The Racist History of Dr. Seuss & What it Means in Today’s Social, Political & Educational Context

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Warning: The images included in this post may be offensive or upsetting to readers

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Education Association’s (NEA) “Read Across America” Day  — an event observed every year on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It is the largest celebration of reading in America, with over 45 million students, parents, teachers, libraries and community centers participating. Dr. Seuss books and activities are central to the annual celebration — schools have Dr. Seuss-themed festivals, eat “green eggs and ham”, and get dressed up as their “favorite Dr. Seuss character”. The NEA sells Dr. Seuss merchandise through their website, and kids across America will be seen wearing the red and white striped hats from the book, The Cat in the Hat.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka “Dr. Seuss,” has sold over 600 million copies of his books and is a widely celebrated and beloved children’s book author. Most people in America, and even globally (Dr. Seuss books are translated into 20 languages), know of his classic titles. What it not as well known (or acknowledged), is his work publishing racist and xenophobic political cartoons.


From 1941-43, Seuss was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper, PM, and used this highly-influential platform to create propaganda dehumanizing, stereotyping and even vilifying people of color.

Dr. Seuss repeatedly depicted Africans and African-Americans as monkeys. In fact, his cartoons only depict Black people as monkeys. This cartoon he made for “Judge” Magazine in 1929 was up for auction in 2015 for $20,000 and has African American men up for sale with a sign reading: “Take Home A High Grade N*gger For Your Wood Pile.”


Africans and African Americans were not the only targets of Seuss’s racism. Seuss’s political propaganda against the Japanese propelled anti-Japanese paranoia at a critical time in American history during World War II. He branded all people of Japanese-descent as anti-American and depicted Japanese and Japanese-Americans as categorically evil. The exaggerations and sensationalism he used in these cartoons were known as “Yellow Journalism” and preceded the 1942 & 1944-45 U.S. Air Force firebombing of Tokyo, killing 100,000 and leaving over 1 million homeless; the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 300,000 Japanese people from the blast and radiation; and, Executive Order 9066 of 1942, which incarcerated 120,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps across the US. In fact, six days before Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to systematically round up and incarcerate all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, Dr. Seuss published this cartoon depicting all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast as a dangerous, monolithic threat:

Dr. Seuss was very clear that he supported the killing and mass incarceration of Japanese and Japanese-Americans, and influenced the American public to this effect. And as a reminder, not one of the 120,000 incarcerated Japanese-Americans were ever found guilty of sabotage or treason. His racism towards Asians was not isolated to his political cartoons. He made statements about it and is quoted by his biographer, Richard H. Minear, as saying, “If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs.” It was even incorporated into his early children’s books. In his first book, And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, he references a “Yellow-faced Chinaman who eats with sticks.” Here are some (of the many) examples of his anti-Japanese cartoons. He consistently used the term “Japs” and depicts the Japanese with buck teeth, slanted eyes and pig snouts.

Arabs were also subject to problematic stereotyping. Arab men are depicted as camel-riding nomads or sultans and Arab women as hyper-sexualized harems.

This was in contrast to the way he depicted Germans. Of German descent himself, Seuss showed sympathy to Germans and focused his critique on German leaders.

Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991, never addressed the damage done by his racist works specifically, nor issued any form of direct or explicit apology. Some suggest that his book “Horton Hears a Who!”, with the message “a person’s a person no matter how small!” is an apologetic “allegory” the damage done by his World War II propaganda. However, this remains conjecture and is ultimately, an attempt to justify Seuss’s racism.

The problem with attempting to defend, rationalize, or sweep the racism Dr. Seuss espoused under the rug — is that it condones the very real implications those kind of narratives had (and continue to have) on oppressed groups. The surge in racism and xenophobia since the election has had a devastating impact on our youth and schools. In a survey of over 10,000 educators since the election, 90% reported that their school climate has been negatively impacted, 80% reported heightened anxiety and concern amongst students of color about the impact of the election on their families; and over 2,500 said they knew of “fights, threats, assaults and other incidents that could be traced directly to election rhetoric”. Beyond impacting our student’s ability to engage in school, discrimination, fear and loss of safety affects our student’s life trajectories. What message is being sent when we ask them to celebrate a man with a well documented history of reinforcing this same type of hate and division against people of color? How is it shaping their perceptions of what is racially acceptable and normalized? How will it impact their future engagement with reading and books?

We are a nation still entrenched with violent anti-Black bias, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia. If we are serious about addressing the surge in hate speech and hate crimes in our schools and communities, and fostering safe, inclusive spaces, we need to be critical of the content we are introducing and the people we are choosing to celebrate. The NEA represents 3 million educators in every state and asserts that “public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society.” If the NEA is truly committed to building respect for our youth — all of our youth — then shift the focus of Read Across America Day away from Dr. Seuss. Reading is infinitely powerful and full of possibilities. Let’s unlock its full potential by associating it with diverse authors and illustrators whose lives and work are dedicated to honoring, reflecting, and empowering the rich diversity of our children, communities, nation and world.

Source: Conscious Kid|| By Katie Ishizuka-Stephens


  1. Wow. I’m a high school history teacher from Dr. Seuss’ hometown, Springfield, Massachusetts. I thought I’d done my research. I teach the anti-Japanese cartoons in my classes and the difference between his portrayal of Germans and Japanese. There are several cartoons from PM that encourage desegregation in war industry and like the Hitler one shown, compare the Holocaust to the treatment of African Americans in this country. I had never seen those ads before, though, and kind of wish I hadn’t so I could remain in my ignorance. It’s hard to read his books and imagine these images came from the same person who wrote The Sneetches. I’m feeling really disappointed in our hometown hero. There’s a museum currently being built about him- I hope it doesn’t leave this part of his life out.

    • “I had never seen those ads before, though, and kind of wish I hadn’t so I could remain in my ignorance”. Ms Catherine that’s a very ignorant comment to make. The world isn’t a little bubble where we get to pick and choose things without totality. The younger generation deserves to know the whole truth and as an educator, that’s what you SHOULD be teaching them if at all possible. Theodor Suess Giesel was a White Supremacist similar to Walt Disney. That’s their real legacy that the media likes to hide from us all.

      • No, I think that was a very enlightened comment. Catherine is not shying away from the very real problem posed by these works. All the “kind of wish” seems to be saying is that it is hard to process. If you re-read her post I think you’ll see that. I too “kind of wish” I could live my life in ignorance – it would be so much easier in so many ways. But I try not to.

      • Wow Afro-CAN, way to take one part of a whole comment out of context and make it something that it’s not. Have you read the rest of the comment? It’s a very brave thing to admit you are sad to discover something bad about your hero, and it’s even braver to change your mind almost immediately after that revelation as the OP has done. Please try to be a little more understanding of people’s feelings, the world is not a bubble where we get to pick and choose things with totality either, not everything is black and white, people are complex emotional beings, not machines that change without struggle when confronted with new information.

        • Actually don’t think Afro-Can
          is being too hard on that point. If you haven’t seen I am not your negro by James Baldwin you really should the movie/ documentary. Because part of the problem is white people do in fat get to pick and choose what they see and don’t see what they know and don’t know. It is in fact possible for a white person to retreat into a white bubble of life that does not include other people suffering or knowledge of how things happen and that’s a choice. So it may be uncomfortable to hear and what the original poster was saying was not meant in a negative way but it was a Freudian slip to use an analogy. And this is the problem that way people can live their entire lives ignorant of other people’s pain and experience. I think there’s a line from I’m not your negro that says they can be born and live and die in that dream the dream that people of color can never access. So yeah it may have been a throwaway line by the poster but it gets to the heart of the problem we still have in the United States and around the world. White supremacy allows a sort of blissful ignorance.

            • Exactly. As a black woman, that comment could have come from me. Especially the part, about hoping that this is part of the museum. She was already doing more than most and educating children about the flaws, ignorance and racism of the “local hero.” Now you (another poster)want her to go to the museum and fight for the truth to be told. They should share their plans …a petition, plans to visit the museum …

              I should never read the comments.

            • Looking at some of you why are you so easily distracted? I believe if you had a student that got off track like what I’ve read you would be concerned.

        • Black are the only real humans white and asians come from Neanderthals. So why would whites want us to believe we we’re 3/5 humans when indeed they are. Lol. That’s hilariously objective. Dr. Seuss was a jealous envious person to the truth

          • DC Bass,

            When you look in the mirror, do you ever think to yourself: What else can I say that is ridiculously awful and casts myself in the worst possible light to show my basic ignorance and venality?

      • As Matt said, her comment is not ignorant at all. I wish daily I could “live in ignorance” of the everyday political and sociological issues America faces. I would surely be happier and less stressed out. But that is an entirely hypothetical situation, as was Catherine’s. I believe you’re just looking for something to be offended by, because I knew what she meant immediately.

      • I understand your disappointment in her statement fully. However, I share her sentiment that sometimes you wish you didn’t know know….it allows you to believe that there is still good in the world…I agree with you that now that you do know , what you do with your information is now paramount!

