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If an artist wants to take a machete to their most famous painting, that's okay with me too. If their heirs want to do it, or if the person who owns their best piece wants to lock it away in a vault and never let the public see it, or toss it in the Mariana Trench, that's also okay.

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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. 

2 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Books to me are art. So who does art belong to once it comes in the public domain. I absolutely have no clue about the legal side of it, but it enters the realm of ethics for me. 

Do we as the reading public get a say in which existing books are published further if the publisher or an author decides to not do so ?

I see similarities in the discussion about who does English belong to ? Can people who were colonized by the British truly claim English as theirs ? Does a person of non-English descent lay claim to Shakespeare, Jane Austen when their primary reading language from a child was English, they were schooled in English yet they are not English ? 

 

I agree. While I totally understand the desire to be able to take back things that one regrets, writers sometimes regret great works of literature. If Tolstoy had had his way, we might not have "Anna Karenina" or "War and Peace," as he was ashamed of them in the later part of his life.

And I believe that the English language, classical European arts, etc, belong to anyone who wants to lay claim to them. There is an essay by the poet Marilyn Nelson about the dilemma of writing in classic verse forms as a black woman. It's called "Owning the Masters." I don't expect everyone to agree with this view or to want to lay claim to these cultural artifacts, but they are there for the taking, for engagement, for reinterpretation, for those who want to engage in these ways.

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1 hour ago, Murphy101 said:

I don’t own the zoo book bc I didn’t like those portrayals either. 

In Mulberry, Idk about the clothing issues. Is there something insulting about the Japanese clothing of it had said Japanese man instead of Chinese? Is there something insulting about differently shaped eyes? Again. I’m not being sarcastic. I genuinely do not know.    I do know that many Asians of affluence in Asian countries like South Korea get cosmetic surgery to “fix” their eyes to look more Caucasian-shaped so I guess for whatever sad reason they obviously think their natural eye shape is undesirable. 

eta: so I just got off the phone with my son and his friends who were telling me calling them “people with slanted eyes” is a racist term not because they do not have slanted eyes, but because it dates back to world war days when that characteristic is what determined who got put in camps. Just like the N word isn’t racist because it’s a color but bc of the attitude it references.  Idk know that.  I mean I knew asians were put in camps but not that that phrase was like white people saying the n word to POC.  Now I do. 
 

eta2 as for educational experience. Idk. Otoh I’m not out to hurt little kids. Otoh, when should lighter shaded classmates learn why these things are racist and insulting? Personally, I will read this book to my kids on more time and explain that the reason the estate of Dr Seuss is no longer going to publish it is bc of these things that *I* just learned today. They are ages 4, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 18. I do not think any of them will have difficulty understanding my explanation. 

Funnily enough, my oldest just came in to the kitchen (dinner!) and had some relevant thoughts. She first asked, “February is black history month, right?” (Which makes sense if you understand that we don’t treat any month as black history month in this house, black history is American history.) When I confirmed that it was, she said her English teacher is giving them extra credit for reading/discussing Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. I asked her how she felt about that. She explained that she was excited b/c she enjoyed the work and would love to talk about it but quickly pivoted to say that she’s noticed that works that appeal to her are usually only covered in February. She said she’s waiting to see how the rest of the term goes and what else is read before drawing any conclusions. Whatever my own thoughts, and I always keep them to myself and allow my kids to draw their own conclusions, it’s interesting to watch my oldest (my youngest has always been wise beyond his years) absorb the culture. She comes to me with these little ‘revelations’ regularly.

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And to expand on the most recent posts about art being part of everyone's heritage - similar arguments have been made regarding the destruction / erasure of historical monuments, etc. that are evidence of "how things used to be."  Elements of our past that we are not proud of.  Some people think that erasing the past, erasing a truth we aren't proud of, will also prevent important lessons from being learned.  Others apparently believe that evidence of past wrongs extends those past wrongs into the present / compounds past injuries.  I think the truth is somewhere in between.  We should preserve the sad truth, accept it for what it is, but not glorify it.

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19 minutes ago, wathe said:

"slant eyes"  and "slanted eyes" are slurs in my part of the world.

1) East Asian people objectively do not have "slanted" eyes - their eyes are not at an angle or crooked.  They are as straight on their faces as anyone else's.   Many East Asians have a distinctive fold of skin (epicanthic fold) that partially covers their upper eyelid.  (Not all East Asians have this feature, and plenty of non-asians  do have it). 

2) Slant vs straight has moral implications with slant = crooked, corrupt,  vs straight = morally straight and upstanding.

 

And lest anyone think the "slanty eyed" trope is nothing but a relic of a bygone era, this just happened a few days ago — a high school teacher in a zoom class mocked Asians, making her eyes "slant" up and down while saying "if your eyes go up you're Chinese, if they go down you're Japanese, if they go straight you don't know."  

 

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5 minutes ago, SKL said:

And to expand on the most recent posts about art being part of everyone's heritage - similar arguments have been made regarding the destruction / erasure of historical monuments, etc. that are evidence of "how things used to be."  Elements of our past that we are not proud of.  Some people think that erasing the past, erasing a truth we aren't proud of, will also prevent important lessons from being learned.  Others apparently believe that evidence of past wrongs extends those past wrongs into the present / compounds past injuries.  I think the truth is somewhere in between.  We should preserve the sad truth, accept it for what it is, but not glorify it.

Yeah, no, not the same. Preservation doesn’t require prominent displays in city centers and public squares. It equally applies to objects in museums and archives. In one case, they are preserved for future study. In the other, they remain glorified in public life.

