Three authors announced they would boycott a since cancelled children’s book festival because of a mural by Dr. Seuss which they say depicts Asian stereotypes.
The Boston Globe reports their protest has prompted The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts to remove the mural and cancel the festival.
It depicts the caricature of an Asian man with exaggerated slanted eyes, a pointed hat and chopsticks.
“We find this caricature of ‘the Chinaman’ deeply hurtful, and have concerns about children’s exposure to it,” said the three authors in a joint statement.
Lisa Yee, Mike Curato and Mo Willems called the mural a ” jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man.”
— Mo Willems’ Pigeon (@The_Pigeon) October 5, 2017
After the mural was removed, the authors offered to appear at the museum as previously scheduled.
The museum said it hopes to turn the controversy into a teachable moment.
According to literature professor Philip Nel of Kansas State University, Dr. Seuss originally identified his caricature as a “Chinaman,” but following criticism changed the text to Chinese man and altered the man’s pigtails and yellow skin color.
A statement from the museum was published in Mass Live.
Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote under the pen name Dr. Seuss during his lifetime from 1904 – 1991. Dr. Seuss created an enormous body of work including children’s books and political cartoons. Dr. Seuss was a man of his times. He was also a man who evolved with his times. Dr. Seuss’s own story is a story of growth with some early works containing hurtful stereotypes to later works like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who! which contain lessons of tolerance and inclusion.It is in that spirit that Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the Springfield Museums listened to the concerns voiced by the authors and fans and have made the decision to take down the Mulberry street mural at the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and replace it with a new image that reflects the wonderful characters and messages from Dr. Seuss’s later works. This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who, showed a great respect for fairness and diversity. Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, “It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.”