Dr. Seuss illustrations are under fire

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Theodore Geisel, more commonly known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was the author behind some of the most popular children’s books of all time. However, Seuss Enterprises recently decided to permanently discontinue several of his works, removing them from shelves across the country. 

Six of Seuss’s hit stories, including “And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo” and “On Beyond Zebra,” will cease publication due to illustrations that many view as ignorant, racist and outdated

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, a children’s entertainment company whose purpose is to oversee Dr. Seuss’s legacy and work, released a statement regarding the end of publication of those six works.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Seuss Enterprises said. “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 illustrations currently under fire include a Chinese man depicted with slanted lines for eyes and two characters from Africa shown without shoes, shirtless and wearing grass skirts.

In an interview with NBC News, Columbia University professor Dr. Chris Emdin described the change as thoughtfulness, not a cancellation. 

“Society is recognizing the ills of the past and is attempting to move past it,” Emdin said. “If my daughter sees an image and it looks like her, it won’t be one that’s behind the walls of a zoo.”

While some see the decision to discontinue as long overdue, others are disappointed in the censorship. 

New York Post reporter Karol Markowicz took to Twitter with strong criticisms against “cancel culture” following Seuss Enterprises’ announcement, complaining about the latest in cancel culture. 

“Today, it’s Dr. Seuss’s turn,” Markowicz tweeted. “How do we stop the stupid? Serious question.”

Markowicz’s tweet displays an example of opinions from those who believe an author’s outdated work must be accepted as evidential pieces of societal change. When documenting the ignorance of past social norms, many believe outdated content like Seuss’s should ever be erased from history. 

Georgia State senior Darren Craddock grew up reading Seuss’s work, both in his home and at school. At 22 years old, he recognizes that the material did not age well, especially when enhanced by “cancel culture’s” social climate. 

“During World War II, Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist often siding with the Allied powers who often depicted the Japanese in a bad light,” Craddock said. “Do I think Dr. Seuss is a racist? No. Do I think that some of his illustrations need to be recalled and updated? Yes.” 

Editor’s Note: A quote from this article was removed due to a conflict of interest. Updated 4/23/21 at 8:11 p.m.