      • Gee, I wonder if all the Afro-Americans/Blacks (as you prefer) wish they could live in an bubble of fairy tales with respect to MLK, Jr, who was unquestionably a great man, who was instrumental in advancing Civil Rights in this country, but who was also a philandering adulterer? That’s not conjecture, that’s fact. Is that fact readily accepted by Blacks or is it swept under the rug? Do you wish you didn’t know that about the man? Would it be preferable to not know that information, so that you could hold him in higher regard? I fully realize that cheating on your spouse – even multiple times, is not on par with dehumanizing an entire race of people, but the point of the example holds true, regardless. So just stop judging people for being honest enough to state that they wish they didn’t know painful truths, ESPECIALLY when they READILY acknowledge the painful truth of their “hero” and DO accept it and incorporate it into their reality, b/c it’s only a “bubble” if they don’t. And EVERYONE has “bubbles” of their own making – even you, regardless your race, your gender, your station in life. You aren’t God, so stop pretending you are and keep the judgments focused on yourself. When you pull the plank out your own eye, then you can endeavor to remove the splinter from mine.

        • I don’t care about his extracurricular activities, they have nothing to do with civil rights…..He could have screwed all he wanted

        • What does him having sex with other women have to do with anything?????? He was about civil rights and thats like us hating our father’s, grandfathers, etc. ??? whhhhhhyyyyyyy…..

        • Mlk being a cheater has nothing to do with his work as an activist! That’s the problem with white people, they always try to compare apple to oranges like his marital activities have anything to do with civil rights! People have the right to live how they choose “until” it affects someone else’s livlihod!
          So maybe now you can see the diff between MLKs cheating and suesss racism! One impacts peoples lives where the other is only self destructive!

          • Really Charles? I know nothing about MLK and his private life with women, but wouldn’t his wife have been directly effected if he was cheating on her? Adultery/Cheating by definition is anything but victimless and self destructive.

        • Blue, for you to use Dr. King’s infidelities as an example to get your point across is truly sad. I work with all affluent rich white men and I am black. I have black male friends, white male friends, asians, and hispanic; they have one thing in common they are all men and they all cheat. If they haven’t yet; the right woman hasn’t approached them yet. Men are all the same; attention and a beautiful woman throwing herself at them is hard for them to resist.

          • Unbelievable… Nice comment stereotyping all men based on your opinion and absolutely no facts. Thank you for being a productive part of this conversation about Dr. Seuss, seriously unbelievable.

        • You Left out the fact that he hated non Black people and did not want US to integrate with eurasians, you left out the fact that he wanted US to boycott all non Black Businesses and keep our money to ourselves! If you are going to speak on the man, ? Then tell the whole story.

        • Honestly, there is not one shred of conclusive proof that Dr. King ever cheated on his wife. The rumors and innuendos created by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI certainly do not constitute objective proof. Even the slanderous accusation made by Ralph Abernathy in his book that Dr. King had cheated on Coretta in Memphis the night before he died was a statement made with no proof, contradicted by others who were with Dr. King in Memphis at the time, not mentioned by such FBI surveillance documents as are available regarding King in Memphis, and made by Dr. Abernathy after King was dead and unable to defend himself. Needless to say, I do not give the accusations any weight whatsoever. There is less evidence of Dr. King’s dallying than there is of John F. Kennedy. Those who repeat these allegations are generally trying to discredit King, and tend to be of two types…white segregationists and supremacists, who oppose King because he was left of center and an integrationist, and Black nationalists and separatists, who see King and his viewpoint as detrimental to their separatist agenda. In either case, it constitutes slander of one of America’s greatest heroes.

      • Look at the world at the end of your pointing finger. If I dug deep enough in sure I could find a racist black man from another time. What kind of biggot would that make you? He’s dead and won’t be offending you any longer. If you feel that way about his writings, don’t read it. I bet even YOU read and enjoyed Dr.Seuss at one time. Don’t be so hasty to display your own ignorance.

      • Saying “that’s their real legacy” is like saying that because Hitler was an artist and painter prior to his political career, his “real” legacy was in art.
        Both Seuss and Disney were flawed men, as are all men. The racism these men exhibited is not the primary reason we remember them, and therefore is not their legacy. We remember Seuss for the critical role he played in educating children, and Disney for his role in entertaining them.

      • Why are you attacking her? Catherine has a right to her opinion and if she wishes she hadn’t seen the ads, why is that a craw in your butt, Afro-can???? She didn’t propose that others should not learn the truth of Seuss or be denied access to his racist work. Nor did she propose she would continue her life or her teaches as if she had never seen them. Did it occur to you that it caused her undue duress??? Honestly, some of you ppl so quick to call someone ignorant are the most ignorant and intolerant of them all.

        • I am a person of color & I’m sitting here hurting a lifeless after finding this information out. I too kind of wish I remained in my ignorance about Dr. Seuss. It’s like loving someone & finding out he cheated on you. . . Yes, I need to know this information but that doesn’t stop it from hurting. I just want to go back to the day before I knew the truth, when we were happy. ?

      • No, her comment wasn’t ignorant your comment was just a very insensitive one. She is saddened to just now learn that her cities hometown hero wasn’t really a hero at all. YOU, being quick to judgment didn’t think of the time it takes to process levels of emotion. I’m sure once she is given time, she will no doubt either make the decision to change her curriculum or, continue to teach as she always has and at that point, you can decide if she is ignorant or not. Now, to comment on the actual topic. I think Dr. Suess was caught up in trying so adamantly to make a living for both himself and his family. This is obviously the work of someone extremely bipolar or, someone wanting to please whoever was willing to pay for his work (Give them what they want).

        • Blue makes a very good point! Lorenzo, though one thing my not directly have anything to do with another, it is still disappointing nonetheless. For example, MLK’s reality… Did you know King plagiarized the “I Have A Dream” speech from one given at the Republican Convention in 1952 given by Archibald J. Carey, Jr., an an African-American lawyer, judge, alderman, diplomat and clergyman from the south side of Chicago. So what do YOU now that do you know? Do you wanna keep your heroes reputation in a “bubble”, or are you going to judge it! Let’s not be so critical of others ppl! Let’s put it this way, for years, I thought eating wheat bread was the best thing for me and my family ( whole grain, organic, etc), until I discovered the TRUTH about wheat, barley, rye, and oats (aka- gluten) It was crushing to say the least and “Yes” I too wished, I didn’t know or better yet, it wasn’t true, but it is & regardless of how I choose to handle this “new found truth”, I am no longer ignorant to its FULL facts; good or bad!

        • I’m bipolar, as are several of my friends, and none of us have sold our souls to racism. A mental illness does not automatically make you evil, and to misuse a diagnosis to prove your point demonizes mentally ill people in a very serious ableist way. Discriminating against a marginalized group on an article about the discrimination of other marginalized groups is kind of obscene, you know?

      • I’m a black educated woman and I did not find Catherine’s comments out of line at all I understand what she is saying disillusionment can be hurtful at times

      • Well, the 1929 to ’45 cartoons by
        Dr. Seuss are horrifying.
        No fixing that.

        The author of the article is dismissive of any Seussian change of heart, or of the idea of “Horton Hears a Who” being partly an apology…claiming she found no evidence of a connection…evidence I found in less than 5 minutes Google search and reading.

        Horton Hears a Who, and the story of the Sneetches…are both strongly and unambiguosly about human rights and honoring/celebrating diversity.
        Horton was written after a long working tour of Japan during which Geisel met with school children and worked with them on creative projects about who they wanted to grow up to be. He dedicated his book to his newfound friend, Japanese educator Nakamura.

        People grow, and learn, if they are willing. It is arguably what we are here for. Horton is a powerful story, and definitely is to some degree about Japan, and absolutely about honoring life, even when we may not understand a culture, or have peer support in that struggle. I hope people will continue to seek and publish the truth…and I think a careful reading of Dr. Seuss’ main works gives ample evidence of a commitment away from prejudice, divisiveness, and harm.

        • With the help of Mitsugi Nakamura, dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Seuss went to schools all over Japan and asked kids to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up. What Seuss saw made a deep impression, and when he returned to America, he started work on Horton Hears A Who! The book is dedicated Nakamura. He said in an interview, “Japan was just emerging, the people were voting for the first time, running their own lives—and the theme was obvious: ‘A person’s a person, no matter how small,’ though I don’t know how I ended up using elephants.” – See more at:

        • Thank you, for this comment! People are too quick to demonize each other these days instead of appreciate the good or recognize a change of heart!

        • Great comment and I agree exactly. We do grow and change, and it’s usually real exposure to the people we are vilifying that causes that change. Only God knows what transpired in Seuss’s heart before he left this earth and we are not his judges. Yes, his earlier work must be known and shown for what it is, but the whole story is found in the full spectrum of his work, and that very much includes the latter.

        • Let us realize that Dr. Seuss in his time, helped to form, maintain and spread negative stereotypes of targeted groups of humans in his ‘former’ publications. That was demeaning and painful, then and it, with historical identification and application, it continues to hurt the people who were so negatively described by him and others. Signs of present graphic karma, presented in this article are still painful to the descendants of the same earlier generations of the people who he negatively described and spread such seriously unbecoming and still prevalent stereotypical literature. It is said that we need to forget and believe me with the best of unhealthy suppression of memories in our DNA, we try. But present circumstances, most often not initiated by us, dramatically and experientially remind us that the stereotypes are still reaping (believe me) ‘untold’ havoc. Despite the, continued damage and pain, realized, by his/our karma, in this revelation about the truth of his celebrated literature(even by me in my childhood), Dr. Seuss, according to the post by Petroglyph (above),indicated that he might have re-oriented himself to some degree and produced some redeeming allegories. I am glad to think that he reached for more humane heights in his personal growth. We can all change if we want to. We certainly need to….all of us.

