articles and documents since to educate myself on why it was wrong of me to do what I did. ... I was contacted almost immediately about how it was wrong and proceeded to wash it off before I went anywhere. I wholeheartedly apologize as I feel horrible about my ignorance and offending many people I respect."
South Dakota State spokesman Mike Lockrem said the school was made aware of the photo Saturday morning and that the school's Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Access "has reached out to the individual."
"Some dialogue has been started, but beyond that, I don't have any information to the extent (of what has been said)."