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1 minute ago, Sneezyone said:

Yeah, no, not the same. Preservation doesn’t require prominent displays in city centers and public squares. It equally applies to objects in museums and archives. In one case, they are preserved for future study. In the other, they remain glorified in public life.

I agree they should not be in locations where they are effectively glorified.  But they should be kept intact (where possible) in a place where their status is neutral.

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6 minutes ago, SKL said:

I agree they should not be in locations where they are effectively glorified.  But they should be kept intact (where possible) in a place where their status is neutral.

Unfortunately, it's the removal from the public square people are upset about. They're not interested in how they're being preserved or relocated to museums and confederate cemeteries. There's nothing neutral about confederate iconography.

Edited by Sneezyone
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50 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Lol, in my opinion, writers enter, through the act of publishing, into a moral contract with their readership, one that is violated by the act of removing their own work from circulation. The reader is not a mere 'consumer'; the reader co-creates the text.

That's just my opinion as a writer and a reader. I understand you disagree with my opinion.

Hmmm. As a writer and a reader, I have to disagree. Just sayin. 

Edited by Seasider too
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51 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

Lol, in my opinion, writers enter, through the act of publishing, into a moral contract with their readership, one that is violated by the act of removing their own work from circulation. The reader is not a mere 'consumer'; the reader co-creates the text.

That's just my opinion as a writer and a reader. I understand you disagree with my opinion. OK. I'm not sure what else there is to discuss. I 100% back your right to disagree and believe differently. No problem. It's all ok. One random woman's (my) beliefs about art don't really require changing. I just see things my way. 

 

 

 

 

A moral contract by simply publishing a piece of work?  That seems like quite a burden for anyone who likes writing and wants to share it.

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4 minutes ago, hjffkj said:

A moral contract by simply publishing a piece of work?  That seems like quite a burden for anyone who likes writing and wants to share it.

Nevertheless, that's what I believe about literature!

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55 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

And lest anyone think the "slanty eyed" trope is nothing but a relic of a bygone era, this just happened a few days ago — a high school teacher in a zoom class mocked Asians, making her eyes "slant" up and down while saying "if your eyes go up you're Chinese, if they go down you're Japanese, if they go straight you don't know."  

 

I'm speechless.

Bill

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1 hour ago, wathe said:

"slant eyes"  and "slanted eyes" are slurs in my part of the world.

1) East Asian people objectively do not have "slanted" eyes - their eyes are not at an angle or crooked.  They are as straight on their faces as anyone else's.   Many East Asians have a distinctive fold of skin (epicanthic fold) that partially covers their upper eyelid.  (Not all East Asians have this feature, and plenty of non-asians  do have it). 

2) Slant vs straight has moral implications with slant = crooked, corrupt,  vs straight = morally straight and upstanding.

 

Ah. See I would not think slanted meant any of those things. Just like describing the Caucasian eyes as wide and round wouldn’t mean superior to me.  Okay. Good to understand. Thank you. 

I have also read/heard eyes described as “almond-shaped” is that also considered insulting? In MY mind whenever I heard or read “slanted”- almond-shaped is what I thought they meant. 

1 hour ago, Corraleno said:

And lest anyone think the "slanty eyed" trope is nothing but a relic of a bygone era, this just happened a few days ago — a high school teacher in a zoom class mocked Asians, making her eyes "slant" up and down while saying "if your eyes go up you're Chinese, if they go down you're Japanese, if they go straight you don't know."  

 

What the hell. Even not knowing the slanted-eyes reference info I got today, I would have thought that was awful. Is she talking about the old elementary school rhyme of Japanese, Chinese, look at these? I remember that from elementary school but I would never have taught it to my kids. If I mentioned it at all, it would be as an example of things that are wrong to do.

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8 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

Side topic. I own this book and it’s a family favorite. I pulled it out just now bc I’m not seeing racism in it. The whole book is cartoon, but I’m not seeing anything like Africans as monkeys in it. It looks.. culturally diverse to me?  I’m not reading it and hearing subservient or derogatory.  Some people ARE culturally different and do dress differently - is that racist to show that?  I’m not being at all snarky. Genuinely trying to figure it out on this particular book. 

 

I know I am a bit late to respond, but here it is anyway. I have worked in areas with high population of Asian and Asian American students. The depiction of Asians in this book is not something that I want to share with my students. They don’t need a teacher implying that such stereotypes are okay.

I do think that perhaps people living in less multi-cultural areas may not understand that such stereotypes are offensive when they do not have much exposure to people from those cultures. 
Edited to add- I was not trying to say anything about any specific person on this board. I was generalizing based on my experience today at a local school.

 

 

Edited by City Mouse
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I had an interesting experience today that relates to this discussion. 

Background: I currently live in a rural area that is predominantly white/Hispanic. There are almost no African American or Asian people in out entire county. I am a teacher certified in a rather rare and underserved portion of special education, and I contract with local school districts to work with specific students.  
 

Today I was visiting one of my students at a local elementary school the next town over. That school obviously did not know about or care about the Dr. Seuss controversy, or that Read Across America day was not identifying with Dr Seuss. The school hallways were decorated with images from Dr Seuss books (although none of the images used were questionable). In the classroom that I was visiting, the teacher had a stack of Dr Seuss books sitting out that she had gotten from the school library. Of the stack of around 10 Dr Seuss book, 3 or 4 of the titles were from the group of 6 that started all the controversy. This was a pre-school age classroom of students with disabilities.  Other than the school district in Virginia that made the news, I wonder how many schools are paying any attention to the controversy at all.

