Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Dr. Seuss foundation removes six books over racial sensitivity; more on "Little Black Sambo" and the history is more complicated than you think


book pyramid at Ford's Theater

ABC News and the Associated Press report that six Dr. Seuss children’s books will be removed from publication by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the trust that preserves his legacy, story by Mark Pratt.  The books were felt, however unintentionally, to preserve racial and gender-related stereotypes by the cultural standards of today.  The book series publisher is Random House Children’s Books.

I see also in the story that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” novels have fallen into cultural disfavor over portrayal of native Americans.  I remember the series for Michael Landon, who had a premature death from pancreatic cancer in the summer of 1991 at age 54, and there are new stories that he may have been exposed to carcinogens at a filming site in California.  He became ill on a ski trip in early 1991. 

I remember the Little Golden Book “Little Black Sambo” (author Helen Bannerman, illustrator Gustav Tenggren) as a boy, and today the title sounds racist. There is also a “ Story of Little Black Sambo”, the only “authorized” hardcover.  The original book stems from 1922, and the Little Golden Book came out in 1948.

Wikipedia explains the long history of the controversy over this book, which went through some changes, and it is more nuanced than you would think.

Here also is the Wikipedia article on book censorship in the US.

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