Can “cancel culture” assign the works of Dr Seuss to the store room?

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Theodor Seuss Geisel is Dr. Seuss.

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Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to be “cancelled”.[1] Merriam-Webster notes that to “cancel”, as used in this context, means “to stop giving support to that person”[2] while Dictionary.com, in its pop-culture dictionary, defines cancel culture as “withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”[3] The expression “cancel culture” has mostly negative connotations and is commonly used in debates on free speech and censorship.

The notion of cancel culture is a variant on the term call-out culture and constitutes a form of boycotting involving an individual (usually a celebrity) who is deemed to have acted or spoken in a questionable or controversial manner.[2][4][5][6][7]

For those at the receiving end of cancel culture, the consequences can lead to loss of reputation and income that can be hard to recover from.[8]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancel_culture

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Caitlin Ellis

CULTURE

National MP defends Dr Suess after books pulled due to ‘racist imagery’14 minutes ago

Caitlin Ellis

Related Video: Six Dr Suess titles have been pulled from publication due to “racist imagery.” Credits: Video – Newshub; Image – Newshub / Facebook – Barbara Kuriger MP

A National MP is defending Dr Suess on social media after six of his titles were pulled from publication due to “racist imagery”. 

Dr Seuss Enterprises, which represents the late author and illustrator, made the announcement on March 2 saying, “these books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong”.

The books to be pulled include the first book Dr Suess ever published as well as And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra! Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer.

They were pulled from print due to the racist way characters of Asian and African ethnicity are depicted.

Now National MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger has come out in defence of the author, asking Facebook users to: “release the grudge, the hate, the rue, and embrace the hope of Cindy Lou.”

Kuriger says she copied the poem from a friend. The post beginning with: “Alas they’ve come for Dr Suess, they wish to hang him with a noose. They claim his tales were racist bent, they judged him fast, missed what he meant.”
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The post was met with criticism from commenters citing the fact that Dr Seuss Enterprises pulled its own books. 

“‘They’ is literally his estate (including family) who are choosing not to continue publishing some poor selling and problematic books anymore,” one user wrote, adding “none of the books in this quote are amongst those being discontinued and the decision was made a year ago by his estate. Get a grip.”

“Worth noting that Dr Seuss Enterprises have made this decision themselves and they have only ceased publishing six out of around 40 titles,” said another, adding that “claims ‘Dr Suess has been banned’ is a gross exaggeration.”

“Surely you aren’t suggesting the owner of a book should not have the right to make their own decisions, are you?” 

Others took the chance to inform Kuriger that all the books mentioned in her friend’s poem were still being published. 

“Yeah, all of the books you’re quoting are still being published. Maybe go see what you like about the six being ‘cancelled’.”

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These 6 will no longer be published due to “racist, insensitive images”.

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
If I Ran the Zoo
McElligot’s Pool
On Beyond Zebra!
Scrambled Eggs Super!
The Cat’s Quizzer

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6 Dr. Seuss books to stop being published because of racist imagery

‘These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,’ business says

By Audrey Conklin | Fox News

The sales of six Dr. Seuss books will cease over racist and insensitive imagery, according to the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy.

The news comes Thursday on National Read Across America Day, when schools across the U.S. celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’s March 2 birthday to commemorate the popular children’s author, who died in 1991.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement.

“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 statement continued.

Copies of “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” will no longer be published.

The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made last year after months of discussion, the company told AP.

“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.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/dr-seuss-books-canceled-racist-imagery

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Biden’s snub of Dr. Seuss comes as progressives have sought to cancel the beloved children’s author

By Peter Hasson | Fox News

President Biden appears to have erased Dr. Seuss from “Read Across America Day”, the annual celebration of reading in honor of the legendary children’s author, whose birthday falls on March 2.

While Biden followed presidential tradition in proclaiming Tuesday “Read Across America Day,” he bucked his predecessors by leaving out any mention of Dr. Seuss from the proclamation.

The White House didn’t immediately return a request for comment on why Dr. Seuss was left out of the proclamation, but the snub comes as progressives have sought to cancel the beloved children’s author. 

One of Virginia’s biggest school districts, Loudoun County Public Schools, reportedly nixed Dr. Seuss from the school’s “Read Across America Day” celebration, citing alleged racial “undertones” in his children’s books. 

VIRGINIA SCHOOL SYSTEM CANCELS DR. SEUSS, CITING RACIAL ‘UNDERTONES’ IN HIS WRITINGS  

Former President Barack Obama and former President Donald Trump both highlighted Dr. Seuss’ contributions in their annual proclamations, a Fox News review of White House archives found. 

“The works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to us as Dr. Seuss, have sparked a love for reading in generations of students.,” Obama said in his 2015 proclamation. “His whimsical wordplay and curious characters inspire children to dream big and remind readers of all ages that ‘a person’s a person no matter how small.” 

Obama’s 2016 proclamation described Seuss as “one of America’s revered wordsmiths” who “used his incredible talent to instill in his most impressionable readers universal values we all hold dear.” 

Trump, in his 2018 proclamation, urged Americans to “always remember the still-vibrant words of Dr. Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.'” 

