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censored, banned, burned by governments or mobs...   ...vs discontinued by the author / author's estate   Evidently the Seuss estate *did* want to "make a huge public statement

This story is a perfect illustration of the "outrage culture" fomented by talk radio and social media. So a minor story noting that the company founded by Seuss's family will no longer reprint a few b

I do love Dr Seuss, but when you know better, you do better. Times have changed and it is appropriate to retire offensive stereotypes. 

33 minutes ago, NorthwestMom said:

I do love Dr Seuss, but when you know better, you do better. Times have changed and it is appropriate to retire offensive stereotypes. 

This.
It’s not a hard or scary concept. 

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There was a time when people recognized that book banning and book burning was something to revolt against. I have never been in favor of Dr Seuss. But many of the books were written to be readers and I have found them to serve that purpose well. It would have been better, when pulling those books, to do it quietly (books are pulled all the time) to just say they were dated rather than making a huge public statement over it. 

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17 minutes ago, Janeway said:

There was a time when people recognized that book banning and book burning was something to revolt against. I have never been in favor of Dr Seuss. But many of the books were written to be readers and I have found them to serve that purpose well. It would have been better, when pulling those books, to do it quietly (books are pulled all the time) to just say they were dated rather than making a huge public statement over it. 

They aren't being banned or burned.

 

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censored, banned, burned by governments or mobs...

21 minutes ago, Janeway said:

There was a time when people recognized that book banning and book burning was something to revolt against. I have never been in favor of Dr Seuss. But many of the books were written to be readers and I have found them to serve that purpose well. It would have been better, when pulling those books, to do it quietly (books are pulled all the time) to just say they were dated rather than making a huge public statement over it. 

 

...vs discontinued by the author / author's estate

2 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

They aren't being banned or burned.

 

 

Evidently the Seuss estate *did* want to "make a huge public statement over it."  The statement they evidently wanted to make was something like

Quote

When we know better, we do better.

Which is a wonderful and evergreen and valuable lesson.  Seuss continues to teach us.

 

 

 

[from a forever fan, despite the uneveness]

 

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23 minutes ago, Janeway said:

do it quietly (books are pulled all the time) to just say they were dated rather than making a huge public statement over it. 

How would this actually be better? 

I tend to think that showing where the problem lies is educational, and gives people a chance to reflect and consider how the images could be problematic. But that's my point of view, and I'm interested in yours.

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Wouldn't this be a wonderful opportunity for some curriculum providers who have one of these books in their packages to replace Seuss' book with a book with more diverse characters?  I'm thinking of providers who don't have many diverse characters in their curriculum. 

Edited by rainbird2
Trying to explain myself better...
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55 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

They aren't being banned or burned.

 

The article specifically said some school districts are banning them. 

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Is there a problem with the writing or just the pictures? Seems like an easy fix either way. It’s not like Seuss is that complex.

Couldn’t they insert a lesson with context at the end of the book?

Why stop publishing them completely? What does that accomplish? 

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The 6 books they are discontinuing aren't particularly popular anyway.  I have never heard of most of them.

I wish the headlines were a little more objective.

Dr. Seuss actually wrote some progressive ideas into some of his books - ideas that I believe actually took hold.

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We were discussing this news as a family last night.  Of the six books that will no longer be published, I've only ever seen one IRL (Mulberry Street.)  None of them are amongst his most popular works. 

The news prompted us to do a bit of a google to see what the issues are.  Which led to this interesting blog post that posits that some of Seuss's most popular works (Cat in the Hat, Horton, and The Sneetches) are also racist.  WRT Horton and the Sneetches, I saw the blogger's point immediately.  But her Cat in the Hat argument contains information that was new to me - that the TCITH contains racist tropes I wasn't aware of (I am not American, and I am white.  I'm learning every day).  Anyway, this blog has provoked much thought and discussion at your  our house https://www.pragmaticmom.com/2017/05/examining-dr-seuss-racism/

Edited to correct:  Our house.  No idea about anyone else's house!

Edited by wathe
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1 hour ago, Janeway said:

There was a time when people recognized that book banning and book burning was something to revolt against. I have never been in favor of Dr Seuss. But many of the books were written to be readers and I have found them to serve that purpose well. It would have been better, when pulling those books, to do it quietly (books are pulled all the time) to just say they were dated rather than making a huge public statement over it. 

