April 17, 2021

Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts

Many were stunned by the Seuss estate’s decision, however, which was announced on Tuesday to coincide with Dr. Seuss’s birthday. In a statement, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it decided to discontinue those six titles last year, after consulting a panel of experts, including educators, to review its catalog.

Geisel, who died in 1991, is best known for whimsical picture books like “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat,” as well as works with ethical and moral imperatives to treat others with kindness and care for the planet, like “Horton Hears a Who!” and “The Lorax.”

Scholars have long noted racism in his wartime political cartoons, which he later offered a halfhearted apology for, saying they were the result of “snap judgments that every political cartoonist has to make.” Others have noted anti-Semitic and Islamophobic overtones in the comics and advertisements he wrote before and during his career as a children’s book author.

Scrutiny of his picture books has started to gain momentum more recently. In his 2017 book titled “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books,” Mr. Nel, the Kansas State University professor, made the case that the beloved character had roots in blackface minstrelsy. In 2019, an academic journal dedicated to the study of diversity in children’s literature published “The Cat Is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books,” a paper examining racism and bias in Dr. Seuss’s books.

The authors, Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens, argued that much of Dr. Seuss’s work exhibited racism or bias against Black, Asian, Mexican, Native American and Jewish people, as well as women and other groups. “Minimizing, erasing or not acknowledging Seuss’ racial transgressions across his entire publishing career deny the very real historical impact they had on people of color and the way that they continue to influence culture, education, and children’s views of people of color,” they wrote.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/books/dr-seuss-books.html

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