A new study from a peer-reviewed academic journal says that classic children’s books written by Dr. Seuss are racist.
According to a report from The College Fix, the peer-reviewed academic journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature published an article in February that argued that books by Dr. Seuss are racist.
The paper was authored by Katie Ishizuka of The Conscious Kid Library and Ramón Stephens, a doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego. The paper details Dr. Seuss’s early history, which included the publication of racially insensitive cartoons. Dr. Suess also supported the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
In the 1930s, Dr. Seuss published a “… BONERS” spread in College Humor featuring racist depictions of Asians and sexist depictions of women. He also published an illustration for Dartmouth Outing Club’s program, which featured stereotypical depictions of Indigenous people with large feather headdresses, long pipes, and nearly naked in the snow. His 1933 spread in Life magazine featured Orientalist depictions of men in turbans and men riding camels, as did his comic strips in the Sunday American and Chicago Herald and Examiner. His 1933 political cartoon in Vanity Fair depicted “Mexico” as a knife-wielding Mexican man in an oversized sombrero lighting a bomb and an Asian man holding a “Yellow Peril” flag. Between 1934 and 1936, Dr. Seuss published a series of advertisements for Essomarine Oils & Greases featuring Black people with ape faces or as monkeys and cannibals in grass skirts.
The paper does acknowledge that Dr. Suess broke barriers with his book, The Sneetches, which focused on the themes of tolerance and diversity. The book is widely considered to be a commentary on the discrimination that was taking place in the United States at the time.
NPR published a report, joining those that are concerned about Dr. Suess’ early history. The report notes that the National Education Association, now called “Read Across America,” has dropped Dr. Suess’ works from their activities as a result of this controversy.