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6 Dr. Seuss books won't be published moving forward due to racist images

Dr. Seuss books racist imagery
Posted at 4:10 AM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 20:27:26-05

BOSTON — The business that preserves and protects Dr. Seuss’ legacy has announced it will stop publishing six titles because of racist and insensitive imagery.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement on Tuesday, the author and illustrator's birthday, that the books portray people in ways that are hurtful.

“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’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the organization said in a statement.

The six books affected by the company's decision are “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” "McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

The decision follows months of deliberation.

“Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process. We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles,” it said.

ABC 10News spoke to JoAnn Fields with the Asian Pacific Islander Initiative. She said she was surprised these books were still in circulation.

"If it's on the market, I would think it's safe," Fields said.

The 2019 study Dr. Seuss Enterprises referred to, looked at fifty Dr. Seuss children's books, where originals are kept at UC San Diego's Geisel Library. Of the more than 2,200 human characters, 98% were white, and only 2% or 45 characters were people of color. Two were identified as African characters portraying anti-Blackness, and 43 were identified as having racist portrayals of East Asians or wearing turbans.

San Diego State University's author Virginia Loh-Hagan studies and writes books about the Asian American experience. She said historically, there has not been enough representation in this realm.

"We have to avoid one-dimensional characterizations. We have to avoid stereotypes, and we have to avoid hurtful images that we know have implications," Loh-Hagan said.

The women agreed that negative visual depictions can have lasting effects on impressionable children.

"Because my kids are of mixed race, I don't want them to feel bad about themselves or have a low self-esteem because we are looked at in a certain way," Fields said.

Loh-Hagan said pulling the six books from publication is a good first step and a teachable moment.

"It's important to have those conversations about what was going on? Why is it not okay? What can we do now, now that we know more?" Loh-Hagan said.

"I am going to go through their library to make sure that my kids aren't exposed to something negative or that I am prepared for that discussion because we cannot shield our kids like it's not happening. It's happening," Fields said.

Books by Dr. Seuss, who was born Theodor Geisel in 1904 and died in 1991, still remain beloved. His works earned his estate an estimated $33 million before taxes in 2020. However, his books have been increasingly criticized over the way Blacks, Asians and other groups are portrayed.

ABC 10News reached out to UC San Diego's Librarian for comment on this story. We did not hear back.