Why? 

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Let's take these headlines with a grain of salt. These aren't Seuss' best work, and other than Mulberry Street they aren't very well known, and I doubt any of them have been big sellers in the past 20+ years.

The Seuss estate decided to stop printing six poor sellers, and to get a little PR out of it by saying that it's due to the offensive imagery. It's not like the imagery isn't there, but if they thought that there was more money in it, they would've simply had the books edited slightly and then issued that press release instead.

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7 minutes ago, Plum said:

 

Why stop publishing them completely? What does that accomplish? 

Well, if I had put out something into the world that I later realized did not represent me, or my values, why would I KEEP publishing that thing? I mean, if I have a facebook post I later regret I take it down, same idea. Not wanting to perpetuate and profit off of something they regret makes total sense. 

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Also, are schools "banning" them or removing them from reading lists since they will be out of print? It is normal to replace out of print books with something else when it comes to reading lists, curricula, etc. 

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11 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Hmmm. Ok.  Because the estate is taking them out of print?  

No, before this happened. They probably pulled the problem titles because school districts are issuing blanket bans. 

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1 minute ago, ktgrok said:

Well, if I had put out something into the world that I later realized did not represent me, or my values, why would I KEEP publishing that thing? I mean, if I have a facebook post I later regret I take it down, same idea. Not wanting to perpetuate and profit off of something they regret makes total sense. 

Did you read the first part of my post? I was suggesting editing it to update and remove the offending parts. 

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Quoted from the same blog post I linked to above:

Critical Analysis of Race in 50 Children’s Books by Dr. Seuss

  • Of the 2240 human characters, there are 45 characters of color, representing 2% of the total number of human characters.
  • Of the 45 characters of color, all 45 (100%) are depicted in a racist manner.
  • Every single character of color is portrayed through at least 3, and sometimes all 5, of the following themes:
    • Subservience: “Useful in an inferior capacity: subordinate: submissive”
    • Dehumanization: “To deprive of human qualities, personality, spirit / to treat someone as though he or she is not human”
    • Exotification: “portrayed as originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country / very different / “other””
    • Stereotypes: “a standardized mental picture that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment / to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same”
    • Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics”
  • Of the 2 “African” characters:
    • Both are depicted as monkeys (in the same likeness that Seuss depicted Africans and African Americans in his racist political cartoons).
    • Both are depicted in a subservient role, carrying an animal to a white male child’s zoo.
  • Of the 14 “Asian” characters:
    • Eleven of the 14 “Asian” characters are wearing stereotypical, conical “rice paddy hats”.
    • The three (and only) “Asian” characters who are not seen wearing “rice paddy hats”, are carrying an animal in a large cage on top of their heads. There is a white male child holding a gun, standing on top of the animal cage that is being balanced on top of their heads.
    • Twelve of the 14 “Asian” characters are featured in subservient roles, hunting down or carrying exotic animals for a white male child. They are described by Dr. Seuss in the text as “helpers that all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell”.
  • Of the 29 characters wearing turbans:
    • Fifteen are riding exotic animals, including camels, elephants and zebras, and four are playing exotic instruments.
    • Seventeen of the “turban-wearing” characters are in a subservient role, “fetching” something for the white male child; driving a cart full of white males; or, carrying something for a white male child.
    • One of the “turban-wearing” characters is referenced as being suitable to bring back, along with the exotic animals, to be on display in the white male child’s zoo. In the book, If I Ran the Zoo, Seuss’s text reads “A Mulligatawny is fine for my zoo And so is a chieftain (referring to the turban-wearing man), I’ll bring one back too”. There is a notable history of white people putting people of color on display in zoos (see David, 2013).
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14 minutes ago, Plum said:

Is there a problem with the writing or just the pictures? Seems like an easy fix either way. It’s not like Seuss is that complex.

Couldn’t they insert a lesson with context at the end of the book?

Why stop publishing them completely? What does that accomplish? 

I think it's both.

Some of the books might be fixable.  Others, racism or exoticism is woven into the story line.