          • I would like to support Mr Bennetts views by mentioning two of Suess classics.One fish two fish,red fish,blue fish and more importantly Green eggs and ham!!Hope all spelling and grammar used in this post shall be deemed acceptable to those that choose to read it!respectfully submitted to all! Thank YOU.

        • This comment line was so off course. Thank you for bringing it back on track. I am slightly heartened that dr. Seuss had a relivation that everone matters. Even if it was Horton and the Who. As for the nit picking spellers. Meh

      • Your opinion of her comment – “ignorant.” I hope you read the full comment. One definition of ignorant -“lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact.” I read that article and grateful for the knowledge which is what tha other poster alluded to by saying she hopes that it is part of the museum. I’m also dishearten by the information which is what the reader in my opinion was trying to convey. I grew up on Dr. Suess. I looked forward to sharing it with my soon to be child which I no longer feel comfortable with.

      • The term “eat your own” comes to mind. Here we have a person who AGREES that the cartoon depictions are vile and abhorrent, and advocates for ALL of the good AND the bad to be included in collections about Seuss’ life… but instead of accepting that, instead of acknowledging the commonality, there always has to be that 1 person who goes on the attack simply because 1 thing was said differently than they would have said. And this, people, is why racism has not effectively been addressed. Too much infighting and squabbling over exactly how something should or should not have been said. A 99% win isn’t enough.
        When I see people from different backgrounds and cultures coming together to renounce inflammatory and destructive rhetoric or depictions — no matter how they decide to express their similar viewpoint — I see a win!

        • In all lives and in all people there are days and maybe even years we would like to forget or wish had never happened. No one here knows Theodore Geisel’s heart, nor do you know if the cartoons were drawn to criticize the politics or accept them. Maybe they were drawn to accuse those who were wrong. No, this is not a defense of him. It is a comment written to help some think. If we truly want to crucify Theodore Geisel you might look into his erotic cartoons as well. He is not without a past and yet he has helped many children learn how to read.

      • Lol. We are all literally living in a bubble. No one is all knowing and thus ignorant of what we are unaware of until we become aware of it. That how the world works. You are in a bubble of the things you are aware of unless you know everything. Lol

      • I think her last sentence pretty much completely negates your comment, and I believe she was more lamenting disillusionment than advocating for covering this up.

      • I am an African-American female who feels the same way as the teacher you are criticizing, I wish I didnt know Dr. Seuss was racist because it does ruin the children’s stories and books I grew up reading and have read to my son since he was in my womb. Wishing you could be shielded from the world’s ugly truths is just that, a wish. The teacher ended her comment with hoping the new museum being built in his honor shows the ugly side, the stuff we wished we hadn’t seen, I think that should clearly say the “side” she is on if we are taking sides at all in this matter. You are not seeing the forest for the trees if all you heard was ignorance is bliss.

        • Ignorance is bliss people. You can’t fault the lady for expressing wishing everything was still blissful. It is obvious from her comment that she is no longer ignorant of the situation and want Suess WHOLE story told in his museum

      • sarcasm sarcasm, why can’t more be fluent in sarcasm. Obviously she agrees this should be known about Sues or she wouldn’t had said she hopes they don’t leave this part out in the museum..!!! And everything else she wrote that pointed the same direction. Why cant you understand! So frustrating! Why try to pick a fight when nothing like what you are trying to say was even said. It’s called sarcasm! You’re not suppose to take sarcasm literally, K. everyone loves Sues we grew up w his books just like everyone loves Cosby! People just don’t like knowing something so horrible about their childhood heroes k get it?!???? you don’t know what it’s like in other people’s shoes, so stop thinking everyone life is so much easier than yours, hater

      • She isn’t trying to hide it. I think you misunderstood. She was saying finding this information about Dr. Suess is disappointing. Dr. Suess’works, what we grew up learning of him, are innocent and fun. She saying she is unable to have this view while looking at his works anymore. Her end statement was she can’t look at her home town hero the same way and she hopes they don’t leave this part of his past out when they build the museum celebrating him. Read it again

      • I think Catherine is like many of us. We wish there was a part of the racist past that has not tainted memories of many of our beloved hero, artist, stars, politicians, clergy, or many leaders for that matter. However the more

      • Its not ignorant at all.
        Imagine anyone that you have respected falling off the pedestal.
        You might indeed wish you didnt know that. Now she didnt say hide the new info did she. NO, she said she hoped the new museum would include it.

      • Wow, unbelievable to read all of the critics bash Catherine, who was simply and honestly sharing how she feels. I guess if you guys learned the truth about Hitler, you would just roll over and DIE!

      • I think you missed the facetiousness of miss Catherine’s comments! It is very sad when we become aware of shortcomings in an idealized person. I know I will never read another of dr seuss’s wonderful books without remembering with sadness what a racist pig he was!

      • Perhaps you stopped reading Catherine’s comment too soon and missed this:
        “There’s a museum currently being built about him- I hope it doesn’t leave this part of his life out.”

      • What people of the current generation often fail to realize, or take into consideration, is that the 1930’s and 1940’s were a different time. People like Dr. Suess and Walt Disney weren’t racists or White supremacists. They were fairly average for the time. There were Klu Klux Klansmen and the like back then, but most White people had a world view that placed them above other races. During the war, “Japs” were the enemy, and Blacks were segregated. There were still people who had first hand experience with slavery and the Civil War. Look at how Hollywood treated minorities. Ever see how Blacks were portrayed in an old Tarzan movie? We have come a long way since then. There were and still are KKK and other racists and bigots, but I would bet you that, if Suess and Disney were Alive today, they would have progressed in their attitudes, along with the rest of the country. Look at Disney’s company today, being applauded (and attacked) for portraying a Gay relationship with an onscreen kiss in a current movie. It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that an interracial kiss was allowed on TV…Thanks to Capt.Kirk and Lt.Uhura on Star Trek. Theres a thing called “perspective” that many of us seem to lack, especially when it comes to viewing history. Don’t be so quick to condemn all of our historical heroes, judging them by our current standards.

      • Afro-Can, perhaps you didn’t read Catherine’s comment in its entirety. She spoke of the need to shed light on the dark side of Dr. Seuss and not have his racist past hidden in the shadows. Everyone has had a hero let them down & despite the growth we achieve from that experience, we romanticize the days of our youthful ignorance. Her comment is very true to life & tangible

      • Why don’t you read “Come over to my house” by Theo LeSieg AKA Dr Seuss. There you will see a true genius and man of the world using his talent to teach and unite all the children of the world regardless of race, religion etc. Dr Seuss misused his talent to malign Japanese during WWII. So what? There were people building bombs in factories that did a lot more damage. The black people cartoons are in poor taste. I think he more than made up for it in the book I have mentioned. Read it.

      • “The world isn’t a little bubble where we get to pick and choose things without totality. The younger generation deserves to know the whole truth and as an educator, that’s what you SHOULD be teaching them if at all possible.”

        … But whistles past the graveyard as Confederate Monuments are removed from New Orleans

    • Dear Afro-can. I find your reply to Catherine terribly rude. She is making a comment, she is expressing her disappointment. She is no defending “her bubble” which by the way all of us have.
      I´m a school librarian for 2 public elementary schools and I did not know this. I´m very grateful for the information and I´ll work hard for next year Read Across America.

      • How nice it must to even have the option to live in ignorance. To even have the choice. That’s what AfroCAN was trying to say. The fact that you ALL. defended Catherine’s statement and said that you too, wish you could remain ignorant, is truly disgusting. Privileged, even. How nice it must be to have the option.

        • Great points. Listen to black voices and really think through the message rather than crumble under your own, white discomfort.

        • Wow. Maybe if you all moved beyond her statement of wishing to remain in ignorance you’d see the part where she mentions a museum being built in his honour and how she HOPES THEY DON’T IGNORE this part of his history. Seems like y’all are picking and choosing what you want to read in Catherine’s statement.

        • Oh my goodness. Really. Posters are so busy finding fault with a comment and name calling to have a real discussion. If the org poster wanted to live in ignorance they would not have read the article. I found out something about the orgination of the Nation of Islam which I found shocking and grateful knowing but had a moment like I would like to think the foundation wasn’t tainted by some facts in history. Which privevlege am I living in when I say “dang, sure hate I had to know that but glad I do now and I hope others know.”

    • You say you are a history teacher and from that you are from Dr Seuss’ hometown. You also say they are building a museum there to honor him and his work, perhaps as an educator you could also become an activist and do what you can to help make sure this racist part of his pass doesn’t get left out of that museum, for educational sake

      • People give advice so they can feel important, so they can come from a place of superiority, not because they actually give a sht. You could also do that, Woody, become an activist and make sure the museum is historically honest. I’m sure you’re a good person, I just can’t stand unsolicited advice.

    • Hello Catherine, I too was unaware of that info and those facts. You wrote in your above comment that you are a history teacher and that you are from Dr Seuss’ hometown. You also wrote that they are building a museum there, to honor him and his work, perhaps as an educator, you could also become an activist, and do what you can to help make sure this racist part of his pass doesn’t get left out of that museum, or history, for education’s sake!

