Last week Hasbro announced it was getting rid of Mr. Potato Head, except not really. Hasbro decided to rebrand as “Potato Head” because they sell a Mr and a Mrs. Potato Head. They have predetermined the genders of the potatoes instead of just sticking all the various genders up the backside of a single potato and letting individuals decide for themselves. Hasbro was trying to balance between the wokes and the non-wokes. First, they came for Mr. Potato head. Now they're coming for Dr. Seuss.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an education column, and there is a guest column now from Charis Granger-Mbugua, a teacher. She is a national board-certified teacher, a Spelman graduate, and her latest column is about Dr. Seuss. "A 2019 study found only 2% of Dr. Seuss's human characters were people of color and they were reduced to racist caricatures." Here’s an excerpt.
"Nearly seven years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and filled with all the wonder and anticipation of an inexperienced mom to be, I was gifted a lovely hardcover collection of Dr. Seuss classics by a dear coworker and friend. From How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the Cat in the Hat, this anthology of Seuss favorites struck me as a thoughtful, generous gift. Little did I know at the time, and honestly, even up until recently, the racist and damaging history of Dr. Suess and his work, which included many famous children's stories, illustrations, and minstrel shows. I am inclined to believe that the friend who gave me the book was also ignorant of the harmful and destructive stereotypes Suess used."
I am inclined to believe the friend had no idea. Over the last few weeks, I have found myself learning about just how problematic Dr. Seuss and his books are, especially for children who are Black, Indigenous and people of color."
This person read the book for years and it was only recently that she had a woke-up call about the cultural dangers of Dr. Seuss' writings. Now, why was she ignorant of Dr. Seuss' books? Because over time, Dr. Seuss changed. In fact, a lot of the stuff that pointed to as evidence of Dr. Seuss’s racism was World War Two propaganda against the Nazis in Japanese. There were racist stereotypes as well. From drsuessart.com:
When Ted first began to write for children in 1937, many representations of people of color in the media were unfortunately depicted through racial stereotypes. In his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, his work was no exception. For example, to represent a lone Asian character, Ted employed “traditional clothing” and chopsticks to depict his ethnicity. He originally referred to this character as a “Chinaman” and showed his skin color as yellow. It is important to note that in a later reprint he removed the color and changed the text to “a Chinese man.”
Geisel’s great nephew Ted Owens recalled his uncle’s decision to make that change: "It was the first time he had changed one of his books . . . . Art and humanity are always evolving."
Here is Barack Obama just four short years ago:
All of the stuff you need to know is in Dr. Suess. It's like the Star-Belly Sneetches, you know? We're all the same, so why would we treat somebody differently just because they don't have a star on their belly? If I think about responsibility, I think about Horton sitting on the egg up in the tree, while Lazy Mayzie's flying off doing whatever she wants. Do you know what I mean? All I'm saying is that as you get older, what you will find is that the homespun, basic virtues that your mom, or your dad, or folks you care about or admire, taught you about hard work, being responsible, being kind, giving something back, being useful, working as a team, turns out it's all true.
The context around this is important. Four years ago, the first Black president of the United States was positively citing Dr. Seuss as a person from whom you can learn lessons about how to treat other people. Fast forward four years and American educators are saying we can't read Dr. Seuss because in his early works, he was racist. Seriously?
"I am Sam. I am Sam. Sam I am. That Sam I am, that Sam I am. I do not like that, Sam I am. Would you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam. I am. I do not like green eggs and ham. Would you like them here or there? I would not like them here or there. I would not like them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam. I am."
Sam clearly was a bigoted, homophobic, anti-trans, horrible person who has to be canceled because he wanted dudes to eat green eggs and ham. And guess what? He wound up liking them when he finally tried them.
First they came for Mr. Potato head, and now they're coming for Dr. Seuss. Does Barack Obama have to be canceled, for four years ago saying you can learn all of life's lessons on how to treat people well by reading Dr. Seuss? Where is the racism in the Grinch? Cindy Lou Who, was she a member of the Klan? And we just didn't realize it in the book? Horton Hears a Who. A what? See, Horton is ignoring the oppressed.
This is crazy town ridiculousness that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is giving voice to an educator who writes, "Though I may be late, I am willing to admit that I was ignorant to the truth of Dr. Seuss' writings until recently. I have unknowingly read many of his books to my own children. But now that I am better informed, I am committed to advocating for change. Because when we know better, we should be better."
What's so interesting here is you have an English teacher who wants to ban certain books. First of all, I'm astonished that a newspaper that is privileged under the First Amendment to report the news would give voice to a column of someone who wants to effectively ban books. Second, it is worth pointing out four years ago what Barack Obama said about Dr. Seuss. Third, it should be noted the English teacher herself did not realize how cancelable Dr. Seuss was when she read his books to her kids. Someone else had to point it out to her. Fourth, and most importantly, it's worth noting Dr. Seuss’s evolution over time. Horton Hears a Who, The Lorax, The Sneetches — they're all about inclusion and acceptance. Dr. Seuss spent the later part of his career, where he really exploded into popularity, teaching these things.
The idea that you're going to read, Oh, The Places You Go, and you'll wind up a racist is absurd. The man clearly evolved over time and his later works — the ones commonly read — are not vile racist books.
Really, is The Cat in the Hat a racist book? This is where the left is these days. This is where they're headed, censoring everything they don't like and demanding we stop reading it, no matter that the later books written by Dr. Suess actually reflect the values that the first Black president of the United States said you should embrace. I guess we've got to cancel Barack Obama now, or force him to walk through the streets while people chant "shame" at him.
Woke-o Haram will not rest until we are a third world Wokestan.
Yet another reason I'm glad I stopped subscribing to AJC several years ago. Too "woke" for me.
When are they going to cancel the late Democratic Senator Robert Byrd for his former life in the KKK? He also voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.