About two weeks ago, a comic was made with the intent of criticizing an aspect of the Sphinx Club. It’s important to preface that I understand the criticism that the cartoon was pointing out and why it was done, but I also know from first hand experience that this criticism is slowly becoming outdated given the direction in which the Sphinx Club is going. Although, I believe that the individual who drew this cartoon meant to only promote said criticism, the execution of this criticism was poorly planned and instead left a cartoon that propagated a message that goes beyond its original intent.
What this cartoon is conveying is a message that discredits minority Sphinx Club members by stating that minority students in the club only got in because of the color of their skin and not because of the countless accomplishments that makes them great students and leaders. As I said, I understand that this wasn’t the intended message of the cartoon but when I first saw this cartoon it made me feel that, as a Sphinx Club member, I was only able to become a member of the club because I was a brown Hispanic man. It made me feel that all of my hard work as a student and as an active member of the Wabash community, didn’t matter and that the only thing that defined me as a great campus leader was the color of my skin. This isn’t a singular feeling, as there were other Sphinx Club members and Rhynes that, unfortunately, felt discredited and simplified down to their race at the “expense of a good laugh”.
Yet, what really worries me about this cartoon is not the inadvertent message that it showed, but that everyone involved in the process of creating and placing this cartoon in the Bachelor failed to realize the inadvertent message of the cartoon in the first place, or worse, that they understood and approved of the message. It worries me that the “Student Voice of Wabash College” has the possibility to continue unknowingly propagating messages that undermine and discredit minority student’s hard work and accomplishments to nothing more than and only possible, because of their race. As someone who has experienced racial discrimination at Wabash, this incident has resurfaced my concern of not feeling safe or comfortable with my identity. I know I’m not the only one, and I know this feeling isn’t exclusive to just members of the Sphinx Club. Thus, this puts in question if the “Student Voice of Wabash College” will continue inadvertently promoting messages of condescending hate without really thinking of the effect it will have on minority students on this campus.
I’m well aware that there are divisive opinions on this cartoon and not everyone will agree with me, even minority students. However, as a Wabash brother I feel the obligation to confront The Bachelor and inform the Wabash community, who may not understand why this cartoon can be offensive to some, why this cartoon was offensive. I hope and ask that, in the future, the Bachelor thinks further about the approaches they take when attempting to make a criticism and whether or not it will come at the expense of others.