Yesterday, I wrote a blog titled “Jerks On Parade”, which featured a Cambridge, Massachusetts elementary school librarian named liz phipps soeiro, who refused a donation of children’s books from First Lady Melania Trump.
At that time I didn’t put up what soeiro thought of Dr. Seuss, whose books have delighted children and adults for decades. But, in the spirit of showing how complete a jerk she is, I will now.
Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,” reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters. Scholar Philip Nel’s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.
Since both Barack and Michelle Obama were perfectly happey to read Dr. Seuss books to children (click here to read John Sexton’s article about soeiro, which inlcudes a half-dozen videos of them doing so), I guess they’re racists too. Just like Dr. Seuss.
A jerk is a jerk. And this jerk is a big one.