    • I agree….totally shocked but not surprised. I am seeing more and more how creative intities use their artistry to push their adjenda…their idealsabiut society, degrading a group of people, getting a group to feel some sort of inferior way about another…and the young are the targets. The earlier you plant those racial seeds, the more damage their fruit can do.

    • I thought about “The Sneetches”, too.
      It’s hard to fathom that the author of that book could be so racist.

    • Lol white supremacy. Suess/Giesel was just reflecting racial relations of the time. Nothing more. Nothing less. I mean, I don’t support these sentiments in 2017, but to say something said almost 100 years ago is it to be had as modern hear-and-say is laughable at best. I respect the Dr. for everything he’s done, and this will not tarnish that. I expect every person of notoriety to have some dark secrets, and this isn’t even “that” bad. Was he depersonalizing Africans? Yes. Was he putting them down? No. It’s obviously these are several adds he drew for Flit bug spray and you want it to be more. Calm down and look at actual problems. Do you think because this man drew some(awful) portraits of Africans poorly and historically that he is to be crucified? C’mon now, the guy who dented your car and drove away has done more damage to your life than the lovely Seuss has. Stop crying and back up SOMETHING you have to say. CAT IN THE HAT FTW

      • Your lack of understanding and sensitivity to the real effects of white supremacy are on full display here. Not that bad? Really? My mother who is a nurse had to walk into a home of of a client in 2012 filled with the same racist iconography you see here by the oft lauded Dr. Suess. My mother grew up seeing whites only signs. Her eldest sister played with those four little girls blown up in a Birmingham Alabama church. You have no idea the effect that this imagery still has on people all these years later. This is not poorly drawn portraits, this is and was the dehumanization of people solely based on racism and white supremacy. Your argument makes no sense, how can you “depersonalize” a group of people without putting them down? This was sooooo much more than a put down. But we are used to people whitewashing history. I hope that his racists cartoons are displayed just as prominently as the rest of his works.

        • I hope that Al Sharpton’s and others in your face racist agenda’s are so put out there as well. Do the Jews CONSTANTLY look for shit to bring up DAILY? No they don’t.’ Let’s talk about all the CURRENT racial interactions when folks are out beating the hell out of white voters. BUT that don’t matter to y’all. You’re always fucking owed something.

          • The Jews have received reparations apologies museums,constant recognitions while African Americans have received the likes of you. We have been told repeatedly to get over it while every other race that has been ill-treated by this country in one way or the other has been apologized to and treated like the victims they were. Do you realized from approximately 1882 thru 1968 4, 473 African American were lynched in this country and nobody has been held accountable? Nor has anyone felt it necessary to even want to talk about it. Not looking for anything but, I would say that something is owed.

          • As a Jew I would like to point out that Jews also do this, because if we remain in the dark about any organized hatred, it is allowed to fester and grow stronger. That you hear about it more from Blacks might have something to do with the fact that there are five times as many Blacks in this country as Jews. But pick up a copy of the Report on World Jewry, which contains a summary of both positive and negative news involving Jews.

            And by the way, I read blogs of similar information concerning gays and atheists.

          • You seem very ignorant. .. out of every comment I’ve read .. you sir .. seem to be the dumbest .. I could be wrong .. but what the hell

          • Paolo Salvatore, you sound like you just arrived in this country. No one who has been here for a minute, and knows the history of this Nation could possibly verbalize what you just did in your post. My guess is that you have about as much immigrant blood in you as do most of those who claim to be pure White. Blacks, and you should know this, have been the pillar and trademark of all races to come to this country. We should be apologized to, but we have been here long enough to not expect it. The courage of Blacks to fight for what is theirs has given substance and strength to every other race wanting the same. Do your homework Paolo, and stop trying to say Whites are “owed” anything. If anything… they need to have a heart to “give” back some of what they “took.”

        • Let’s be honest, most white Americans were racists on some level at that time. It was all the “rage”. Polling back then showed overwhelming that people thought segregation was just fine. Clearly, Suess went the distance on being piece of garbage though.

      • If you think depersonalizing someone isn’t putting them down…there is a big issue. Depersonalizing is the foundation of ethnic genocide. It is not something to “get over”…this is what results in building walls…detaining human beings in airports…removing people with Brian tumors from hospitals where critical hospital care is needed. I am so disappointed in Dr. Seuss and will NEVER pick up a book written by him for my 6 year old again

        • Read “Come over to my house” by Theo LeSieg and you will instantly change your mind. Maybe you could forgive him for his earlier work? I’m sure you have grown as a human being and improved and even made mistakes. Maybe you could grant Dr Seuss the same humanity you think he lacked when he was younger and needed the money and there was a nasty war going on.

      • This does not make sense. If he was just depicting racial relation of that time then he would not have drawn the African Americans as monkeys. He would have drawn colored people. Also he would not have said that in order for America to win, they need “to kill the japs.” Also, why did he not write any books with a message that states that racism should be put to an end. I feel like you didn’t take time out to understand what you read. I wonder if you read the whole artical. Or may you are just in denial. He was racist just like the majority of whites during that time. Admit it.

        • But he died in 1991. If he had children or grandchildren, he could have espoused these views to them, and they are living today. So although it was a different time, we are not far removed from the effect they can have or the fact that they can be passed down and still fester in present day society.

        • That’s all well and good if only these kind of thoughts did not still exist in the world…Racism is very real and very much surface. It is not a sentiment of a by gone age. It’s today, right now, current…

      • I will not dismiss Dr. Seuss’ racism because it was common at the time. There were many many of his white contemporaries who did not share his racism. He decided to be a racist…anytime anything is written or photographed and circulated, it is timeless. Therefore, it has the ability to not only impact the author/artist, but the public at large.

      • As a white teacher, and a mom who read Hop on Pop and Fox in Sox a gazillion times, I am pleading with all white people who love Dr. Seuss to acknowledge that this IS “that bad”. We have a moral obligation to educate ourselves about what roles our heroes and role models have played in upholding white supremacy and we HAVE to work consciously and tirelessly to dismantle it. Learning how to reconcile evil in your heroes with an appreciation for their art is another challenge for another day. Maybe.

      • Racism is not merely stupid, it is, unfortunately, terribly dangerous.

        To belittle entire groups of people because of a few leads people to war and other crimes against humanity.

        Attack the source of wrong-headed attitudes, not the people themselves. They bleed red and are just as human as you are.

        If you claim Christ, remember what He said regarding the treatment of the Other. He made NO exceptions to that. He added no adjectives to separate. We are to treat others as we ourselves desire to be treated and that includes ALL others. The fact is that humanity has not reached high enough to live out His teaching and the result is hate-mongering and chaos.

    • I agree. If I had never known this….. Seems there is always a dark side to something good. Just maybe he tried to make up with children’s books for his “other” side of climbing his career ladder.

    • I too agree with the lady…I am a 60 yrs. old Urban male and have read Dr. Suess since I can remember, and to think that now after all of this time there was a racist-dark undertone is saddening and a shock. The later works do not reflect those views and have brought many smiles to faces of many Colors. The former was sad, sick and ill-informed. However, the truth hurts…it must be told because this can only help our tomorrow’s

    • One thing that stands out to me in reading the comments is people are assuming readers are either white or black. In ranking a deplorable hierarchy between blowing up a race with TNT, lynching a religious group, or the trafficking of human beings based on their appearance, I cannot pick which one I am most offended by. Each makes me sick and alarmed. When you are of mixed descent, your parents were of mixed descent, and your grandparents were of mixed descent, you find yourself left out of the discussion and often defending someone or a group that you personally don’t self-identify with. When you show up to a job interview with almond shaped eyes that are blue/green, hair that is straightish yet stands straight up, and skin tone darker than half the black people you know, you get two reactions. One is conflicted and the other doesn’t care. When asked to check the race boxes, when I see “African American” and I ask “Tunisian” I’m told that’s not what they are asking. This comment comes from whites and blacks alike. When I see “Asian American” and I ask “Punjab” and “Mongolian,” I’m told the question wants to know if you are “Chinese.” For Native American, you should only check that box when you are registered with a USA tribe. I’m not. Something that stands out to me is the assertion all/most white people were at one time racist. This is not true and the movie “Ten Years a Slave” accurately conveys this message. With that said, white folks need to be the first to stand against racism, religious persecution, DAPL, and discrimination in this country. My wife is also of mixed decent. She is an Apache, Peruvian Inca, Irish, Mexican American. I add the American part, because her Mexican ancestors never crossed the border. The border crossed them (a Dolores Huerta quote.) For our children, my son was bullied at school in the 1990’s for being Iranian, our middle daughter is regularly complemented on her looks and asked which of her parents is Chinese, and my youngest daughter, a college student in Arizona, never leaves her dorm without her passport. This article on Dr. Seuss was enlightening. It also reminded me of a family experience. In 2003 my daughter was in the sixth grade and attending summer school. In her class, she was to write a biography on someone she admired and she picked Kobe Bryant. As a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan, this was hard for me to accept, yet I supported her decision and education. The day after she handed in her first draft the Kobe Bryant sexual assault was reported front headline in the news. She was too far along in her paper to change and could not ignore the current event. In having to explain to her the meaning of sexual assault, why the woman’s neck was bruised, and marital infidelity, we found ourselves as parents in a really awkward uncomfortable situation. Following our “American” cultural assumption that you are innocent until proven guilty, she turned in her paper with Kobe as the subject although it was an honest narrative rather than one of glowing hero worship. To this day, she still roots for the Lakers and as a mother, she sees Kobe as a great basketball player and flawed human being. This characterizes my feelings about Dr. Seuss. I can appreciate his children’s books. I do not respect his life choices and politics. My son, who has exceeded my expectations in every way, attributed a lot of his success post graduate from the book “Oh, The Places You Will Go,” that his uncle gifted him as a child. Inspired by the book, Yes. Inspired by the author, Never. To Catherine, take a stand. Please ensure the Seuss museum includes a wing on his xenophobic work. You owe it to our children and in all likelihood, you in an awkward uncomfortable way will reconcile the conflict.