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4 minutes ago, City Mouse said:


 

Today I was visiting one of my students at a local elementary school the next town over. That school obviously did not know about or care about the Dr. Seuss controversy, or that Read Across America day was not identifying with Dr Seuss. The school hallways were decorated with images from Dr Seuss books (although none of the images used were questionable). In the classroom that I was visiting, the teacher had a stack of Dr Seuss books sitting out that she had gotten from the school library. Of the stack of around 10 Dr Seuss book, 3 or 4 of the titles were from the group of 6 that started all the controversy. This was a pre-school age classroom of students with disabilities.  Other than the school district in Virginia that made the news, I wonder how many schools are paying any attention to the controversy at all.

I'm in a conservative semi-rural area that is almost all white with no diversity.  At least two districts here celebrated Read Across America day with Dr. Seuss books (saw this on social media, but I didn't see any reference to the books that started the controversy).  Our public library also posted all about Dr. Seuss on their social media pages.

 

 

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Just now, City Mouse said:

I know I am a bit late to respond, but here it is anyway. I have worked in areas with high population of Asian and Asian American students. The depiction of Asians in this book is not something that I want to share with my students. They don’t need a teacher implying that such stereotypes are okay.

I do think that perhaps people living in less multi-cultural areas may not understand that such stereotypes are offensive when they do not have much exposure to people from those cultures.

Firstly - see my response to someone else up thread. 
 

Secondly - I wouldn’t say I have not had much exposure to other cultures. Not as much as some of course, but I’ve certainly worked with and been friends with people born in India, China, Japan, Mexico, Germany, other countries in South America, traveled to a couple islands and so forth.

I was just discussing with an American friend that is Japanese born to a Japanese mom and a Mexican dad today about this conversation.  I said one frustration I have had the last couple days in these types of discussions is that it seems very not okay to ask questions. The presumption being conveyed to me is that I’m a horrible racist person to ask these questions. Even when I clearly state I’m not being sarcastic and I’m perfectly willing to agree it is racist but I do not know WHY it is racist and I’m asking so that I can learn it.

If people refuse to discuss why something is racist because they are too angry or insulted - that’s understandable but not helpful. They may be calling someone racist who has no idea they just insulted someone. I wonder how much of the ignorance of cultures is a two way street. People who have no idea they are being insulting and people who hear it and just get silently angry instead of explaining.  If someone tells me hey that is super insulting - I’m happy to believe them and eager to know exactly what about it is insulting so that I can understand how to speak to them in a way that connects or at least is actually heard. 
 

 

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19 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

Firstly - see my response to someone else up thread. 
 

Secondly - I wouldn’t say I have not had much exposure to other cultures. Not as much as some of course, but I’ve certainly worked with and been friends with people born in India, China, Japan, Mexico, Germany, other countries in South America, traveled to a couple islands and so forth.

I was just discussing with an American friend that is Japanese born to a Japanese mom and a Mexican dad today about this conversation.  I said one frustration I have had the last couple days in these types of discussions is that it seems very not okay to ask questions. The presumption being conveyed to me is that I’m a horrible racist person to ask these questions. Even when I clearly state I’m not being sarcastic and I’m perfectly willing to agree it is racist but I do not know WHY it is racist and I’m asking so that I can learn it.

If people refuse to discuss why something is racist because they are too angry or insulted - that’s understandable but not helpful. They may be calling someone racist who has no idea they just insulted someone. I wonder how much of the ignorance of cultures is a two way street. People who have no idea they are being insulting and people who hear it and just get silently angry instead of explaining.  If someone tells me hey that is super insulting - I’m happy to believe them and eager to know exactly what about it is insulting so that I can understand how to speak to them in a way that connects or at least is actually heard. 
 

 

IME this board is a perfect place to ask those questions.  As an example, I was raised in rural Florida (it isn't very rural anymore).  I was taught all sorts of things about the confederate flag and confederate history, but that despite that being the real meaning, the flag was offensive to some people so displaying it in your home was acceptable, on your truck was NOT.   Then I came here and several people said that the confederate symbols weren't anything to do with history or pride, that was rewriting history that started in the 1920's.  So I went back and read the documents.  And they were right.  It had nothing to do with states rights and everything to do with slavery, it's right there in the words they wrote. I had to accept I was lied to my whole life.  People in my great grandparents generation decided to threaten a whole group of people with the same symbols they told their children and grandchildren were about history and pride. I just didn't know any better until someone here told me it was a lie.

Anything to do with stereotypes, or implying someone is lesser than because of a difference, or implying subservience to white colonial children is offensive.  Making fun of someone, putting on a costume or comedy skit where the material is the stereotype is offensive.  I still don't 100% understand how a disney princess costume is appropriation, but if someone is offended by it it isn't a kind choice whether I understand the why or not.

I don't believe in walking on eggshells around people, and I'm sure someone will be offended by me whatever I do, but choosing to treat people the way they want to be treated is usually right.

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8 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

Side topic. I own this book and it’s a family favorite. I pulled it out just now bc I’m not seeing racism in it. The whole book is cartoon, but I’m not seeing anything like Africans as monkeys in it. It looks.. culturally diverse to me?  I’m not reading it and hearing subservient or derogatory.  Some people ARE culturally different and do dress differently - is that racist to show that?  I’m not being at all snarky. Genuinely trying to figure it out on this particular book. 

If the decision comes from the estate, then I don’t care.

As for books in general - I’m a fan of reading them with PSAs. 

