Dr. Seuss is undoubtedly an influential figure in the public eye. With books such as One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, many children learn how to read and rhyme from his work. He even has cautionary tales such as The Lorax and The Grinch.
Our society values Dr. Seuss and his impact so much that he has his own day: March 2. However, the notable author of Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat had more than just rhymes in his children’s books.
Several of Dr. Seuss’ beloved stories contain racist and insensitive imagery and undertones.
And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street depicts an Asian man with slanted lines for eyes, bright yellow skin, a conical hat and chopsticks. He is labeled as “a Chinaman who eats with sticks.”
If I Ran the Zoo has an image of two bare-footed African men wearing grass skirts and hair tied above their heads. It also features caricatures of locals who “wear their eyes in a slant.”
Because these characters embody poor racial stereotypes, these stories, along with four other books, are being taken off the shelves and discontinued.
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” affirms the company.
Several other stories such as Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and Horton Hears a Who! will remain in circulation.
The following titles are discontinued: 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 Quizzer.
McElligot’s Pool features images of “Eskimo fish,” which is a derogatory term used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people.
On Beyond Zebra! includes a “Nazzim of Bazzim” riding a camel-like animal called the “Spazzim.”
Scrambled Eggs Super! has Inuit-looking figures in paddling boats in search of harvesting eggs from a “Grice.”
In The Cat’s Quizzer, there is an image of a yellow character wearing a conical hat with the caption “How old do you have to be to be a Japanese?”
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” states Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Shortly after the announcement of the cease in the publication of the 6 children’s books, several people took to the internet to discuss Dr. Seuss falling victim to “cancel culture.”
It became a viral topic on various social media platforms and quickly sparked heat among different political parties.
A Fox News article claims, “Biden erases Dr. Seuss from ‘Read Across America’ proclamation as progressives seek to cancel beloved author.”
However, Dr. Seuss is not being canceled. He is still celebrated for his contributions to children’s learning, but his books with racist imagery will no longer be published.
In today’s society, cancel culture is the act of exposing people for their problematic behavior. They are held accountable and “canceled” by society as a consequence of their actions.
Society did not cancel Dr. Seuss and his children’s books. Dr. Seuss’ own company decided to withdraw the publication of his books. They did so because it is what is morally right — not as a result of public pressure.
“It will cause people to re-evaluate the legacy of Dr. Seuss, and I think that’s a good thing,” states Philip Nel, an American scholar of children’s literature and author of the book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?
In his book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?, his research explains that The Cat in the Hat was “inspired by blackface performance, racist images in popular culture and actual African Americans.”
Before he was famous, Dr. Seuss drew an incredibly racist image for Judge magazine in 1929.
Titled Cross-Section of the World’s Most Prosperous Department Store, the image depicts caricatures of Black men for sale at a Los Angeles auction house. It includes a sign labeled with a racial slur to describe the people that are being sold.
Though we grew up with great adoration for Dr. Seuss, we cannot erase the blatant racism on display within his work.
Dr. Seuss was not canceled by the public. His company decided that racist content should not be allowed in children’s books.
While acknowledging his contributions to children’s learning, we must also recognize his wrongdoings and prevent his prejudiced views from spreading to children.