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I like most Dr. Seuss books, but I was uncomfortable the last time I read Mulberry Street to a class and realized that it did have Inappropriate illustrations. At that point, I stopped reading that one in a school setting. I don’t think that is the same as banning or burning a book. Copies are still out there for adults to choose to read. I do not think those kinds of books should be read in a classroom situation where someone could infer that those representations are acceptable. 

I do think those books could be used when teaching a lesson about racism.

Disney stopped producing the movie Song of the South many years ago due to the rasist representations. I don’t see any problem with that.

By the way, I do own a copy of Mulberry Street if anyone is looking to buy one. (Just joking)

Edited by City Mouse
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23 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Let's take these headlines with a grain of salt. These aren't Seuss' best work, and other than Mulberry Street they aren't very well known, and I doubt any of them have been big sellers in the past 20+ years.

The Seuss estate decided to stop printing six poor sellers, and to get a little PR out of it by saying that it's due to the offensive imagery. It's not like the imagery isn't there, but if they thought that there was more money in it, they would've simply had the books edited slightly and then issued that press release instead.

I think this is right on the money.  It's an easy win for the Seuss estate.

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29 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

Let's take these headlines with a grain of salt. These aren't Seuss' best work, and other than Mulberry Street they aren't very well known, and I doubt any of them have been big sellers in the past 20+ years.

The Seuss estate decided to stop printing six poor sellers, and to get a little PR out of it by saying that it's due to the offensive imagery. It's not like the imagery isn't there, but if they thought that there was more money in it, they would've simply had the books edited slightly and then issued that press release instead.

Well they are big sellers now.  Sold out and $1000 on Amazon.  Just kind of funny. 

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6 minutes ago, wathe said:

Quoted from the same blog post I linked to above:

Critical Analysis of Race in 50 Children’s Books by Dr. Seuss

  • Of the 2240 human characters, there are 45 characters of color, representing 2% of the total number of human characters.
  • Of the 45 characters of color, all 45 (100%) are depicted in a racist manner.
  • Every single character of color is portrayed through at least 3, and sometimes all 5, of the following themes:
    • Subservience: “Useful in an inferior capacity: subordinate: submissive”
    • Dehumanization: “To deprive of human qualities, personality, spirit / to treat someone as though he or she is not human”
    • Exotification: “portrayed as originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country / very different / “other””
    • Stereotypes: “a standardized mental picture that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment / to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same”
    • Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics”
  • Of the 2 “African” characters:
    • Both are depicted as monkeys (in the same likeness that Seuss depicted Africans and African Americans in his racist political cartoons).
    • Both are depicted in a subservient role, carrying an animal to a white male child’s zoo.
  • Of the 14 “Asian” characters:
    • Eleven of the 14 “Asian” characters are wearing stereotypical, conical “rice paddy hats”.
    • The three (and only) “Asian” characters who are not seen wearing “rice paddy hats”, are carrying an animal in a large cage on top of their heads. There is a white male child holding a gun, standing on top of the animal cage that is being balanced on top of their heads.
    • Twelve of the 14 “Asian” characters are featured in subservient roles, hunting down or carrying exotic animals for a white male child. They are described by Dr. Seuss in the text as “helpers that all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell”.
  • Of the 29 characters wearing turbans:
    • Fifteen are riding exotic animals, including camels, elephants and zebras, and four are playing exotic instruments.
    • Seventeen of the “turban-wearing” characters are in a subservient role, “fetching” something for the white male child; driving a cart full of white males; or, carrying something for a white male child.
    • One of the “turban-wearing” characters is referenced as being suitable to bring back, along with the exotic animals, to be on display in the white male child’s zoo. In the book, If I Ran the Zoo, Seuss’s text reads “A Mulligatawny is fine for my zoo And so is a chieftain (referring to the turban-wearing man), I’ll bring one back too”. There is a notable history of white people putting people of color on display in zoos (see David, 2013).

I looked around for examples of offending images by my beloved Dr Seuss, and unfortunately many are rather regrettable--and especially the "African" images.

I do think that one of the above standards for deeming an image racially offensive, namely Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics,” is a pretty high bar to clear given all Dr Seuss's art involves caricature.

