On Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the organization committed to preserving his works, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, issued a statement that they’d cease the publication of six titles because of 'racist imagery'. “ 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,” they said in a statement. If I Ran the Zoo, and The Cat’s Quizzer are among the titles.
The organization said that the decision was taken after working with experts and educators to review the titles and they found that these books ‘portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong’. Dr. Suess, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, worked on a number of children’s books; Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! being two of his most popular titles.
Of the titles being ceased, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street depicts an Asian man with lines for eyes wearing a conical hat, eating with chopsticks. The caption reads, “A Chinaman who eats with sticks...”
If I Ran the Zoo has been called out for multiple instances of offensive caricatures. One of the depictions shows two bare-footed African men in grass skirts with their hair tied above their head- this imagery has often been used to depict Black people, including instances of blackface. The same book also shows three men probably intended to be Asian with an animal cage on top of their heads with the main character standing on it. There are also instances of alleged Middle Eastern and Russian visual stereotypes.
McElligot’s Pool is facing criticism for the depiction of Inuits (while using a derogatory term given to the natives by racist colonizers). One page from the book depicts fish wearing fur hoods. On Beyond Zebra! also has offensive (one can only assume) South-Asian depictions.
While Scrambled Eggs Super! is one of his least politically inclined books. A Twitter user says that the book shows the character Ali being chased and pecked by a fleet of birds. The Cat’s Quizzer has the famous Cat in the Hat asking the readers questions. The book has come under scrutiny for ridiculing pygmy people and the Japanese.
The move was met with mixed reactions on social media. While some people lauded the organization, others claim that this is all a part of ‘cancel culture’. 2 March isn’t just Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it’s also celebrated as the ‘Read Across America Day’. President Biden didn’t mention Dr. Seuss by name in his address, something both Obama and Trump did.