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Is this another case of cancel culture?

Publication ceases on six Dr. Seuss books over "hurtful and wrong" imagery

By Kara Santos Published Mar 03, 2021 3:26 am

Six Dr. Seuss classic children's books written decades ago—including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, the author's first ever children's book published in 1937 and If I Ran the Zoo written in 1950, will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery.

According to an official statement released by Dr. Seuss Enterprises on Tuesday (Mar. 2), coinciding with the late author and illustrator’s birthday, other titles that will cease publication include: McElligot’s Pool (1947), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976). 

The business that preserves and protects the late beloved author's legacy said these books "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong” and that ceasing their sales is only part of their commitment and broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families. 

The enterprise added that they celebrate reading and their mission of supporting all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship.

Read their entire statement below: 

"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 Quizzer.  These 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.

The decision to cease publication and licensing of the books was made last year after months of discussion with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company founded by Seuss' family and feeback from audiences including a panel of experts, including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of the company's review of their catalog of titles."

The books, originally published between 1937 and 1976, reportedly contain numerous caricatures of Asian and Black people that incorporate stereotypes that have been criticized as racist.

As reported by the Associated Press, in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, an Asian person is portrayed wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. If I Ran the Zoo includes a drawing of two bare-footed African men wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.

The most famous Dr. Seuss books, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Green Eggs and Ham are not part of the list of books that will be pulled from publication.

American children's author, political cartoonist, and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work has been translated into dozens of languages as well as in braille and are sold in more than 100 countries. The author, who was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904 passed away in 1991 at the age of 87.

His work has spawned numerous adaptations including 11 television specials, five feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series.

Random House Children's Books, Dr. Seuss' publisher, issued a brief statement Tuesday: “We respect the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) and the work of the panel that reviewed this content last year, and their recommendation.”

Dr. Seuss books are adored by millions around the world for their whimsical illustrations and positive values including messages of environmentalism in "The Lorax" and tolerance seen in “The Sneetches,” a parable about discrimination and equality. 

The move to cease publication of the books drew reactions on social media from those who called it another example of “cancel culture" and "retroactively editing history."

(Images by Dr. Seuss)