A man in South Dakota has been forced to apologize after sharing his Halloween costume on social media, showing him in blackface and holding a sign that reads “Will stand for money.”

The man identified himself on social media as Cole Paulson, a student at South Dakota State, The Argus Leader reported. The school did not confirm to the paper that he is enrolled there.

The picture showed him in blackface and a black wig, kneeling while holding a sign that read” “Will stand for money” – a reference to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest a variety issues, including police brutality. 

The Twitter post prompted swift condemnation on social media.

Paulson defend himself on Twitter insisting that the costume’s intentions “were not racist whatsoever” and suggested shaming him on social media is not the best way to “make a difference.”

“(I) didn’t know (blackface) was a big issue until someone sent me an article about it. I’ll agree I was (ignorant) to the fact I was being racist,” he wrote on Twitter, according to the paper.

He has since deleted the tweet and offered his apology, saying he feels “terrible” for wearing the blackface and insisted that he harbors no racist views. “I will be completely honest and tell you I was ignorant to the fact as to painting my face like that was racist,” he told the newspaper.

He added: “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 claimed they are aware of the photo and the school’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Access “has reached out to the individual,” adding that “Some dialogue has been started, but beyond that, I don’t have any information to the extent (of what has been said).”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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