      • Hmm. It is unfortunate if they leave it out. Of course, if upon researching this they happen to find that Seuss later repented his racist past and worked to do what he could to fix it, then they could surely day that in his defense. But there is a difference between honoring the fact that someone repented misdeeds versus pretending that the misdeeds never occurred.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, injust picked up two of his books to give to my son, I loved them as a kid. Someone else’s mentioned, h fortunately they have both done their damage. But they’re both death and can’t rectify and mistakes they’ve made.

    • Of course they will. They will only highlight his non-prejudicial highlights of his career…SMH. I wish I hadn’t read this either.

    • MAKE SURE THEY DON’T LEAVE OUT THE WHOLE TRUTH OF THIS RACIST. Make them aware, and start a letter writing campaign.

    • Catherine I commend you for saying what you said and please forgive and ignore Afri-CAN nothing you said was inappropriate in the least it was heartfelt yeah you think you’ve found out the worst in life then it gets just a little bit more colder but if we all do something to help or change it for the good then it’s not in vain. Thank you for educating others Catherine.

    • Im with you. Sometimes it’s easier to remain ignorant to these things. The books are something that many children grew up on (and will continue to be read in te future). It’s really sad to learn something so innocent came from such a nasty person.

    • I find these images disturbing as well. Catherine, do you think Dr. Seuss was appealing to a racist marketplace in terms of the ads, but at the same time, was critiquing racism such as segregation in the army, and cartoons seeing the Holocaust as the same injustice as the treatment of black Americans? What do you think?
      Also, where can you view these cartoons arguing for desegregation in the army, and that the Holocaust was similar to the injustice and treatment experienced by black Americans? I think of The Sneetches, published in 1961, which I think critiqued segregation and the treatment of African Americans, and he was a correspondent for I think, Life magazine, in Japan. He dedicated Horton Hears A Who to a Japanese friend.
      Do you think he had a change of heart? I think there is more to the story.
      I think of the cartoon with Jewish people hanging from trees, and Hitler down below, not looking disturbed. I see it as a direct reference to the disturbing act of lynching that was seen as acceptable. This was clearly, not just injustice, but an example of a Holocaust experienced by black people, as many African Americans died because of slavery, and the repercussions afterwards. There is something to it.
      Anyway, I do think that this part of his career should be talked about. Was he trying to assuage the business side by making these racist ads, while at the same time, trying to further an anti-racism philosophy, and policies such as desegregation in the army?
      I’m not saying that what he did was right. Maybe, it was hypocritical in approach. I think this side of his work–the racist cartoons–should be focussed on in schools to give a more balanced approach in terms of teaching Dr. Seuss’ works.
      Catherine, I would like to know what you think. Have a good day. Bye for now.

    • It is good to learn the truth. However, understanding, and interpreting the truth should not be left to those with a negative personal agenda. If we could reach into people’s minds and extract their true feelings, then banish or ostracize those who we today feel are unworthy, we would alter “ourstory” in unknown ways. I agree this information should be a part of any museum aimed at adults, but not to the youngest children. I also think showing these works totally out of context is dishonest to the core. People who are honest need to admit that most of us have not led spotless lives. When a person needs money, maybe they draw the cartoon their boss orders them to draw? If his personal feelings where indeed hateful, then there seems to be a major story of epiphany – what changed in him? That he never addressed these issues to many critic’s satisfaction belies the realities of the business world. If he felt like speaking about it, did he feel he would be treated fairly, or perhaps black listed himself? Would you fault the man for refusing to commit what he may have believed to be financial/professional suicide? Maybe you would, but I don’t. I see this as common lesson delivered by a very uncommon man – people are both black and white, and sometimes wrong and sometimes right. And when we do things we learn are wrong, we need to sing a different song. We can’t undue what has been done, but we can do better from now on!

    • Interesting! Alan Dershowitz threatens to leave the Democratic Party. Netanyahu openly slights President Obama in front of Congress and the world. Farrakahn is anathema to the whole Jewish state but no corollary response or apology to Black America for Dr.Seuss. Perhaps Charles Lindbergh and Donald Trump knew something that is inherent in racism that enjoins the lamb to become the lion when political opportunity knocks as honesty and integrity go headlong out the window. Makes one wonder what was found in the “Dead Sea Scrolls” and why those findings have not been shared with the world. Up, yet may be down!! And speaking of “racist history,”how many “cattle-prods” did Minister Farrakahn supply the apartheid South African government? One cannot cure cancer if afraid to look for it! No…revisionist explanations of history are a disservice to both the victor and the vanquished.

    • Smh it’s sad because i grew up reading doctor seuss.I was telling my boyfriend that my kids dont know anything about him but now im happy they dont…

    • You make sure it doesn’t! You spread the truth as hard as you did the unknown cover up. Clearly, he’s very racist!

    • I used to work in Springfield also and have always admired Dr. Seuss. I love the children’s books with all the pictures and rhymes. I am very sad and disappointed to read about this.d

    • We can all learn from our mistakes or wrong thinking-smart people do better once they know better! Thank God for all of us that Dr Suess “did better”-that has benefited so many-young and old!

    • Love your relevant thoughts….glad someone is discussing their thoughts on the subject at hand and not just showing off their grammar and spelling skills 😉
      I am horrified at the antisemetic cartoon…that’s gross!!! Hmmm I will not be passing DR Seuss stuff on as heirlooms…this is so sad, but can we use this information to teach our kids values, love, and kindness in a world that does not always do so? Or will we use this forum as a platform to criticize others? It seems to me, small people push themselves up by pushing others down. This does not breed a society of honor and grace.

  2. I don’t think that “Dr. Seuss’s” racist cartoons should be suppressed. They expertly capture the attitudes of their time. While racism may be no less influential today, Seuss’s images are so extreme and dated that their impact on today’s viewers, especially today’s children, will be the opposite of that Seuss intended. The cartoons can be valuable for instructing students. The internment of families identified as Japanese and the “whites only” public facilities come across as obsolete curiosities to our younger people, as if they Can’t Happen Here… but the blatantly racist images and messages produced by Dr. Seuss can bring home the reality much more effectively than an abstract description of seemingly bygone events and attitudes. This stuff will turn stomachs, and that is exactly what it should be allowed to do.

    • Suppressing them would only perpetuate the ignorance. All truth in history should be in the public realm. It’s the only way the mistakes of the past will be recognised as such and may be the only way they can be avoided. It’s a popular saying that history repeats itself, but I think it’s true because the real history is not well known.

    • I find these images less shocking than some younger people might because these memes, to borrow a current term, were so common when I was young. They’re quite familiar. They appeared in all kinds of publications and in children’s cartoons. Dr. Seuss was one of many illustrators who used this kind of standard imagery. The Flit ads appeared in popular publications as Flit was a commonly available insecticide. I don’t miss this kind of blatantly racist imagery, which had become repugnant to a growing number of Americans by the 1960s. I do think it’s useful to resurrect these cartoons and even to connect them with a beloved writer and illustrator because they’re a reminder of where we’ve been as a nation and where we may return if we’re not careful. This is what passed for humor 75 years ago. Its return is not inconceivable. In fact they remind me very much of what Charlie Hebdo produces, and what people were willing to overlook when their offices were bombed a few years ago.

    • I agree. I think this side of his work–the racist cartoons should be a part of the larger discussion of what Dr. Seuss was trying to do artistically–was he trying to assuage the racist marketplace, while at the same time trying to further an anti-racist philosophy and policies such as desegregation in the army?
      Did he have a change of heart from creating anti-Japanese images, and a racist narrative for the war effort, to creating books like Horton Hears A Who which I think is advocating for the value of all human life, and is addressing the bombing of Hiroshima, and so on? He even dedicated the book to a Japanese friend, and he was a correspondent for Life magazine in Japan after the war.
      I think all of these issues should be discussed in terms of teaching Dr. Seuss’ work. Yes, these things should not be hidden. There is a lot of food for thought. Thanks for your comments. Have a good day. Bye for now.

  3. It was a sad time in our history. War is so destructive in too many ways. What if we had lost? What would our country look like today? Sometimes I think it looks like we have lost. We all have ghosts that haunt us.

    • We African are still at WAR, THAT’S THE PROBLEM. We never not one moment that there is in this day we have something we are not fighting for. So you think this is not war, you are wrong!!! Generations that did not know how dr. Seuss felt this way about us. We are now have nightmares all over again. When will this war on African Americans end every time my stomach settle down from all the crap that white people have put on our people here it goes again. dr. Seuss!!! how many black people order those books by you for their children not knowing HE at some time in his life hated BLACK just like those do TODAY.