I was just telling Scarlet that one of our house favs is Honeybunny Funnybunny but it’s a horrible book about sibling abuse. Really. PJ Funnybunny would get a spanking in my house and I rarely spank. So when I read the story I narrate with PSAs. “Gasp of horror! Can you believe what he did?! Yeah I BET amok and dad were upset with him! How rude and mean!”  And “oh see now. This is what happens in abusive relationships. That poor bunny starts to actually think she isn’t loved unless she is being mistreated! How awful and sad. Mom and dad should have a good talking to PJ about how big boy bunnies are supposed to treat people, especially girls and family better. And to Honeybunny about how she is right to feel hurt and angry when treated I lovingly by someone who is supposed to care about her.”

My kids LOVE that book even with my PSAs. LOL

Responding to your first paragraph. Having grown up as a white person in Japan, I grew up with a lot of ignorant stereotypes of both the US and Japan. I grew up with Japanese friends literally thinking that especially if I went to the American West that I was stepping into a John Wayne movie complete with cattle rustlers and duels on the streets. If I was going to be in a city they imagined me in New York in something approximating West Side Story. The worst stereotype for me was that often Japanese men would expect me to have the same “sexual looseness” that they saw depicted in the movies of American girls of the 60’s and 70’s. Perhaps you can see how it could become tiresome to have to contradict those impressions especially if they result in you being sexualized, and propositioned even as a 12 year old. 
 

In the US (rural Michigan, if that matters ) I was called “Jap girl “. People thought that I wore kimonos and geta (wooden clogs) when I was back in Japan. I was definitely not accepted as a local. I wasn’t sexualized but I was less accepted as a friend. 
 

Times have changed though. We live in a much more global world where I honestly don’t expect that same kind of ignorance. I don’t mind cultural questions- even “tough” ones (like when I was a guest speaker in a Japanese high school and they asked about drug use) but I expect a certain amount of basic cultural literacy. 

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1 hour ago, City Mouse said:

I had an interesting experience today that relates to this discussion. 

Background: I currently live in a rural area that is predominantly white/Hispanic. There are almost no African American or Asian people in out entire county. I am a teacher certified in a rather rare and underserved portion of special education, and I contract with local school districts to work with specific students.  
 

Today I was visiting one of my students at a local elementary school the next town over. That school obviously did not know about or care about the Dr. Seuss controversy, or that Read Across America day was not identifying with Dr Seuss. The school hallways were decorated with images from Dr Seuss books (although none of the images used were questionable). In the classroom that I was visiting, the teacher had a stack of Dr Seuss books sitting out that she had gotten from the school library. Of the stack of around 10 Dr Seuss book, 3 or 4 of the titles were from the group of 6 that started all the controversy. This was a pre-school age classroom of students with disabilities.  Other than the school district in Virginia that made the news, I wonder how many schools are paying any attention to the controversy at all.

My friends who work or have kids in elementary schools have facebook posts full of happy kids wearing Seuss costumes and making Seuss crafts.

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1 hour ago, City Mouse said:

I know I am a bit late to respond, but here it is anyway. I have worked in areas with high population of Asian and Asian American students. The depiction of Asians in this book is not something that I want to share with my students. They don’t need a teacher implying that such stereotypes are okay.

I do think that perhaps people living in less multi-cultural areas may not understand that such stereotypes are offensive when they do not have much exposure to people from those cultures. 
Edited to add- I was not trying to say anything about any specific person on this board. I was generalizing based on my experience today at a local school.

 

 

I think there are issues with how the character is drawn and dressed.  The image is absolutely a racist portrayal.

But even if the image was fixed, an equally problematic element of the book is that the plot line is basically that the kid gets bored and makes up the weirdest most fantastical story he can about things you’d never see in real life in America.  The Chinese character is presented as the equivalent of an elephant walking down the street in suburbia, equally weird and out of place.  Not a way I would want my Chinese American students to be thought of.

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2 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I think there are issues with how the character is drawn and dressed.  The image is absolutely a racist portrayal.

But even if the image was fixed, an equally problematic element of the book is that the plot line is basically that the kid gets bored and makes up the weirdest most fantastical story he can about things you’d never see in real life in America.  The Chinese character is presented as the equivalent of an elephant walking down the street in suburbia, equally weird and out of place.  Not a way I would want my Chinese American students to be thought of.

Okay. But in that light. I had a very unique aspect to my Midwestern childhood - my father was an elephant caretaker.  I never viewed it in the negative light as you seem to presume it must be. And I probably never would have if someone had not explained that aspect. To me is was all about there being a parade that everyone in town was excited about, from that hillbilly in the shack to the the Chinese man.  It honestly didn’t occur to me that people who didn’t live there would participate in  a spontaneous parade. Lol

And to be fair, *at the time the book was written* - those probably were things the average little white boy in white suburbia would never expect to see.

By all means, I can understand not wanting to read it to your class with your current understanding of the story. 

18 minutes ago, SKL said:

My friends who work or have kids in elementary schools have facebook posts full of happy kids wearing Seuss costumes and making Seuss crafts.

Okay? The estate of Dr Seuss is choosing of their own free will to stop producing those books that display a once accepted racist image bc they do not want to do that. That’s good, isn’t it? The vast majority of his books do not seem to have such questionable content, correct? So why act as though all things Seuss are verboten?

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15 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

Okay? The estate of Dr Seuss is choosing of their own free will to stop producing those books that display a once accepted racist image bc they do not want to do that. That’s good, isn’t it? The vast majority of his books do not seem to have such questionable content, correct? So why act as though all things Seuss are verboten?

