Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced it will no longer publish six books that were written by the celebrated children’s author because they portray racially insensitive images of characters. The statement was released on Tuesday, March 2, coinciding with the birthday of the deceased author and illustrator.
The books being pulled off the shelves 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. Per the statement, the company said they arrived at the decision to cease publishing the said books after reviewing their catalog with a team of experts – including educators.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the company explained. “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.”
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Though the popular author, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, passed away in 1991, his books remain children’s favorite books and more than 650 million copies have been sold globally, according to The Washington Post. They have also been translated into over 15 languages. The author was also ranked by Forbes as the second-highest-paid dead celebrity in 2020, raking in a pre-tax revenue of $33 million.
Despite his success and admiration, researchers have highlighted how some of his works and illustrations bear racist and anti-semitic connotations, CNN reported. When he was a student at Dartmouth College, one of his illustrations depicted Black boxers as gorillas while another depicted Jewish characters as stingy, a 2019 study that was published in a journal titled “Research on Diversity in Youth Literature” reportedly revealed.
After scrutinizing 50 Dr. Seuss books, the study also stated 43 out of the 45 non-White characters had been depicted in a manner “aligning with the definition of Orientalism.” The term refers to the “representation of Asia in a stereotyped way.” The study further stated: “Only two of the forty-five characters are identified in the text as ‘African’ and both align with the theme of anti-Blackness.”
The authors were also of the view that “white supremacy is seen throughout” Dr. Seuss’s books as White characters are heavily featured in the stories, according to the New York Post. Besides the children’s books, the study also highlighted his other works, saying they were much worse.
“Before and during his career publishing children’s books, Dr. Seuss also published hundreds of racist political cartoons, comics, and advertisements for newspapers, magazines, companies, and the United States government,” the study wrote.