Dr. Seuss has not aged well. The late Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, was born 117 years ago this Tuesday. And her March 2 birthday has become synonymous with Reading Day across America, which encourages children to embrace books and foster a love of reading.
But the 2021 celebration is shaping up to look a little different, and not just because COVID-19 has millions of children learning remotely. It‘s because Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the entertainment company that manages the late writer’s estate, has decided to stop publishing six of Geisel’s books that feature racist and insensitive imagery. They include: “And to think I saw him on Mulberry Street”, “If I ran the zoo”, “McElligot’s pool”, “At Beyond Zebra!”, “Super scrambled eggs!” And “The Cat‘s Quizzer”. Dr. Seuss Enterprises explained in a statement released Tuesday that its mission is to support all children and families with “messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion and friendship.” And after working with a panel of experts, which included educators, he decided to stop licensing and publishing those particular titles. “These books portray people in hurtful and mean ways,” the company said. However, these books are already finding a second life on the resale market, with some of these titles listed as “banned” Dr. Seuss books selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay EBAY, -1.39% on Tuesday. A copy of “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” sold for $ 1,500. Another version listed as “collectible” was also offered for $ 999.99 on Amazon AMZN, -0.57%. The problematic images, which were pointed out in a 2019 study published in the journal “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature,” include a Japanese character referred to as “a Japanese” in “The Cat‘s Quizzer” drawn with a yellow face. bright and standing on what appears to be Mount Fuji. In “If I Managed a Zoo,” a white man says that he is going to exhibit a colored person in a turban at his zoo. In fact, the researchers flipped through 50 Dr. Seuss books and found that 43 of the 45 colored characters had “characteristics aligned with the definition of Orientalism.” What’s more, the two “African” characters drawn in these books displayed anti-black characteristics, often with men of color portrayed in “servile, exotic or dehumanized roles,” according to the report. Between that news and some places that took Read Across America Day away from the author who helped inspire it, concern that Dr. Seuss was being “canceled” started trending on Twitter TWTR, down -3.95% on Tuesday, as some people would not accept, could not accept. the beloved author is sidelined in any way, including this conservative commenter: But the situation is far more nuanced than many 280-character tweets can convey. First, some outlets have reported that, unlike former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, President Biden did not mention Dr. Seuss in his presidential proclamation for “Read Across America Day.” However, it should be noted that Biden did not mention any individual authors in his proclamation. “For countless Americans, the path to literacy begins with story time in the school classroom,” he wrote in a statement that widely encouraged reading. Last week, reports also emerged that Virginia‘s Loudoun County Public Schools had banned Dr. Seuss’s books. But the school district clarified in a statement Feb. 27 that Dr. Seuss’s books are still available in its libraries and classrooms, and students are free to check out. The school had simply decided to distance Read Across America Day from Dr. Seuss’s birthday due to “strong racial nuances” in some of the books he wrote and illustrated. And in fact, the National Education Association began years ago advising educators to focus more on diversity during Read Across America and away from making reading day synonymous with Dr. Seuss. “It is critical that all students are represented in popular culture,” said the NEA president in 2018, when the organization had author Jesse Holland read an excerpt from his novel “Black Panther” to kick off the happy days. book parties. It remains to be seen what he’ll do with those six Dr. Seuss titles for the rhyming writer’s brand. But the late author’s estate is not suffering at the moment: He managed to raise $ 33 million in 2020 thanks to screen adaptations such as “Green Eggs and Ham” for Netflix NFLX, + 0.15% and a Warner Bros. of three films. offering featuring characters from “The Cat in the Hat” as well as the world of “Oh, the places you’ll go!” In fact, Dr. Seuss is Forbes’ second highest-paid dead celebrity behind Michael Jackson, another case of a late popular artist whose catalog is clouded by serious allegations against the person who created it. In fact, Dr. Seuss Enterprises pulling on some of Geisel’s most offensive works while continuing to promote iconic titles like “Green Eggs and Ham” is just the latest example of a popular property facing renewed scrutiny amid our continued recognition of race and representation. For example, Disney DIS, -0.29% movies like “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan”, which children have grown up watching for decades, have also been criticized for portraying racist stereotypes. Therefore, Disney + has added disclaimers to these and some of its other classic movies on its streaming service, warning that they “may contain outdated cultural representations.”