  4. Oh how I wish this wasn’t true! But isn’t that white privilege to try sweeping these stories under the rug? I must pass along even what I find difficult.

  5. Ignorance is a blist, I wish I had known this during my child hood as well as my children’s.. I would never purchased any of his books..

    • Then, you would have deprived
      your children of this man’s very
      real wisdom and his lessons on
      tolerance learned so painfully
      by his (and my), entire generation. He
      was, after all, no worse than most of
      his fellow Americans, during those
      days. Cutting his existence out of
      your life, serves only to highlight
      your own quick hostile reaction to
      all of us who are imperfect in our
      common struggle to mature as
      individuals and as a nation. The
      man is dead. Refusing to buy his
      Books and nullifying his contributions
      to our slowly maturing society neither
      punishes him, nor serves our children.

      • I’m not an American and have been aware of the appalling history of your country. All nations have a dark past . However, I agree entirely with what you’ve said.

      • Well said…when I first read this about Dr Seuss, I was appalled and considered removing all of his books from my daughter’s bookshelf. But this wouldn’t serve any purpose…it was his past…a very dark past, but nonetheless his past, and taking away my daughter’s favorite books isn’t going to change that. She’s 7 and understands hate and prejudice to a point, but she would not fully understand the concept until she is older, when I can explain to her. For now, she is free to read the Cat in the Hat and the Lorax and her other favorites, which for her and many children are easy and fun to read, with the rhyming words and silly names and creatures.

      • Carol Handy, as a 62 yr old African American female, a couple lines of your response bothered me enough to make me actually respond, something I usually don’t do. First, you said “He was, after all, no worse than most of
        his fellow Americans, during those
        days…” and then you described another commenter’s reaction of wishing now they hadn’t raised their children on his books as “your own quick hostile reaction to all of us who are imperfect in our common struggle to mature as individuals and as a nation.”
        Having grown up with and still enduring daily the stress of Whites who stereotype, are hostile, disparage, demean, target, and worse, and then deny those behaviors…to reduce those ways of behaving towards others as being merely “imperfect in our common struggle to mature” feels to me like a slap. And I have to wonder if you would be as glib about such hate and abuse if that was the reality of your own daily life? AND against which you had to fight to raise (protect) your children? It seems to me that the minimizing of such behaviors (as that’s how I see your response) is what allows these behaviors to continue in our country like an untreated cancer.
        I want to say a lot more, but rather than that let me just pose this question: Bill Cosby, who is now elderly, has also contributed greatly to our culture and has been an icon for children and families for decades now… would you be as willing not to nullify his contributions once he is gone? And continue to promote them to children and families to come despite the darker side of his personality that’s been revealed recently? (After all, many others including politicians, educators, even clergy have committed similar acts. Its an unfortunate part of our culture.) And if your answer is “no”, then maybe the same might be true of the man who was Dr. Seuss who has possibly done even more damage to innocent people than Mr. Cosby.

    • That makes two of us. My son started reading at age two and a half from “Hop On Pop”. I’ll never be able to touch another Dr. Seuss book.

  6. I never knew this about Dr. Seuss. What can we do with this information and how do we process it? I bet this past would be very hurtful to any kids of the backgrounds he mocked in those cartoons.

  7. Wow! I had no idea that the beloved childen’s book author held such despicable opinions. I can only hope that his opinions evolved and changed over the course of his lifetime. It seems to me that his book about the Sneetches addressed the folly of racism in a way that children can understand. As an educator I have to believe that people are educable. People are complicated. It is possible for horrid people to produce great art. Can we, should we, look at the product apart from the producer? Dr. Seuss’s children’s books do not reflect his racism. Should we boycott them? Richard Wagner was a musical genius and a vile person, narcissistic, vainglorious and anti-Semitic. Should we play his music anyway?

    I am disappointed to learn of Dr. Seuss’s disgusting past, as I was to learn about Walt Disney’s earlier. I am sure that many, if not most, icons from the past, upon closer inspection, have clay feet.

  8. When I was a child I thought as a child, and I for one, learned FROM DR. SEUESS, that sneetches with or without stars were no better or worse than any other sneetches. That is apology enough for me. For ALL, & I do mean ALL if yjose millenials who learned to read using his books, & learned to rap to the mysoginist, selfloathing, denigrating lyrics of today’s popular music, I for one will defend Dr. Suess and say to those who KNOW better the psychological damage done by referring to other humans with the N word and references to garden tools and female dogs–what is YOUR excuse?

    • Actual ‘damage’ was done to Japanese Americans as a direct result of this man’s propaganda. Please understand that one doesn’t have to defend him to appreciate his children’s books and also have a clear-eyed view of his racist, xenophobic side.

    • The “rap music” excuse is a straw man argument. While rappers’ portrayal of women over the years has not necessarily been pretty, it in no way equates to flat out racism depicted by a white person with malicious intentions. I know “people change” but never even in my darkest days would I have CONSIDERED dehumanizing an entire race of human beings like this. I appreciate all Seuss’s contributions to the educational curriculum and what it’s done for generations of kids but I sincerely hope he’s burning in hell.

    • Cemari- How are you defending him by bringing up SOME forms of rap music?
      Dr. Suess doesn’t need anyone’s defense. People can decide to do whatever they want without your opinion about it.

    • Look at how this white lady Cemari Yalene comes in here and makes this important story, about Dr Seuss’s disgusting racism, into something about her pet peeves over rap music. Hey lady, do you also run through cancer fundraisers yelling “there are other diseases too!” We already know what’s in rap music. We’re not talking about that right now. We are talking about millions of children being directed to read the works of a vile bigot and racist propagandist. We’re talking about America’s legacy of prejudice against nonwhites. And you come in here and change the subject to be something you don’t like about black rap stars? Sit down, re-read the article, and try to learn. Stop changing the subject to your own racist views, Cemari.

      • Just another layer of the wrong making the wrong somewhat right. I’m sure there’s more out there. This is a never ending cycle….

  9. I knew some of this about DrSeuss – definitely saw some new material today – and I will still buy the books and use them to engage children. Why? Because the content of his contemporary books are entirely counter to the racist propaganda he was doing then. I am capable of explaining his trajectory to older kids. I don’t venerate DrSeuss in the way that many do. He is a product of history, and should be treated that way. I agree with the argument of decoupling Read day from DrSeuss but I certainly don’t agree with not reading him. His contemporary work has been extremely important in getting kids to enjoy reading and I am not going to take that away from them

  10. I used his books to teach about many things, but never about his racism, ignorance and bigotry. I did not know it and I taught as a librarians for more than 45 years. It saddens me and I would not purchased any if his book either.

  11. People will change over time. It’s easy to dig up dirt. But maybe Dr. Seuss changed over the years… lifelong learning — most of his books send out a different message. Let’s concentrate on that, shall we?! The kids will not see these cartoons, but they will surely get the message of his later books.

    • Moving on, as so many people want to do, is not accomplished by covering up injustices and hurtful actions of the past. It is accomplished by being honest, addressing those injustices and hurtful actions, renouncing them, and doing our best to make things right with those we have hurt. Trying to move on without doing that heaps on more hurt. It’s like saying to a kid who has been punched, to stop whining and forgive the person who punched them, before their wounds have been tended to, the bleeding stopped, or an apology offered.

      For someone who grew up with Dr. Suess as a kid, the hurt would be a lot less if the author had come out and renounced the hurtfulness of his past work directly. That did not happen, and now we are left with the next best thing: the rest of their community coming out and renouncing the hurtfulness of his past work directly.

      This is instructive, something we can all learn from. We suspect from his later works, that this children’s author may have had at least some change of heart (to what extent, we can’t know for sure, there are some positive indications in his later works, but we do know it had not gotten to the stage or point where he felt the need to directly renounce or apologize). But the wound is left festering because instead of addressing it directly, instead of coming out and directly renouncing and seeking to repair the damage of his words and drawings, it was left unspoken, ignored, perhaps kind of implied but with never the clarity or directness required to heal such damage.

      Imagine the power to heal, of us admitting and renouncing injustice and racism where ever it pops up… including and especially in our own thoughts, words, or actions, and those of our heroes, leaders, or other people or institutions we hold in esteem, when we learn better. To stop worrying about protecting images and egos, be able to form propper appologies that start with recognizing the wrong done, and start worrying more about what those who are hurt need, than sweeping things under the rug without properly addressing them. Reluctance to do so acts as roadblocks to improving things and moving on.

      To try to white-wash heroes and our past (or ourselves and our present) does not protect children. It allows the pain to continue on. What is more hurtful to a child…to know the painful truth of our past but be comforted that it is recognized as wrong, and that those sorts of things are firmly renounced by their community…

      OR to find that this is the truth of our past, but it is swept under the rug dismissively, to the point that their peers may be unaware and think that the reality of racism and its effects in our country are blown way out of proportion, because they are literally ignorant of our history (and thus are susceptible to believing or supporting racist policies or attitudes)?

      What is better for my kids who are in a position of privilege? To have a good example of how to acknowledge racism and wrongs? To gain some understanding of the reality that they and their friends live in a world where there is a painful history of racism behind so much in this country, that we are working to try to heal from, and give them a leg up in being able to be a part of making things better? Or to allow them to find they have been living in a filtered bubble that has blinded them to reality at the expense of their friends and their own opportunity to live more in accordance with their values?