What did I say that implied that?

Someone observed that lots of schools are still doing Seuss this week, and I was agreeing.  That's all.

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55 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Times have changed though. We live in a much more global world where I honestly don’t expect that same kind of ignorance. I don’t mind cultural questions- even “tough” ones (like when I was a guest speaker in a Japanese high school and they asked about drug use) but I expect a certain amount of basic cultural literacy. 

Well you would be disappointed with that expectation then.  

My husband and I have had people calling or visiting Oklahoma for the first time for business ask where all the teepees are bc they thought we had real indians here.  I mean we do have lots of native Americans here, but dude Oklahoma is not as seen on the Lone Ranger?!

A lot of people do not meet someone different from themselves and ask questions.  A lot of people who travel, even heavily, do not want to learn a single thing about the places they go beyond where to get American food and not have to deal with native issues. It’s a bizarre and weird thing to me but I’ve traveled just enough to know it is true for the majority of people.

I don’t mind being ignorant bc I’m happy to learn and discuss all kinds of things to reduce it. I didn’t know about slanted eyes.  Or that the Chinese man was not even wearing Chinese items. Or that someone else views this as a boy imagining weird outsiders who can’t possibly belong in his town. Now I do.  Okie dokie.🙂

 

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1 minute ago, SKL said:

What did I say that implied that?

Someone observed that lots of schools are still doing Seuss this week, and I was agreeing.  That's all.

To me it seemed like it was only being noted to suggest or infer it should not be. Glad to be wrong tho. 

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5 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

Well you would be disappointed with that expectation then.  

My husband and I have had people calling or visiting Oklahoma for the first time for business ask where all the teepees are bc they thought we had real indians here.  I mean we do have lots of native Americans here, but dude Oklahoma is not as seen on the Lone Ranger?!

A lot of people do not meet someone different from themselves and ask questions.  A lot of people who travel, even heavily, do not want to learn a single thing about the places they go beyond where to get American food and not have to deal with native issues. It’s a bizarre and weird thing to me but I’ve traveled just enough to know it is true for the majority of people.

I don’t mind being ignorant bc I’m happy to learn and discuss all kinds of things to reduce it. I didn’t know about slanted eyes.  Or that the Chinese man was not even wearing Chinese items. Or that someone else views this as a boy imagining weird outsiders who can’t possibly belong in his town. Now I do.  Okie dokie.🙂

 

That is very strange to me. And sad. 

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23 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

Well you would be disappointed with that expectation then.  

My husband and I have had people calling or visiting Oklahoma for the first time for business ask where all the teepees are bc they thought we had real indians here.  I mean we do have lots of native Americans here, but dude Oklahoma is not as seen on the Lone Ranger?!

A lot of people do not meet someone different from themselves and ask questions.  A lot of people who travel, even heavily, do not want to learn a single thing about the places they go beyond where to get American food and not have to deal with native issues. It’s a bizarre and weird thing to me but I’ve traveled just enough to know it is true for the majority of people.

I don’t mind being ignorant bc I’m happy to learn and discuss all kinds of things to reduce it. I didn’t know about slanted eyes.  Or that the Chinese man was not even wearing Chinese items. Or that someone else views this as a boy imagining weird outsiders who can’t possibly belong in his town. Now I do.  Okie dokie.🙂

 

Have you read the book?   He’s walking home and thinking how boring his town is and how his dad is going to ask him what he saw on his walk, and he starts to think of all the fun lies he can tell.  But in the end he decides he can’t lie to his father. So he tells him the truth — all he saw was a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street. 

The plot is clear.  There is no actual parade.

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26 minutes ago, Murphy101 said:

To me it seemed like it was only being noted to suggest or infer it should not be. Glad to be wrong tho. 

I have always thought that it’s weird that we celebrate the same author 6 years in a row in elementary school.  I like a lot of Dr Seuss.  I used a lot.  But there are so many others, and it seems like a day that celebrates reading should celebrate the great variety of books.

So when it was announced that they weren’t theming it as Dr Seuss I was pleased.  I’d love to see a rotation of 6 authors, with Seuss as one, so they each kid would do each one once.  

That has nothing to do with racism.

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

Have you read the book?   He’s walking home and thinking how boring his town is and how his dad is going to ask him what he saw on his walk, and he starts to think of all the fun lies he can tell.  But in the end he decides he can’t lie to his father. So he tells him the truth — all he saw was a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street. 

The plot is clear.  There is no actual parade.

I own the book and yes I’ve read it. I know there is no actual parade. He is a bored boy imagining what if he could tell his dad that he encountered the most amazing parade he can imagine seeing on his way home.  But it’s just pretend and he been told he mustn’t exaggerate or tell lies, so he says the truth. 🤷‍♀️

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14 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Whereas I read a deeply anti-Semitic canon without any issues. People do vary on their response to this stuff.

For me it was listening to Wagner. Aside from my exposure via Bugs Bunny as a kid, my introduction to the music of Richard Wagner came though the mother of a high school girlfriend who was a German Jewish intellectual who fled just in time.

She (the mom) would blast Wagner. I was immediate enamoured with the music, and often ditched my girlfriend (pretending I needed to use the restroom) only to be found hours later sitting with her mom, in auditory ecstasy.

Then I became aware of Wagner's virulent anti-Semitism and pretty much shut him out of my life for 45 years. I suppose I may have had a copy or two of the Ring that that I listened to (while feeling guilty about it) but that was about it.