So not only would all the 45 characters of color (100%) be deemed caricatures, but the same would apply to all the beings, trees, houses, and environs in Dr Seuss books.

That quibble aside, some of these Dr Seuss books do rely on negative stereotypes. No denying that.

Bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, Katy said:

The article specifically said some school districts are banning them. 

I think you may have misread the article. It says that some school districts have "moved away from Dr. Seuss, prompting Loudoun County, Virginia, schools just outside Washington, D.C., to douse rumors last month that they were banning the books entirely."  If you click the link to the story about Loudoun County, they say "Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools."

 

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3 minutes ago, City Mouse said:

I like most Dr. Seuss books, but I was uncomfortable the last time I read Mulberry Street to a class and realized that it did have I appropriate illustrations. At that point, I stopped reading that one in a school setting. I don’t think that is the same as banning or burning a book. Copies are still out there for adults to choose to read. I do not think those kinds of books should be read in a classroom situation where someone could infer that those representations are acceptable. 

I do think those books could be used when teaching a lesson about racism.

Disney stopped producing the movie Song of the South many years ago due to the rasist representations. I don’t see any problem with that.

By the way, I do own a copy of Mulberry Street if anyone is looking to buy one. (Just joking)

I also own Mulberry Street (in the Six by Seuss hardcover compilation).  I haven't read it in at least ten years, and I knew exactly which illustration they were talking about from memory - it bothered my then, and has stuck in my mind.  I didn't read it to my Asian kids.  

Yertle the Turtle, on the other hand, we practically wore out. 

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3 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

I looked around for examples of offending images by my beloved Dr Seuss, and unfortunately many are rather regrettable--and especially the "African" images.

I do think that one of the above standards for deeming an image racially offensive, namely Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics,” is a pretty high bar to clear given all Dr Seuss's art involves caricature.

So not only would all the 45 characters of color (100%) be deemed caricatures, but the same would apply to all the beings, trees, houses, and environs in Dr Seuss books.

That quibble aside, some of these Dr Seuss books do rely on negative stereotypes. No denying that.

Bill

 

Indeed.  It's the caricaturing of stereotypes that causes the trouble, I think.

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47 minutes ago, Plum said:

Is there a problem with the writing or just the pictures? Seems like an easy fix either way. It’s not like Seuss is that complex.

Couldn’t they insert a lesson with context at the end of the book?

Why stop publishing them completely? What does that accomplish? 

There are issues with both the writing and illustrations. How many children who grab a book off the library shelf are going to read "a lesson with context at the end of the book"? Why should we keep reprinting books that depict "Africans" like this?

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 4.56.11 PM.png

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6 minutes ago, wathe said:

Indeed.  It's the caricaturing of stereotypes that causes the trouble, I think.

Right. But the analysis seems to point to caricature as a theme for determining if an illustration is racially insensitive that is distinct from stereotyping (not to say they don't recognize an image can be both stereotypical and a caricature, as they surely do). 

I know it seems like hair-splitting, but we adopt a standard that all caricatures are inherently racist then we'd wipe out a vast genre of cartoon work. 

Bill

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, MercyA said:

That's great! 

Maybe it's sacrilege to say so, but I've never been a fan of Dr. Seuss books. There are so many better alternatives. 

I was never a fan either. Thankfully neither was dh so we never bothered to read them to ds. My younger brother loved Green Eggs and Ham and with my mother almost always working at bedtime I was the one who always had to read it to him over and over and over. I love-hate that book now 😄 

I never heard of these particular books but it seems to me like a win-win for the Seuss estate/foundation. And a win for children who look like the people being depicted in these books. And a win for white children to not see such depictions of people who look different. Seems to me like a win for everyone. 

Edited by Lady Florida.
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Bill, it seems like hairsplitting because it is. You know perfectly well that nobody has adopted that standard - they're only discussing racist caricatures where the racism is part and parcel of the whole thing.

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Redo the images, republish. 

Or put a sticker on the books as happened with TinTin in the Congo. Buyer information is good. 

I'm honestly not a great Suess fan but I'm also not a great 'lets make books from the past unavailable' fan.

Still, I guess there will be second-hand copies floating around forever. 