Then-first lady Melania Trump celebrated Read Across America Day in 2017 by reading Dr. Seuss books to hospitalized children.

“Dr. Seuss has brought so much joy, laughter and enchantment into children’s lives all around the globe for generations,” Melania said at the time.

“Through his captivating rhymes, Dr. Seuss has delighted and inspired children while teaching them to read, to dream, and to care.” 

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-erases-dr-seuss-read-across-america-proclamation

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Dr. Seuss Books Can Be Racist, But Students Keep Reading Them

February 26, 20197:00 AM ET

TIARA JENKINS

JESSICA YARMOSKY

This week, millions of students and teachers are taking part in Read Across America, a national literacy program celebrated annually around the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. For over 20 years, teachers and students have donned costumes — often the Cat in the Hat’s iconic red and white striped hat — and devoured books like Green Eggs and Ham.

But some of Seuss’ classics have been criticized for the way they portray people of color. In And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example, a character described as Chinese has two lines for eyes, carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice, and wears traditional Japanese-style shoes. In If I Ran the Zoo, two men said to be from Africa are shown shirtless, shoeless and wearing grass skirts as they carry an exotic animal. Outside of his books, the author’s personal legacy has come into question, too — Seuss wrote an entire minstrel show in college and performed as the main character in full blackface.

In light of this, the National Education Association rebranded Read Across America in 2017, backing away from Seuss’ books and Seuss-themed activities. It introduced a new theme of “celebrating a nation of diverse readers.” Its website now highlights works by and about people of color.

CODE SWITCH

People Of Color Accounted For 22 Percent Of Children’s Books Characters In 2016

But in many schools and libraries, the week is still synonymous with all things Seuss. Classrooms are decorated in colorful red and blue fish and children dress up as their favorite iconic characters, like Thing 1 and Thing 2, dreaming of the places they’ll go.

That tension between Seuss and Seuss-free classrooms is emblematic of a bigger debate playing out across the country — should we continue to teach classic books that may be problematic, or eschew them in favor of works that more positively represent people of color?

Part of the reason this debate is so complicated is the staying power of classic books. Think back to the works lining your school bookshelves.In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the N-word appears more than 200 times. But for generations, people have argued that the book is vital to understanding race relations in America in the late 1800s. And the trope of Jews as greedy and money-hungry is pretty clear in The Merchant of Venice. Yet Shakespeare is hailed for his keen understanding of human nature that continues to be relevant today.

Jaya Saxena, a writer whose work examines inclusivity in young adult literature, is in favor of revamping the canon. But she understands why teachers might continue to teach it. She says when she was in high school, her teachers used the classics to teach literary devices and styles of writing, not necessarily to prioritize certain narratives or worldviews. The Merchant of Venice, for example, is a prime example of allegory.

“The point was, here’s what this book does well,” Saxena says. “Maybe they weren’t everybody’s favorite books, but they were good examples of … the craft of writing.”

And when planning lessons from year to year, it’s easier for teachers to prioritize books they’re already familiar with. But when these books include offensive stereotypes, teachers have to decide whether to continue teaching them and how.

“Not engaging [with problematic texts] at all runs too great a risk of not learning or understanding where the problems lie,” says Larissa Pahomov, who teaches English at a high school in Philadelphia. “I believe there is a way to look at material that is stereotypical [and] racist and identify it for what it is, and then hopefully, in doing so, neutralize its effect.”
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Which brings us back to Dr. Seuss.

In a study published earlier this month in Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens found that only 2 percent of the human characters in Seuss’ books were people of color. And all of those characters, they say, were “depicted through racist caricatures.”

Those caricatures have a potent effect, even at an early age. Research shows that even at the age of 3, children begin to form racial biases, and by the age of 7, those biases become fixed.

“One of the reasons for that is the images and experiences that they’re exposed to regarding marginalized groups and people of color,” Stephens says. “And so [Seuss’ books] being mainstream, and being spread out all over the world, has large implications.”

If kids open books and “the images they see [of themselves] are distorted, negative [or] laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society in which they are a part,” Rudine Sims Bishop, a scholar of children’s literature, wrote in a 1990 article.

But when they see themselves represented in a positive way, it can have a similarly powerful effect.

That’s one of the reasons first-grade teacher Emily Petersen says she won’t be reading Dr. Seuss with her students this week, or ever.

“If I’m looking at a 6-year-old and choosing what story [I’m] going to teach them how to read through, I’m definitely going to choose the one that affirms and celebrates identities in a new way,” she says.
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But the forces that have kept Dr. Seuss on the bookshelf for decades are strong. Often, schools plan their Read Across America events months in advance. Costumes, books and activities from previous years are ready to go. It can be difficult for teachers to deviate from these plans, especially when they have celebrated in the same way year after year after year. And with over 650 million of his books in circulation worldwide, just like his infamous cat, it looks like Dr. Seuss will keep coming back.

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2019/02/26/695966537/classic-books-are-full-of-problems-why-cant-we-put-them-down

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1 Response to Can “cancel culture” assign the works of Dr Seuss to the store room?

  1. E Lye says:

    So that’s what happened to Tuah and Jebat. Wonder then it will roll over P Ramlee.

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