As I was about to hit 60 I kind of thought "to heck with it," I can reconcile that fact that someone can be a genius and create works of incomparable beauty while having some pretty ugly aspects to their characters.

Bill

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

I own the book and yes I’ve read it. I know there is no actual parade. He is a bored boy imagining what if he could tell his dad that he encountered the most amazing parade he can imagine seeing on his way home.  But it’s just pretend and he been told he mustn’t exaggerate or tell lies, so he says the truth. 🤷‍♀️

Which, by the way, his dad comes off as a major jerk. His kid just can't win, can he? Why is he supposed to see something exciting every day on his walk home from school anyway?

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4 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

My husband and I have had people calling or visiting Oklahoma for the first time for business ask where all the teepees are bc they thought we had real indians here.  I mean we do have lots of native Americans here, but dude Oklahoma is not as seen on the Lone Ranger?!

This is what has struck me through reading this thread. Stereotypes trap people in time.  Native Americans in teepees assumes they haven’t changed in several hundred years. The “China-man” and the depiction  of Africans in these Dr.Seuss books and other caricatures freeze those people in time hundreds of years ago.  But the white people are always depicted as modern for the time.  The white peoples aren’t shown in dress from the Middle Ages.  The caricatures and the stereotypes have allowed the white people to evolve into a modern culture.  I honestly never thought about it that way before. 

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2 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Which, by the way, his dad comes off as a major jerk. His kid just can't win, can he? Why is he supposed to see something exciting every day on his walk home from school anyway?

No argument from me there. But I think the parenting in most books sucks. Hence my PSAs when narrating all the time. LOL

2 hours ago, Cnew02 said:

This is what has struck me through reading this thread. Stereotypes trap people in time.  Native Americans in teepees assumes they haven’t changed in several hundred years. The “China-man” and the depiction  of Africans in these Dr.Seuss books and other caricatures freeze those people in time hundreds of years ago.  But the white people are always depicted as modern for the time.  The white peoples aren’t shown in dress from the Middle Ages.  The caricatures and the stereotypes have allowed the white people to evolve into a modern culture.  I honestly never thought about it that way before. 

Hmmm. I can see that. Though I have no idea how Asians in America dressed in 1930 when the book was published?

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1 hour ago, Murphy101 said:

Hmmm. I can see that. Though I have no idea how Asians in America dressed in 1930 when the book was published?

This link on the Japanese Internment shows them dressed like ordinary Americans, which of course they were.  
image.jpeg.ad26a5249dfae0454af163432a68930e.jpeg

https://www.britannica.com/event/Japanese-American-internment

 

This picture would be 1940s.  I see no reason to believe that the average Asian American in the 30s or 40s dressed in the caricatured dress shown from the time.  Google image searches show a mix of fashion even in mainland China and Japan at the time, lots of American fashion and dapper men’s suits. 

African Americans certainly dressed the same way white peoples did.  
https://orangemag.co/orangeblog/2017/2/28/100-years-of-black-womens-style-in-america

image.png.96c6971c6304b54fb45b22a9400416a0.png
 

 

Edited by Cnew02
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11 minutes ago, Cnew02 said:

This link on the Japanese Internment shows them dressed like ordinary Americans, which of course they were.  
image.jpeg.ad26a5249dfae0454af163432a68930e.jpeg

https://www.britannica.com/event/Japanese-American-internment

 

This picture would be 1940s.  I see no reason to believe that the average Asian American in the 30s or 40s dressed in the caricatured dress shown from the time.  Google image searches show a mix of fashion even in mainland China and Japan at the time, lots of American fashion and dapper men’s suits. 

African Americans certainly dressed the same way white peoples did.  
https://orangemag.co/orangeblog/2017/2/28/100-years-of-black-womens-style-in-america

image.png.96c6971c6304b54fb45b22a9400416a0.png
 

 

Okay. Interesting.  I’ve seen pictures like that but I didn’t know if that was an accurate portrayal of their private not at work/school lives. To be clear, it wouldn’t occur to me that dressing - ethnically? not sure what word to use -  would mean they were not dressed as normal ordinary Americans bc normal ordinary Americans are from many cultures and ethnicities other than WASP. 

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I'd have said the illustration isn't meant to be an Asian-American, it's meant to be an Asian person from Asia, which would have been a rather odd thing to see in a sleepy mid-western town at that time. While the illustration isn't entirely accurate in its details, people in Asian countries in the mid 20th century did not necessarily dress like Americans. I have plenty of passed down family photos from the 50s where 99% of the people in the photos are dressed in what might be considered "stereotypically" Asian clothes. 

At the time those books were written, queues would still have been in worn within the memory of living people too - they only finally went out of style in the 20s, Geisel was born in 1911. 

It's not just attitudes that have changed since the book was published - people's exposure to other cultures was much more limited generally, there was a lot less travel, and history that now seems long gone was much closer. There's a kind of real self-centeredness involved in forgetting that.

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Welcome to WTM, @SlowRiver !

36 minutes ago, SlowRiver said:

I'd have said the illustration isn't meant to be an Asian-American, it's meant to be an Asian person from Asia, which would have been a rather odd thing to see in a sleepy mid-western town at that time. While the illustration isn't entirely accurate in its details, people in Asian countries in the mid 20th century did not necessarily dress like Americans. I have plenty of passed down family photos from the 50s where 99% of the people in the photos are dressed in what might be considered "stereotypically" Asian clothes. 

At the time those books were written, queues would still have been in worn within the memory of living people too - they only finally went out of style in the 20s, Geisel was born in 1911. 

