Should We Cancel Dr. Seuss for Racism?
In 2001, skeptics slammed “woke” culture after Dr. Seuss Enterprises declared that it would no more produce six of the famed author’s books owing to racist and offensive images.
Liberals were accused of “canceling” the famous children’s novelist, who has sold over 650 million books globally. However, the corporation owned by Dr. Seuss’s family was the corporation owned by Dr. Seuss’s family that chose to discontinue publishing the six books as they “depict humans in harsh and inappropriate ways.”
‘Irresponsible and disrespectful’
The rejected publications contain horrible racist caricatures of Black community members, Asians, and Arabs in their repulsive pictures.
A cartoon of the residents of an African colony in “If I Ran the Zoo,” one of six Dr. Seuss books removed from release by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. (YouTube/Punk Rock Preschool)
“He frequently perceives regional, cultural, or race-based diversity as far-flung, interesting, or hilarious,” says Philip Nel, a renowned lecturer of English at Kansas State University and the author of “Dr. Seuss: American Icon.”
“By emphasizing someone’s exoticism or alienation as a source of humor, you are informing people that regional, cultural, or racial difference may be the punch line, which is terrible if you are a part of the community that is the butt of the joke.”
“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quiz” are among the titles that have been rejected.
Dr. Seuss, named Theodor Seuss Geisel, passed away in 1991. He employed humorous, repetitive text, an anti-authoritarian attitude, and colorful, often bizarre, drawings to help educate millions of youngsters to read throughout a busy career that lasted years and generated hundreds of books.
“Dr. Seuss is one of the prominent figures in American children’s literature,” adds Nel, who also runs the children’s fiction program at Kansas State University. “It is believed that one out of every four youngsters receives a Dr. Seuss book as their initial book.” So, you know, he’s a literary powerhouse in American children’s literature.”
Racist tropes in the writer’s intentions are not new charges. After some writers declined to attend the exhibit in protest, the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Geisel’s hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, pulled out a painting. A Chinese figure with squinty eyes, chopsticks, and a pointy cap was featured in the painting.
“The librarians have understood about this for a while and have been talking about it for years,” says Jason Homer, executive head of the Worcester Public Library, next to the museum.
Dr. Seuss’s books, according to Homer, are not especially famous in his libraries. Just one of them, “The Cat in the Hat,” was one of the top 100 children’s books taken out last year. Two of the prohibited books have been out of print for years at the library, but the available ones will continue being on the display cases.
“Attempting to remove these books because individuals may object goes contrary to everything we strive for as a city library.” We intend to supply materials. “It is our responsibility to enlighten, enrich, and inform our community,” Homer explains. “And we can still have those informative dialogs, even with these images that may or may not be deleterious to how we create ideas about other cultures.” We did not, however, erase the books.
Illustrations depicting governmental issues
Geisel’s racial symbolism is seen outside his well-known children’s novels. During WWII, he produced political caricatures with negative preconceptions of Japanese Americans that called their loyalty into doubt.
Historian Richard Minear, author of “Dr. Seuss Goes to War,” believes Geisel was a paradox in that he shunned stereotyping Europeans while promoting anti-racism ideas.
“He supports Black-white race relations.” Minear is strongly opposed to anti-Semitism. “His portrayals of Japan and the Japanese are his one blind spot.” Perhaps due to his lack of history, his drawings soon became a stereotypical Japanese persona that is unpleasant at best and racist at worst.”
There is an indication that Geisel came to repent his initial portrayals of non-white individuals. Later works by him, such as “Horton Hears a Who!” and “The Sneeches and Other Stories,” teach acceptance and inclusiveness.
Even after his divided reputation, Dr. Seuss should be remembered as a creator and poet, according to Nel.
“Just because someone is famous or brilliant doesn’t imply he’s above criticism. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a result of a racist culture, which molded his creativity in ways that cause harm in his novels and pictures that harm others,” he argues. “And that’s fine. That’s a good way to interact with any art.”
Mulberry Street will now see fewer visitors. While these six books end the story, hundreds of other famous Dr. Seuss books exist in circulation for succeeding generations of youngsters to explore.
“How many 1940s and 1950s writers are we still talking about today?” Minear explains. “How could someone who is so right on so many matters be so wrong here?” In that respect, I believe it is better to “delete culture” or whatever the appropriate expression is.