      My kids certainly can understand the injustice in the racist cartoons, appreciate the change in message of his later stories, and see how things would be made so much better if he (and now we) directly admit, confront and renounce the racism in his other work, and affirm the need for confronting and renouncing such racism. It is the way that the messages in his later books that we like, such as Sneetches, are honored and become more than lip-service or hypocrisy.

  12. According to the Bible, St. Paul persecuted Christians. He then had a conversion and wrote many books of the New Testament than Christians regard as sacred. I have no idea if Dr. Seuss had his own “Road to Damascus,” any dramatic conversion of his beliefs or a gradual evolution or no change. Dr. Seuss’ early work is clearly despicable. It is entirely appropriate and important to include it in any full history of the man and any museum. But that does not automatically disqualify his later work. He is dead, and buying his books will not be paying him. We should now judge each of his books on their own merits. If we find racism in them, then let’s avoid them, or teach them maturely. If we find value, then let’s value them. Judge the art on its own merits.

  13. While many of his blacks are characterized as African tribal members (and I’m not suggesting that’s OK), I don’t agree that Seuss portrayed them as monkeys. All the characters have “jug” ears and, as cartoonists are wont to do, Seuss merely exaggerated his characters’ features, such as prominent lips. It should be noted that many African tribes did continue to wear traditional garments (which often didn’t provide much coverage) well into the 1960s and later (as illustrated in, for example, “National Geographic”).

    Yes, it was stereotyping but it’s hardly fair to single out Seuss simply because we know him better from his later children’s books. Many cartoonists of the day did similar work. We were decades away from being “political correct.”

    It also takes minimal research to learn that Seuss — along with many others– later regretted his earlier work, as exemplified by the line in “Horton Hears a Who,” that summarizes the book’s theme: “a person’s a person no matter how small.”

    For a more in-depth discussion, see, e.g.,

    • I can’t believe that people try to justify a racist. The Man was clearly a racist. This under minds the accomplishments of Seuss. The truth is what it is.

  14. Maybe just maybe he was working to overcome his racism through his children’s literature. I am not taking up for his horrible beginnings. This is new knowledge to me too. I would like to believe that many of his stories depict his realization of the dangers of divisions and building walls (The Butter Battle book). Or the attitudes of superiority and the dangers of not recognizing the voice of an individual advocating the protection of the unseen people (perhaps reflecting belief in God even) as well as disenfranchised people in Horton hears a who.
    Most definitely we should not sweep this under the carpet but rather look and discuss the change in his tone. We should look closer at the when, where and possibly how his work metamorphized. We should not write him off but use our big box of invisible lenses beside each of of us to peer through and unravel this story to understand him. It takes alot of person strength to change ones ideas and try not to pass them on. It is too easy to do what one has already done for so long. It appears to me he made some changes before he died. He made most of his humans look disfigured and monkey looking. Children and animals were mostly the only figures that appeared normal. Another potential lense is he may have felt the distortion of adults to adults of his era. They may have not been worthy of a more accurate images. This needs research.

  15. I’m loving how most of you are trying to justify this brand of Tomfkery. Make sure you pick up and support the latest copy of “Horton hears a Racist”.

  16. So looking back, “Green Eggs and Ham” meant to me, as a child, I can keep an open mind to things I’m not familiar with. It made me feel hopeful. I identified with many of the characters and helped me put words to feelings. Interesting to read about this history and for today, helps me be more vigilant about my own biases.

  17. I abhor the “Flix” advertisements and the other racist cartoons against Black people and Japanese. I think it is important to recognize that this sort of overt racism was common in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40′; perhaps more subtle in the 50s. The awareness of racism for whites came during the 1960s when civil rights became a national political issue because Black people pushed back. Thank goodness we can see more clearly now and call out racism for the hatred and fear that it is. We cannot change the past but we can work together to build a more inclusive future.

  18. This was in the 30s and 40s and he was not publishing them just for the sake of publishing – he was hired, first by the insecticide company, then by the US government (“buy war bonds”). Before you vilify one man, who went on to write books that promoted the opposite of the propaganda, you need to look at the times, the circumstances. I’m not saying the propaganda was right or just, and I think all of Dr Seuss’ work should be public and studied – the old ones are, are all, an accurate though sad reflection of the times. What the old propaganda shows is that then – as it is now – just about everyone was racist and xenophobic.

  19. People are so clueless to how a human evolves and how time and culture biased it is. Many of our famous leaders of the past that we study had slaves- does that mean we no longer recognize the good they contributed. Theodor Giesel was born in 1904. Let’s remember what things were like for him growing up as a child and what he would have been exposed to as a white male growing up in the 1910s through his teen years. He was only about 25 when he drew the one marked 1929. The fact that he drew these kind of cartoons in his younger days- in a different time – I will not judge him for. I will not let that take away all the good things he did. He felt there could be a better way for kids to have access to books that they could learn to read independently… he began writing those books with the same CVC decodable words and a limited number of high frequency (dolch/sight words) so children could all feel success with reading and read something more fun that Dick and Jane. This was a wonderful thing supporting children’s literacy and it had/has a huge influence on how children are exposed to learning to read. He inspired people like P.D. Eastman (Are you my mother) and got Jan and Stan Berenstain started- check out their early Berenstain Bear books – like “The Bears Picnic.” He also wrote many amazing books with powerful lessons. Children’s literature would not be where it is today if it were not for his contributions. People grow and change. If I am to judge- and I’d rather not be judged by people- than judge me by my latest actions for they show what I have learned, do not judge me for my early actions- until I die there is always still time to learn and grow.

    • Side note: When he was born, not only hadn’t we had the civil rights movement yet- women weren’t even allowed to vote yet. Picture in your mind the 1900s-1930s…

      • and yet, there were progressives who fought for equality. i would hope my mind would have been a bit more enlightened since racial and gender equality have been around for a lot longer than the 1900’s.

  20. The author of this article makes loads of claims. Where are his sources? Yes, he drew ads for insecticides and oil before he wrote books. How much of the ads did he agree with? Come up with? If that’s the case, was he a sell-out (like most of us today who support the existing system)? Did his views change/evolve? Where is the research? I’m not defending Seuss, just asking for a far better article covering it.

  21. I believe people grow and change with time. He was a young boy living in the 1900’s. He later write wonderful books that was the opposite of his earlier books. If they open a museum of his life I hope they don’t leave out any of his work. People need to see the change. I’m sure it will be omitted

  22. Since it was his job to make these cartoons . I personally feel he was reflecting the feelings and fears of that time . He may have been prejudiced but that should not stop us from celebrating his contributions to children’s literature. In this country we seem to have a double standard that it is ok for every one to have an opinion as long as they are not white if they are white then they should be vilified unmercifully

  23. In this article, I honestly don’t see the difference between how Seuss depicts blacks and whites, they booth look like the same big ear monkey to me. The only contextual differences are the real world relationships of the 1930s America. What seems more disturbing to me is that we are judging his paid advertisements and strictly blaming him. The minds of the ad agencies, the business corporations that sold flit-spray pesticides to stop Malaria carrying mosquitos or government propaganda offices that paid for the war-ads seem more sinister.

    To look-back and judge the past by today’s lenses is no different than blaming a black student for being unprepared for college level work, or an asian student for lacking football skills. You can’t blame people for their social context, especially about something they can not control. For those of us old enough and to know that they didn’t have radio, much less TV or internet communications back then, the limited understanding of other cultures, and the use of words like ‘nigger’ that wasn’t considered a cuss word or insensitive at the time, just read some books from that era, may expose the unquestioned ignorance of the period, but don’t make Dr. Seuss any more or less mired in racial premises than his time.

    The anti-Japanese propaganda seems more disturbing to me until you look at the propaganda the Japanese were putting out at the same time. The Hitler cartoon looks like an attack on the Germans, not an endorsement, but I could be wrong.

    I once challenged a prominent UC Philosophy professor about his new book on Nicomachean Ethics due to Aristotle’s views on slavery. In ancient greece, slaver was less about racial difference than about who conquered and who got conquered, but it seemed to me that a man who could figure out that the world was round 2500 years before space travel, should be able to see the obvious truth that all men were created equal and slavery was unethical.

    Theodore Geisel, like Aristotle, was a man mired in his time, the difference between them is one was the philosopher for Emperors, the other was a cartoonist.

  24. The author of this article really needs to educate themselves on what “yellow-journalism’ means. I can’t believe how badly they got it wrong. (Hint, it started with William Randolph Hearst in the 1890s – having nothing to do with WWII, or the depictions of the Japanese. The author should also research “the Yellow Kid”).

    But as badly as they got that portion wrong, it really makes me question the accuracy of the rest of the article.

  25. So what? Most people, including myself didn’t know anything about this and it wasn’t an issue. Dr. Seuss is early views were wrong but that doesn’t take away from the powerful impact that his later work achieved in teaching children to read. You shouldn’t attempt to erase that for the sake of your cause. That’s the work of a bitter, angry black man. Don’t be that man.