It's not just attitudes that have changed since the book was published - people's exposure to other cultures was much more limited generally, there was a lot less travel, and history that now seems long gone was much closer. There's a kind of real self-centeredness involved in forgetting that.

I concur that the images may well at the time have been "meant" to depict people who lived in distant places rather than the then-current-day Asian Americans and black Americans in Seuss' then-current-day readership.

OTOH I strongly disagree that the Seuss estate decision to pull the images now reflects "self-centeredness involved in forgetting that."  On the contrary, its own statement

Quote

Today, on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates reading and also our mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

We are committed to action.  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 QuizzerThese books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.

Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.

refers to a "mission" of supporting "all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion and friendship" and to a "broader plan to ensure..[their] catalog represents and supports all communities and families."  They state: "These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."

 

If we take the foundation at their own word...

and presume the good intent of Seuss' family...

and refrain from impugning the motives of others...

why doubt what THEY say they are "centering"?  THEY say they are "centering" children and families who have given them feedback -- whose testimony they foundation, in turn, believes -- that these images are current-day harmful.

The foundation is saying:

Quote

We believe the current-day feedback of our current-day audience

We are privileging the current-day feedback of our current-day audience over other possible values

Some of us might not have made the same call. But that is not a "self-centered" calculation. That is "other-centered."

 

 

Edited by Pam in CT
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3 hours ago, Murphy101 said:

Okay. Interesting.  I’ve seen pictures like that but I didn’t know if that was an accurate portrayal of their private not at work/school lives. To be clear, it wouldn’t occur to me that dressing - ethnically? not sure what word to use -  would mean they were not dressed as normal ordinary Americans bc normal ordinary Americans are from many cultures and ethnicities other than WASP. 

Many immigrants I know currently enjoy dressing in their native styles.  That's not weird either.  If I were making a picture book about different cultures present in some of the big US cities, they would and should include people dressed differently from the way I generally dress.  There's no virtue in trying to blur the diversity that actually exists, as if there is something wrong or subhuman about wearing a sari etc. n the USA.

[And I agree with the poster who suggested that maybe what Seuss meant to portray in Mulberry Street was a sight from an exotic country, not a fellow American who happened to have East Asian ancestors.  That would fit better into his story of a boy's vivid and exotic imagination.

And I also agree that we need to remember that most people were not all that worldly back in the days before electronic delivery of information.  I could see many people being unaware of the number of US citizens and residents who had Asian ancestry for example.]

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re modern-day choices by immigrants (or anyone else) on what clothing they want to wear

3 minutes ago, SKL said:

Many immigrants I know currently enjoy dressing in their native styles.  That's not weird either.  If I were making a picture book about different cultures present in some of the big US cities, they would and should include people dressed differently from the way I generally dress.  There's no virtue in trying to blur the diversity that actually exists, as if there is something wrong or subhuman about wearing a sari etc. n the USA.

I agree with all of this.

And don't understand what it has to do with the Seuss Foundation decision?

Or are you just making a more general observation about what clothes different folks feel moved to wear?

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Just now, Pam in CT said:

re modern-day choices by immigrants (or anyone else) on what clothing they want to wear

I agree with all of this.

And don't understand what it has to do with the Seuss Foundation decision?

Or are you just making a more general observation about what clothes different folks feel moved to wear?

My point is that it is equally wrong to insist on portraying all people as following average American norms (clothing, hairstyle, or otherwise) as it is to reflect ignorant stereotypes in literature.  The idea that Seuss should have had an ethnically Asian character dress the same as everyone else, regardless of the context, or else he's a racist, is wrong.

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3 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re modern-day choices by immigrants (or anyone else) on what clothing they want to wear

I agree with all of this.

And don't understand what it has to do with the Seuss Foundation decision?

Or are you just making a more general observation about what clothes different folks feel moved to wear?

I think the comment is in response to my post? Someone else said basically that the boy was portraying the Chinese man as “other” and not an ordinary American. I never would have thought that an Asian person dressed in ethnic clothing would mean they were “other” or not an ordinary American. 

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39 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

Welcome to WTM, @SlowRiver !

I concur that the images may well at the time have been "meant" to depict people who lived in distant places rather than the then-current-day Asian Americans and black Americans in Seuss' then-current-day readership.

OTOH I strongly disagree that the Seuss estate decision to pull the images now reflects "self-centeredness involved in forgetting that."  On the contrary, its own statement

refers to a "mission" of supporting "all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion and friendship" and to a "broader plan to ensure..[their] catalog represents and supports all communities and families."  They state: "These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."

 

If we take the foundation at their own word...

and presume the good intent of Seuss' family...

and refrain from impugning the motives of others...

why doubt what THEY say they are "centering"?  THEY say they are "centering" children and families who have given them feedback -- whose testimony they foundation, in turn, believes -- that these images are current-day harmful.

The foundation is saying:

Some of us might not have made the same call. But that is not a "self-centered" calculation. That is "other-centered."

 

 

Ah, TBH I don't really take the family's statement very seriously, I think it is disingenuous.

I think they would not have reprinted those books anyway, for the same reasons many books aren't reprinted, and were looking for publicity in making the announcement this way.  

I also think it's very common now for people to be unable to put books that are older, even a little older, in the context of their time in the most basic kind of way. Picking out that particular illustration as racist suggests to me that is part of what is going on here, whether or not others are really problematic. If others really are problematic, there is no reason to pick out other ones which aren't.  