 

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1 hour ago, Corraleno said:

I think you may have misread the article. It says that some school districts have "moved away from Dr. Seuss, prompting Loudoun County, Virginia, schools just outside Washington, D.C., to douse rumors last month that they were banning the books entirely."  If you click the link to the story about Loudoun County, they say "Dr. Seuss books have not been banned and are available to students in our libraries and classrooms, however, Dr. Seuss and his books are no longer the emphasis of Read Across America Day in Loudoun County Public Schools."

 

Yes, I wish people wouldn't use the word "ban" when discussing books that are removed from the curriculum or even the library. No school district has the power to actually "ban" a book anyway. What would that mean? That if a child reads the book, he/she is expelled from school? The word "ban" is used intentionally to stir things up. 

I read once how the guy who used to run Fox News (I can't remember his name right now - he died a few years ago) said that their formula included amplifying crazy, obscure things that happened on college campuses. 

This is the same thing. It seems like every few months, there's some article targeting things like this and #DisruptTexts. The articles almost always mischaracterize what is happening. Then there's a furor on Twitter and my homeschooling FB groups, e.g. "I can't believe they're banning Shakespeare now!" 

18 minutes ago, Melissa in Australia said:

I think the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.

I think the whole world needs to chill out and stop being so serious

 

Glad I have such a vast dr Seuss collection. 

 

Would you think this was "absolutely ridiculous" if the offensive pictures were of people like you? 

This reminds me of a discussion on a homeschooling FB group. It started with one of the articles I describe above ("They're banning Shakespeare!"). Then a few days later, someone asked for a book recommendation about children who belong to their religious group. Everyone agreed that it was great to find books about children who are like their own children. Talk about cognitive dissonance. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Redo the images, republish. 

Or put a sticker on the books as happened with TinTin in the Congo. Buyer information is good. 

I'm honestly not a great Suess fan but I'm also not a great 'lets make books from the past unavailable' fan.

Still, I guess there will be second-hand copies floating around forever. 

 

Do you know how many books from the past are unavailable? Why is this any different? Most of the books that are published go out of print and disappear. Not every book stands the test of time. 

 

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Just now, Ordinary Shoes said:

Do you know how many books from the past are unavailable? Why is this any different? Most of the books that are published go out of print and disappear. Not every book stands the test of time. 

 

Why yes, I do! I believe my own is now OOP 🙂 I think I have a thorough handle on that concept.

I happen to feel that there are alternate ways of dealing with books that are still in print. 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Why yes, I do! I believe my own is now OOP 🙂 I think I have a thorough handle on that concept.

I happen to feel that there are alternate ways of dealing with books that are still in print. 

 

 

I think, though I am not certain about this, that the issue is that Dr. Seuss's estate itself has decided to stop publishing it.  Which seems like the right thing to do, to me?  I mean, we own several of these books, and they are really problematic.  I don't think this necessarily means that Dr. Seuss was the devil or anything; he was, like all of us, a product of his time.  

I'm sure there will be second hand copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street around for a long time to come. 

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1 minute ago, Terabith said:

I think, though I am not certain about this, that the issue is that Dr. Seuss's estate itself has decided to stop publishing it.  Which seems like the right thing to do, to me?  I mean, we own several of these books, and they are really problematic.  I don't think this necessarily means that Dr. Seuss was the devil or anything; he was, like all of us, a product of his time.  

I'm sure there will be second hand copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street around for a long time to come. 

Since it's his estate, it's like the author decided to stop publishing them. Doesn't an author have that right? 

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13 minutes ago, Terabith said:

I think, though I am not certain about this, that the issue is that Dr. Seuss's estate itself has decided to stop publishing it.  Which seems like the right thing to do, to me?  I mean, we own several of these books, and they are really problematic.  I don't think this necessarily means that Dr. Seuss was the devil or anything; he was, like all of us, a product of his time.  

I'm sure there will be second hand copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street around for a long time to come. 

Yes, they decided this after having a review board look at the titles:

Quote

To that end, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, working with a panel of experts, including educators, reviewed our catalog of titles and made the decision last year to cease publication and licensing of the following titles:  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.  These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

https://www.seussville.com/statement-from-dr-seuss-enterprises/

(Bolding is mine.)

