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‘These Books Portray People In Ways That Are Hurtful and Wrong’: Six Dr. Seuss Books to Stop Being Published Because of Racist Imagery

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced it will stop publishing six books by its beloved namesake author and illustrator due to their racist and insensitive images, The Associated Press was first to report.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the company told AP in a statement Tuesday, March 2, which is also Dr. Seuss’ birthday. “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.”

The books which will cease publication include: “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.”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 02: Books by Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, including “On Beyond Zebra!” and “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Among the images in question are images of two barefoot African men wearing grass skirts in “If I Ran The Zoo;” as well as an Asian man in a cone-shaped hat holding chopsticks and eating from a bowl in “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”

The company, which was founded by the family of the children’s book author, said it made the decision after months of discussions with a variety of its audience members.

“Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process. We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles,” the company said.

Criticism of racist undertones in Dr. Seuss’ work has been building for years. The National Education Association did not renew it’s contract with Dr. Seuss Enterprises when it ended in 2018. The organization said the move was an effort to highlight more diverse authors when celebrating Read Across America Day, which encourages children across the country to read.

According to USA Today, a 2019 study on 50 of Dr. Seuss’ books and 2,200 characters also revealed: “Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are forty-five characters of color representing 2% of the total number of human characters.” Of that number the study authors said the characters of color were embedded with stereotypes and anti-Blackness.

“Notably, every character of color is male. Males of color are only presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,” the study authors, Katie Ishizuka and Ramón Stephens, wrote. “This also remains true in their relation to white characters. Most startling is the complete invisibility and absence of women and girls of color across Seuss’ entire children’s book collection.”

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, Seuss is one of the most popular authors to have ever lived. His books grossed over $33 million in 2020 and he was listed at the second-highest earning dead celebrity last year after Michael Jackson. 

Dr. Seuss’ publisher, Random House Children Books, said it was aware of the decision and respected it. “We respect the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) and the work of the panel that reviewed this content last year, and their recommendation,” the company said in a statement.

People were divided on the subject on social media. “This is the kind of s—t that has to stop. I’m a liberal. Stop this. I’m all for cancelling and holding trumpklan accountable. But Dr Suess?” @9liberal tweeted.

“While I understand and agree as a Democrat that the cancelling has gotten crazy, in this instance – there’s some reeeeally s—ty representations of asians in his books, as well as I think other minority groups – I mean, maybe change the illustrations or parts that are s—ty?” @geekdadvs rebutted.

“Good point. W.A.P. is totally fine, but Dr. Seuss must be cancelled. What a broken and morally depraved culture we live in. Which material would you rather your kids be exposed to?” political analyst Erielle Davidson tweeted.

“THEY decided to stop publishing ‘On their own!’ They were not canceled. THEY decided the racism was not what THEY wanted,” added @GriffeyVincent.

Another user posted an image of a cartoon bearing Dr. Seuss’ signature depicting Black people being sold. The image hasn’t been verified as Suess’ actual work, but he did draw cartoons and other works aside from his books.

“Yeah…It’s understandable why some schools are omitting Dr Seuss because of stuff like this…And, this wasn’t his only offensive drawing. He was born in 1904 and passed in 1991. There were woke people even back in the 1920’s and 30’s who would have been offended by this s—t,” wrote @LadySideshow.
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