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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Six Dr. Seuss books discontinued for racial discrimination

WED. | 03-31-21 | OPINION

     Over the course of the month of March, some childhood favorite books written by the award winning author Theodor Seuss Giesel otherwise known as Dr. Seuss have been taken off the shelves due to racist caricature. Six different timeless childhood classics have been removed from the publications print list: “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.” This removal is a continuation of the so-called “cancel culture” movement that has become prevalent in the past few months and is changing logos, mascots and other symbols of racial injustice. 

     Before you can hold an opinion on this situation, you have to break down the facts. Dr. Seuss' books 

are the most recent to receive changes, along with Land-O Lakes butter, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, Mr. Potato Head and many others. On the Dr. Seuss social media accounts and on the publication website on Tuesday, Mar. 2, which is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises posted that they would stop publication of these six books because they contained images and language that “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” They stated it was a goal of Dr. Seuss Enterprises to represent and support all. 

     After reading this on social media, I was curious to find out exactly what these images and caricatures were in the six books that would cause publication to cease. In “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”, an Asian man is shown holding a bowl of rice and using chopsticks, and was yellow in the original copies of the book. This was the worst from what I was able to find, but another harmful caricature appears in “If I Ran the Zoo” with African-Americans being portrayed shirtless, shoeless, and holding an exotic animal. Now, although these obviously come off as racist caricatures to Seuss’ family who decided to remove them, I believe that they are very open to interpretation because of how vague the humanistic features on them are. I, believe that there has been a tad bit of national overreaction from Dr. Seuss Enterprises as well as others around the globe, and could have been handled differently.

     Large corporations such as Ebay, an online auction site, have removed the six books that Dr. Seuss Enterprises have cancelled publication of. Those who oppose this ceasing of publication sure have shown it through their purchases on Amazon, as numbers have recently sky rocketed. 15 out of the 20 best selling books on Amazon in early March of 2021 were all written and published by Dr. Seuss. Prices have been increasing at an insanely fast level for the books as well. For a copy of “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” on Ebay it is currently about $150, with an original 1937 copy costing you about $4400 on the site. 

     I think what is the most irking of all for these publication ceasings is that people are trying to change the past. These books were all written at a time when imagery like this was acceptable. Although it is not accepted today, if we cannot learn to accept the past for what it was without trying to ultimately change it, the future generations will never understand how to grow from losses. I believe that the Dr. Seuss Enterprises should have handled these books differently. What I would have done is taken a similar route as Disney by adding a message at the beginning of older films that they may contain harmful content, but it is ultimately up to them under free enterprise what they do with their publications. 

     From my personal experience, the hatred behind the “If I Ran the Zoo” book is a bit much. When I first was looking for these images, it took me some time to realize what I was even looking for, as I had scrolled over the images thinking these “African-Americans” were just another group of Dr. Seuss’ crazy fictional characters, until I focused closely on the image. But, with the target audience of these books being children, this is where I believe the overreaction occurs. 

     If I were young and reading these different books, aimlessly wandering what it would be like to live inside Dr. Seuss’ books, it never would occur to me that Dr. Seuss was purposefully trying to throw shade at another race. It is more obvious in “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” but I can still attest that as children we would not have the mental capacity to draw racist conclusions from the works of Dr. Seuss. Although I understand the fuel behind the publication cease for these books, and why the publication company would go through with this, in this day and age I agree it was probably the best thing they could do, but I do not agree with the way it was carried out. It is upsetting to hear that children's classics will no longer be printed or sold because adults made the decision that it could affect children and how they view different races moving forward. 

     All in all, the recent publication ceasing from Dr. Seuss Enterprises falls into the danger of “cancel culture” we have experienced these last nine months. “Cancel Culture” is the social media wave that has taken over in the last year and a half, with companies, celebrities, and others being “cancelled” online due to dug up comments that are offending to some groups of people. “Cancel Culture” is seen by many as a threat to American freedom. According to a study done by Harvard CAPS-Harris, 64% of Americans view it as a threat to society and themselves. 

     Harris Faulker of Fox News puts my stance on “cancel culture” and the recent Dr. Seuss Enterprises publication ceases into best terms by stating, “You wonder why in this country we can’t have a real conversation about what justice and race and all of those things look like, how you can do it by loving police officers and loving people of color at the same time. You wonder why we can’t, because we can’t even handle a Dr. Seuss book that might offend us...I can literally rant on this forever.”

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