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This story is a perfect illustration of the "outrage culture" fomented by talk radio and social media. So a minor story noting that the company founded by Seuss's family will no longer reprint a few books that most people have never heard of, gets blown up into "they're banning Dr Seuss!" And now people are paying inflated prices to buy up soon-to-be-OOP books that they've likely never read, and have no real interest in reading, because they saw a tweet or a FB post telling them that their right to read a book with racist stereotypes is being taken away from them!!! and they should be totally outraged about that!!! Apparently some people think that allowing the company that owns the rights to a book to decide not to continue publishing it is actually more offensive than depicting Black people as monkeys.

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3 hours ago, Plum said:

Couldn’t they insert a lesson with context at the end of the book?

Dr. Suess books are generally read to quite-young children. You can have a thoughtful discussion about the depiction of Native Americans in Little House on the Prairie with older elementary students, but I think providing context to littles about a Dr. Suess book is a tough go. 

It takes a gifted teacher with a small number of students, I think, and you know what? By the time you get to the lesson at the end of the book, minority students have already endured listening to their teachers read about, and their peers laugh uproariously at, the idea of putting an African chief in a zoo. Even if a teacher is completely sincere in presenting the lesson, I think it would have a nudge-nudge-wink-wink aura about it: read a book that presents this as funny, pausing for laughter, and then say, okay, that wasn't actually funny . . . 

2 hours ago, Spy Car said:

I looked around for examples of offending images by my beloved Dr Seuss, and unfortunately many are rather regrettable--and especially the "African" images.

I do think that one of the above standards for deeming an image racially offensive, namely Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics,” is a pretty high bar to clear given all Dr Seuss's art involves caricature.

So not only would all the 45 characters of color (100%) be deemed caricatures, but the same would apply to all the beings, trees, houses, and environs in Dr Seuss books.

That quibble aside, some of these Dr Seuss books do rely on negative stereotypes. No denying that.

Bill

I think this is 100% incorrect. The white children are depicted in the book in straightforward cartoon style, with no ludicrous distortion. 

I don't think we're supposed to copy/paste images, but each link has an example: 

White boy: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/new-priceless-dr-seuss-childrens-book-found-in-late-authors-home-260712

White children shown in header graphic and numbers 7 & 9: https://slurrpfarm.com/blogs/blog/10-story-books-for-kids-by-dr-seuss

These absolutely cannot be compared to the depictions of other races in the books. 

 

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40 minutes ago, Terabith said:

I think, though I am not certain about this, that the issue is that Dr. Seuss's estate itself has decided to stop publishing it.  Which seems like the right thing to do, to me?  I mean, we own several of these books, and they are really problematic.  I don't think this necessarily means that Dr. Seuss was the devil or anything; he was, like all of us, a product of his time.  

I'm sure there will be second hand copies of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street around for a long time to come. 

Yeah, I don't really care about the books per se, not a fan. In principle, I think that it is better to keep books in print (so long as there is an audience) and deal with contemporary sensitivities in the most availability-preserving way. If no-one wants to buy a book anymore, or there is no profit in a reprint, a book will naturally fall OOP. That's how it works. 

Of course, cynically, I think that possibly this is the estate taking books for which there is virtually no demand (5/6 poorly known, not widely read) and seeing some good PR in how they spin a choice to take them OOP. 

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As others have said, it boils down to who is doing the “banning.” I put that in quotes, because this is not an example of banning.

If Dr Seuss Enterprises was printing the books and selling them, and a 3rd party came along and said, “You are no longer allowed to print these books!” then that would be banning/censorship, etc and I would be against that, even if the books were offensive.

But when a company says, “We no longer want to make this product,” then...they have every right not to make that product. This is not banning or censorship. This is a company saying, “We don’t agree with this product and we’re not going to keep making it.”  That’s capitalism. And it’s also ethics. You get to make and sell whatever you want to make and sell.  No one tells you what to make.

 

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I did not grow up with Dr. Seuss, but I grew up with Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Tin Tin, Asterix, Rudyard Kipling and American books like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn. Pretty much everything has racism associated with it. The thing is when you grow up where the primary language you read in is English, you get to read books like these. And love them. TinTin especially taught my brother to love reading.  

