Column: Criticism of Dr. Seuss is warranted

Destiny Blanchard

The majority of us grew up reading popular Dr. Seuss books such as “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Lorax” and “The Cat in the Hat.” Normally we look back on those books fondly while remembering our childhoods. As one of the world’s most famous children’s authors, Dr. Seuss is associated with the joy he brought to children. Unfortunately, like many things, the true nature of Dr. Seuss and his literature becomes darker when you dig deep into it.

Dr. Seuss was born under the name Theodore Seuss and wrote the majority of his works from the 1920s until the 90s. Many of his books offer commentary on political and social issues. “The Lorax” comments on environmentalism and consumerism, “The Sneetches” is about racial equality and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” criticizes materialism and consumerism during the holiday season. All of these topics are necessary for children to learn and are written in a way for them to comprehend.

Dr. Seuss does not have a completely clean slate as a few of his books have been under criticism for racist and insensitive imagery. In Dr. Seuss’s “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” there is a depiction of an Asian person wearing traditional clothing, holding chopsticks and eating from a bowl, which are clear examples of Asian stereotypes.

In “The Cat’s Quizzer” a Japanese character is referred to as “a Japanese” and is depicted with a bright yellow face.

In “If I Ran the Zoo” three Asian characters are described as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell.” In the same book, there is a drawing of barefooted African men wearing grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads. These are only some of the problematic instances in Dr. Seuss’s books.

Because of the criticism that Dr. Seuss’s books have been under Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the decision to no longer publish six of his books because of the racist and insensitive images within them.

The decision to stop publishing these books is a smart one because many people don’t realize how easy it is for children to take in whatever is presented to them. Getting rid of literature that depicts people of color with racist stereotypes lessens the chance for children to harbor those same ideas and perpetuate them as they grow older.

 

Destiny Blanchard is a junior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]