Wesley College is a small private school in Dover, Delaware that is run by the Methodist church. The school, like the church that runs it and the state where it is located, is rarely the source of controversy. But that all changed recently when the school’s student-run newspaper, The Whetstone, published two cartoons that many are angry about.
In one of the cartoons, a dark-skinned woman wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt is looking at her watch and saying “Would you look at the time? I’m late for my abortion.” The second cartoon features a black man and a garden hoe. The hoe says,”Who is you calling a HOE?” The man replies,”I’m sorry, ma’am, you just look like a hoe.”
I just feel like it’s inappropriate, and it kind of offends me. I know that we have student events where students that aren’t minorities feel let out and discriminated again and then something like this is just not OK to me.
One commenter tried to explain the first cartoon by saying it was designed to bring out the irony of a woman wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt who was having an abortion. Student Williams Johnson says that Muse is being condescending to other black students, “Saying that we don’t understand everything that we stand behind. And so I do feel that he shouldn’t have put that out.”
As for the second cartoon? Muse seems to be saying that if a man thinks that a woman looks like a “hoe” then it’s ok to call her one. “Slut shaming.”
Editorial cartoons should make you laugh and also make you think about an issue. Both of these cartoons fail in their attempt to do either of those things. But they have brought race to the forefront at a school that was already dealing with racial issues. Brandon Smith, another black Wesley student who also works at The Whetstone, wrote an editorial recently about the racial divide at the school. He didn’t exactly criticize Muse but he didn’t defend him either:
I think I know what kind of message he is sending. But, it’s like his opinion. And you know, The Whetstone is about voicing your opinions and how you feel.
College officials are saying that they intend to use this as a learning experience for students, that while you have freedom of speech you need to be aware of and prepared for the consequences that speech may bring. Wesley’s communication and marketing director Jessica Cook told WBOC:
We believe this open dialogue is the most constructive way to address such challenging and controversial issues on campus. In doing so, out students learn first-hand both how to exercise their own freedom of speech, the impact they may have on others, and that they must take responsibility for the ideas and opinions they express when they exercise that right.
Is it legitimate for Bryheim Muse to comment on these issues in this insensitive way, because he is black? Other black students at Wesley seem to be saying “absolutely not.”
Here’s a report from WBOC:
WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 –