Dr. Seuss once said, “You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
And, according to a new study from St. Catherine University, that should be away from Dr. Seuss books.
“The presence of anti-blackness, Orientalism and white supremacy span across Seuss’ entire literary collection and career,” say researchers Katie Ishizuka and Ramon Stephens.
Ishizuka and Stephens collected several instances of Seuss’ racism to illustrate their point.
For example, in the original version of the story And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, a Chinese man is drawn “with chopsticks and a bowl of rice in his hands, bright yellow skin, slanted eyes, a long black braid, and a conical hat,” write the researchers.
In the book If I Ran the Zoo, a white man says he would “put a person of colour wearing a turban” on display.
Ishizuka and Stephens call this is an act of “dehumanization,” which is “to treat someone as though he or she is not human.”
Researchers also found that Dr. Seuss only ever wrote about two human black characters, and both are depicted as monkeys.
From 1941 to 1943, Dr. Seuss — born Theodor Seuss Geisel — worked as the chief political cartoonist for a New York newspaper called PM.
Most of his drawings took aim at people like Hitler and Mussolini, and ideologies such as anti-Semitism. However, Seuss also created several racist cartoons about black and Japanese people.
The internment of Japanese Americans began shortly after Seuss’s cartoons were published. It’s widely believed that Seuss tried to make amends for his racism towards Japanese people in later stories, such as Horton Hears a Who.