My feelings on these books and Tintin in particular are described better by these articles.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/06/tintin/485501/
https://www.bbc.com/news/15680397

Enid Blyton is still my favorite children's author heck even author period knowing what I know of her not just her books. But the books she wrote made me love reading, I have so many memories associated with them. It showed me a completely different world from mine of boarding schools, camping. It made me imagine and open up my world.

I have spent my adulthood looking for books about people that look like me and the bulk of my reading is that now. But my comfort reads are still Mallory Towers, Famous Five, Matilda, Asterix, Tintin especially this year because they take me to a simpler time in my life.  These are the books I dragged with me across continents when I moved with two suitcases to the US with what is important to me. They were and are that important to me. 

These books are still published in my country of origin, still enjoyed. I still read TintIn, Asterix and currently reading them to my kids and improving my French by reading Asterix in French. We talk about them, but I will still read them and read them to my kids.

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29 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

This story is a perfect illustration of the "outrage culture" fomented by talk radio and social media. So a minor story noting that the company founded by Seuss's family will no longer reprint a few books that most people have never heard of, gets blown up into "they're banning Dr Seuss!" And now people are paying inflated prices to buy up soon-to-be-OOP books that they've likely never read, and have no real interest in reading, because they saw a tweet or a FB post telling them that their right to read a book with racist stereotypes is being taken away from them!!! and they should be totally outraged about that!!! Apparently some people think that allowing the company that owns the rights to a book to decide not to continue publishing it is actually more offensive than depicting Black people as monkeys.

This is exactly right. I've followed #DisruptTexts on Twitter for about a year. All of the recent articles about #DisruptTexts mischaracterize it. Whenever there is a negative article about #DisruptTexts, there are always nasty tweets directed towards those teachers. Sometimes the tweets are racist. People deliberately ignore their attempts to explain themselves. It's all so dishonest and calculated. 

 

 

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Nobody is going to storm into your house, rip the books off your shelves and burn them. No one is going to forbid book sellers from selling them or even libraries (as a general category) from having them on their shelves. Individual school districts, libraries etc will make choices, as they already are doing, as to what to include and promote. 
 

It’s absurd to say that the publisher HAS to continue to publish books that they have decided to stop publishing. 

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35 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

some people think that allowing the company that owns the rights to a book to decide not to continue publishing it is actually more offensive than depicting Black people as monkeys.

This sums it up perfectly. 

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19 minutes ago, katilac said:

 

Dr. Suess books are generally read to quite-young children. You can have a thoughtful discussion about the depiction of Native Americans in Little House on the Prairie with older elementary students, but I think providing context to littles about a Dr. Suess book is a tough go. 

It takes a gifted teacher with a small number of students, I think, and you know what? By the time you get to the lesson at the end of the book, minority students have already endured listening to their teachers read about, and their peers laugh uproariously at, the idea of putting an African chief in a zoo. Even if a teacher is completely sincere in presenting the lesson, I think it would have a nudge-nudge-wink-wink aura about it: read a book that presents this as funny, pausing for laughter, and then say, okay, that wasn't actually funny . . . 

I think this is 100% incorrect. The white children are depicted in the book in straightforward cartoon style, with no ludicrous distortion. 

I don't think we're supposed to copy/paste images, but each link has an example: 

White boy: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/new-priceless-dr-seuss-childrens-book-found-in-late-authors-home-260712

White children shown in header graphic and numbers 7 & 9: https://slurrpfarm.com/blogs/blog/10-story-books-for-kids-by-dr-seuss

These absolutely cannot be compared to the depictions of other races in the books. 

 

Can't be compared to the offensive stereotypes of especially Africans and also Asians and Middle Eastern types, but all Dr. Seuss's work involves caricatures as far as I can see it. When caricatures embody negative stereotypes where these  images become problematic.

If all caricatures are ipso facto deemed to be racist, then say goodbye to all cartoon style artwork. 

I think the images under discussion by Dr Seuss are highly problematic and are examples of blatant racial stereotyping. No question. His estate has made the right move IMO.

Bill

 

 

 

 

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