Why the decision to pull 6 Dr. Seuss books is an important move for diversity
On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises celebrates the late children's author and illustrator's 117th birthday with an important announcement: The publication and licensing of six Seuss titles that "depict people hurtfully and incorrectly" will be discontinued, according to a statement shared on social media.
These titles - If I ran the zoo and thought I saw it on Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool, Scrambled Eggs Super !, The Cat's Quizzer, and On Beyond Zebra! - were selected for racist images. A 2019 study conducted by researchers from the Conscious Kid's Library and the University of California at San Diego found that the writer's work contained orientalist and anti-black references, including colored characters featured in submissive, exotic or dehumanized roles. "
The announcement coincides with the National Education Association's Read Across America Day, a youth literacy event that until 2018 was geared towards the birthday of Seuss (née Theodor Seuss Geisel), but has since celebrated children's books with more diversity and inclusiveness. This is a mission that Dr. Seuss Enterprises, who manages the cat in the Hat author's catalog, expressed his support in his statement and is committed to ensuring that his work "represents and supports all communities and families".
Conservative critics, meanwhile, blame the decision to suspend publication of the six books on "Breaking Up Culture," with Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeting, "When history looks back on that period, it is cited as an example of a depraved sociopolitical cleansing. " driven by hysteria and madness. "A common refrain is that Seuss - who died in 1991 and wrote most of the offensive books in the 1950s, the most recent being published in 1976 - is unfairly subordinate to the standards of modern PC culture.
However, this is opposed by professionals in the publishing industry, as Dr. Seuss - whose remaining titles, including The Lorax, which was removed from a California school district's reading list in 1988 for being too liberal on environmental issues - continue to be published and licensed. Deborah Caldwell Stone, director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office of Freedom of Thought, tells Yahoo Life that Dr. Seuss Enterprises is "well in their rights" and does not mean that the six titles will necessarily be banned.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises will cease publishing six books by the famous author and illustrator on racist representations. (Photo: Gene Lester / Getty Images)
"They didn't ask anyone to remove the books from their collections, whether they were libraries, schools, or personal collections," she says. It affirms that, as evidenced by the ALA lists of banned and challenged books, "various subjects such as LGBTQ subjects and characters or books dealing with racial justice" were more often "targets of complaint".
Despite rumors that it banned Seuss' books, the Loudoun County public schools in Virginia issued a statement prior to Read Across America Day clarifying that there was no ban and that the school district used the event to educate the students to encourage "read all kinds of books that." are inclusive, diverse and reflect our student community, don't just celebrate Dr. Seuss. "His works are still available in school libraries and classrooms.
Caldwell Stone adds that while the publication bans in and of itself would not be a reason for the books to be removed, it could provide an "opportunity" for libraries and schools to "rate" the work and approve its suitability for use according to their collection development guidelines determine their collections in the future.
"It is a professional responsibility of librarians to critically evaluate the items in their collections and to consider and consider issues such as prejudice, racism [and] stereotypes when deciding whether or not to collect or keep a book Book in their collection, "she says.
"And it is important that libraries, as community institutions, address the issues of racism, prejudice and discrimination and make this part of their mission to promote cultural understanding and defend justice, diversity and inclusion.
"Ultimately, we think this is an opportunity for discussion - that this decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises can be seen as an opportunity for adults to think critically about Seuss books and make a decision whether to share those books with them or not to discuss racial and racial prejudice with the children in their lives and with children and adults. "
While critics have complained that if children are at risk of losing access to the full Seuss catalog, early childhood education experts like Shantel Meek, founding director of the Children's Equity Project at Arizona State University, which advises on policy to make learning opportunities fairer, argue to design so that these changes actually benefit young readers who do not see themselves in the books they read.
"The children's books we keep should reflect the beautiful diversity of young American children," Meek told Yahoo Life. "For too long, children of color have been underrepresented, grossly misrepresented, or left out entirely in books and other learning resources. It's long gone of broadening our horizons and making sure all children have access to literature that is representative of our youth, readers and all Your stories. "
Rheeda Walker, an Atlanta-based psychologist who specializes in black mental health, confirms that sentiment. While Walker says, "there are some who are likely to be outraged by the decision to discontinue certain Seuss books," she sees this as an opportunity to expand on stories that empower young people in color, rather than those that will take an emotional toll demanding by maintaining "humiliation". Stereotypes.
"We can also learn to embrace the diversity of blacks - who are not a monolith - by highlighting narratives that speak of strength, brilliance and creativity in black communities rather than racist tropes," she told Yahoo Life. "We can move forward together if we resist negative imagery and prejudice and instead play more precise and positive roles for blacks in all aspects of art."
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