The larger question is around the way books are being evaluated, and yes, books, including in universities, are being suppressed. This is a serious concern among many university faculty members. People are looking at this as being related, and reasonably so given the way they have chosen to approach it.

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re "publicity," whose intent is presumed to be good, vs whose motives are fair game to impugn

1 hour ago, SlowRiver said:

Ah, TBH I don't really take the family's statement very seriously, I think it is disingenuous.

I think they would not have reprinted those books anyway, for the same reasons many books aren't reprinted, and were looking for publicity in making the announcement this way. ..

Perhaps so. Perhaps the foundation was "looking for publicity" to raise awareness about the harm racist images can evoke, even if the original intent at the time of the images' creation was not to do so.

That is, after all, what the statement says.

To label that message as "self-centered" and "disingenuous" publicity is a bit... jarring. As a general matter, are you not on Team Thou Shalt Not Impugn Other Folks' Intent (as many on this board, to which you are evidently new, are)? 

Or is there something specific about foundations, or publishers, that gives rise to your cynicism here?

Or is there something specific about the foundation's expressed concern for the harm caused by racist images that gives rise to your cynicism here?

 

 

re babies v bathwater

1 hour ago, SlowRiver said:

...I also think it's very common now for people to be unable to put books that are older, even a little older, in the context of their time in the most basic kind of way. Picking out that particular illustration as racist suggests to me that is part of what is going on here, whether or not others are really problematic. If others really are problematic, there is no reason to pick out other ones which aren't. ..

I don't know if you've yet had a chance to read the parts about The Canon upthread; or about the distinction between government bans, mob burnings, or copyright holders' own decisions to cease publication for whatever reasons they choose.

All these distinctions matter.

 

 

re conflation of Seuss Foundation decision with "larger question"

1 hour ago, SlowRiver said:

..The larger question is around the way books are being evaluated, and yes, books, including in universities, are being suppressed. This is a serious concern among many university faculty members. People are looking at this as being related, and reasonably so given the way they have chosen to approach it.

This really puzzles me. How do you see Seuss pulling Seuss as "related" to universities "suppressing" books?

 

 

 


 

 

Edited by Pam in CT
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re clothing

1 hour ago, SKL said:

My point is that it is equally wrong to insist on portraying all people as following average American norms (clothing, hairstyle, or otherwise) as it is to reflect ignorant stereotypes in literature.  The idea that Seuss should have had an ethnically Asian character dress the same as everyone else, regardless of the context, or else he's a racist, is wrong.

Right.  I don't think the primary, or secondary, issue is the characters' clothing.

I think it's more around the ape features and the consistent subservience of the roles. Had Asian and black kids been depicted as regular kids with regular features going about regular business, I expect clothing would fade to the tertiary status that I agree with you and murphy it warrants.

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8 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

This really puzzles me. How do you see Seuss pulling Seuss as "related" to universities "suppressing" books?

 

I think it goes more to the backstory, i.e., before the Seuss co's statement, Seuss was being "cancelled" in some ways.  The actions of certain organizations other than the Seuss co have been over the top, and this reflects a larger trend toward erasing/distorting the past in the name of improving the present/future.

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I would say, SKL, that the past has typically been distorted and now some people are trying to fix those distortions and tell the truth for a change.

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

I think it goes more to the backstory, i.e., before the Seuss co's statement, Seuss was being "cancelled" in some ways.  The actions of certain organizations other than the Seuss co have been over the top, and this reflects a larger trend toward erasing/distorting the past in the name of improving the present/future.

How was Seuss being "cancelled" before this announcement?

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2 hours ago, SlowRiver said:

Ah, TBH I don't really take the family's statement very seriously, I think it is disingenuous.

I think they would not have reprinted those books anyway, for the same reasons many books aren't reprinted, and were looking for publicity in making the announcement this way.  

I also think it's very common now for people to be unable to put books that are older, even a little older, in the context of their time in the most basic kind of way. Picking out that particular illustration as racist suggests to me that is part of what is going on here, whether or not others are really problematic. If others really are problematic, there is no reason to pick out other ones which aren't.  

The larger question is around the way books are being evaluated, and yes, books, including in universities, are being suppressed. This is a serious concern among many university faculty members. People are looking at this as being related, and reasonably so given the way they have chosen to approach it.

RE the bolded text (bolded by me) - I just read a conversation on a homeschooling FB group about a child who was exposed to a pop culture song. Why the criticism of the inability of modern people to put old books in the "context of their time" and not popular songs? I've been a part of conservative religious circles for a long time and I've heard so many discussions about keeping certain books, movies, and songs from our children. A parent gasped when I mentioned that I did yoga with my daughter. Another mother criticized me for letting DD watch Sofia the First because it had magic. I've been a part of very earnest discussions about whether it was appropriate to allow our kids to read the Harry Potter books. 

What's the message sent when someone objects to a book with an LGBTQ character but dismisses concerns about a book with a problematic portrayal of non-white characters? 

And speaking of placing a book in the context of its time, I'm currently reading Prairie Fires which is a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I grew up on the LIW books but did not share them with DD. Prairie Fires is a fascinating book because it tells LIW's real life story (not the curated version of her life told in her books) and the history happening at the time. 

I've observed that when people say that we would ignore issues with books like the LIW books because we should place them in the context of their time, those people rarely do the work themselves to understand these books and the history. What they actually want is to enjoy the books as they are without looking deeper. LIW books are on all of the homeschooling lists. How many HSing mothers assign those books to their kids and have discussions about why Laura felt as she did about Native Americans? How many attempt to struggle with the propagandistic elements of those books. 

 

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