  26. Recognize all of our mistakes. Learn from them so we are less divisive as a community. I am grateful that things like this come to light and can be discussed but in a manner that can be used to unite us not further divide us. Racism is highlighted here at its peak acceptance. But we should not only look at this with shock of how someone beloved was responsible for it but allow it to open our eyes to the other things flying under the radar as acceptable right now. As long as we continue to let any kind of difference of me vs you (be it race, sex, religion, orientation, age etc) we will not move forward. The challenge here is the same with so many other facts and heros and even foundations of not just America. They are deeply flawed individuals. What my children learn is that you can do great things your entire life, but you will only be remembered for the terrible one you did. George Washington was the father of our nation but he was an elitist slave owner who didn’t want every american to have the right to vote (only land owners). What we do is look at the good. We look at the bad. We know the full history so we can repeat the good and never the bad. If you walk away from this, walk away inquisitive of the “norms” you just let slide and do your part in stopping them and seeing them with the same shock and horror as we see this, and do something about it. To me, that is the point.

  27. Y is it anytime black folks call white folks to the carpet about racism and racist actions it’s a backlash face it most of America is and always be built off racism it’s reality now can remain inactive and act it’s not or u. An b proactive and face the facts and try to change them but to get defensive is getting old

  28. A few years ago I saw a museum exhibit of Seuss’ WWII anti-Japanese propaganda (hired by the US Government). I was shocked and horrified–but glad that it wasn’t being suppressed, that, instead, it was being put on pretty bold display. That’s the appropriate thing to do.

  29. If you research a little more, you will find that Dr. Seuss was adamantly opposed to racism and anti-Semitism and drew many, MANY cartoons espousing his views regarding bigotry against black people and Jews. He was clearly bigoted against Japanese, however, in the context of the times, Japanese cartoonist portrayed Americans as hairy, demonic mongrels as well. War does not bring out the best in people. One must remember that Dr. Seuss was still a product of his time, in spite of being clearly less racist than other white people during that time.

    • The ugly truth will set us all free im a proud Aboriginal Wiradjuri woman of the First Nation of Australia born in the 60s part of the flora an fauna act not recognized in our own country i grew with these degrading racist sn scarey to me at the time cartoons this is part of where it steams from imbeded generational rascism and its excepted behavior wake up world lots of healing to be done in all our back yards clean the mess

  30. Let’s not forget the economics that accompany racism. Had Seuss’s characterization of people of color offended the moral inclinations of advertisers and readers, it either would have been withdrawn with an apology as not reflecting the views of the enlightened editor/publisher, or not published at all. That Seuss was able to continue contributing such blatantly racist propaganda without censure, reflects upon the larger social malaise prevalent in America and other Western democracies. Catherine’s admittedly belated awareness of Seuss’s overt racism, and her cognitive disturbance, is revealing. Why would white people be immune and ignorant to other white people’s racism existing before 1965? The very fabric of American society was infused with racism, exclusion, and exploitation of people of color. While I commend Catherine on her willingness to re-think her home town hero’s image and legacy, I find it appalling that, even today, many American people are ignorant of America’s apartheid system instituted from 1609 until 1965.

  31. I agree with the critiques of Geisel’s depictions of African-Americans and those from the Middle East in some of his cartoons from the 1940s. However, his work in the 60s and 70s was anti-racist and in fact helped build the consensus against racism that US culture actually holds and continues to hold. What we’re seeing in Trump and his followers is a backlash against a shift in cultural consensus that Geisel was instrumental in creating. Millions of kids grew up learning not to reject people based on visible differences because of books like The Sneeches and Horton Hears a Who. They learned to care about the environment because of the Lorax. We only know about these comics because of reporting on them, so I think it’s a mistake to say we shouldn’t continue to use Dr. Seuss books now. While they did reflect racist attitudes in the 40s, they didn’t create them then or now.

    Geisel’s WW II cartoons are somewhat misrepresented by this article, by the way. I own the collection.

  32. I am unaware of any such horrific drawings made by Dr Seuss after World War 2. I wish he had apologized… nevertheless, many of his books for children written after this early period specifically attacked nationalism (the Butter Battle Book), racism (Horton Hears a Who), ecocide (The Lorax) and consumerism (The Grinch). Yes, some of his early drawings were disgustingly racist, as this article makes clear… but it seems like to me his great works, done decades later, were a million miles from there. I grew up on Dr Seuss, and not one of my memories of his books had anything to do with racism.
    This also brings to mind Malcolm X. Late in life he acknowledged he had erred, not only in following the Nation of Islam, but in assuming the worst about well-meaning whites. He is often judged by those who have an axe to grind with him by some of his less tolerant early speeches. But he grew and evolved and at the end of his life was preaching a very different message than in his earlier years. My feeling is that something similar happened with Dr Seuss. He never verbally explicitly apologized… but maybe he did it through his art?

    • perhaps, one needs to focus on the evolving nature of his messages. it is more where we end the journey rather than where we start it.

  33. Are we really going to dig up and investigate every area of the past to point fingers. This is all part of history nothing can change that, and (whether you like it or not) how it was then. Let’s move on.

  34. And they still teach darwinism… neodarwinism, and lamarkism. Anything about that? We all come from monkeys??? Any stories against evolution? Nope. Because you’d lose your job. What about IBM? they invented the numbering system for the NAZI’S tattoo’d on Jews. What about Democrats? Lincoln the Republican stopped the Democrats Slavery. Anything about that? Republicans stopped the Democrats and their Jim Crow laws… Civil rights Act? Remember that? If you’re going to attack one, you must do them all. Now back to rappers degrading “dem bitches”.

  35. Reigning the point back in, we should give all children who enter an American History Class a well rounded and accurate account of America’s History.

  36. This critique of Dr. Seuss does not go far enough. The cartoons are bad. But this story does not point out that the newspaper in which they were published, PM, was sufficiently far to the left that its critics red-baited it. In lefty-journalist history, you often hear of PM as this noble but failed experiment to free journalism from the capitalist clutches of advertisers–PM did not take advertising. The great muckraker I.F. Stone was the newspaper’s Washington correspondent, before he struck out on his own with I.F. Stone’s Weekly. But whatever other liberal credentials the paper may have had, the publisher was happy to print Seuss’ work.

    So Seuss’s racist/xenophobic cartoons were appearing in what was then considered to be country’s largest, most visible left-leaning daily paper.

  37. So the question becomes…
    Is there ever the ability to come to a realization and understanding, admit wrong, make changes in attitudes and behavior, and receive forgiveness?
    Yes, he held these offensive positions and produced the drawings. He also expressed regret and amended his views and drawings and used his talent for good. Animators of the era at Disney produced the same kind of hateful representations. Same at Warner Bros. (Looney Tunes…Bugs, Daffy, Porky, etal).
    So, without condoning the original sin, do we hold it without consideration against all forever or do we accept the capacity for change and redemption?

  38. REMOVE ALL DR. Seuss books, videos and material from all libraries, schools, households IMMEDIATELY!!! SPEECHLESS! DUMBFOUNDED! Should not be surprised! … but sick and saddened believing that Seuss was an illustrator and writer who had education for all as his best interest at heart. DUPED!?

  39. I see this trash has been shared almost fifty thousand times. Sad. You have twisted one of the earliest liberal icons. Insane. So look at all of the political cartoons and you soon notice something. He is into out loud shaming. You lead clickbait cartoon actually was brilliant. The phrase meant skeleton in the closet in this case the wealthy would at his time could afford employees to do the loathsome job of splitting wood as having been the same families that owned slaves. At the time of the cartoon the were trying to starve black families and deny the men jobs even the loathsome job of splitting wood so there was a white man in the wood pile. This was his answer. Black men were good enough to split wood when you owned them. Sad the level of disinformation you have spread here.

  40. can we grow?
    can we not learn new things to replace the old?
    This seems to be why racism remains, other than its convenience to Capital as a way of dividing us.
    Read your way into knew understanding and craft a solution. be the change…

  41. Mahatma Gandhi also expressed some pretty racist views. It’s a sad fact about human nature that people are capable of both great contributions and terrible actions, with all that potential simultaneously rolled up into each individual. Live and learn. Emulate the good in each person while avoiding their mistakes.

  42. I believe the damage done is particularly poignant because the works were published. It is self-evident that his views changed over time. There is no way one could have written “The Sneetches” and still hold on to racism. “The Grinch” is clearly, to me, about repentance and learning the true message of Christ and redemption. Give the man credit for a lifetime body of work that for the most part was positive. I don’t excuse his racism… I believe people can change and it seems clear to me he did. The museum should show that, too.

  43. Someone above asks the question, “Was Dr. Seuss trying to amends for his racist past in Horton Hears A Who” with his “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Yet that book too has subtle racist undertones brimming through, in the nasty “black-bottomed” eagle (with a very Russian name) and the kangaroos, who are assholes (Australian xenophobia). The repetition of the phrase “black-bottomed” three times in the story is not terribly subtle given that the phrase “black bottom” already has racist overtones.

  44. The cartoon above depicts a slave market. It’s pretty obviously racist. I don’t know about the monkeys part, but the sign on the wall gives it away, and it’s just plain despicable. It may have reflected attitudes of that time, but there was no call to reinforce that kind of ugly racism, not then and not now.

  45. Though i don’t condone what Dr.Seuss did, i do know that All Men (people) posses the Same tendency to promote themselves and display the same arrogance and ignorance.
    While i understand one’s support for his or her own, I also understand that Life requires Balance. Not a balance of Good and evil but rather A balance of Freedom and Discipline. I think his biggest problem in exercising his creative freedom he didn’t know how to draw the line.
    But because he was part of the Majority, his creative foolishness went unchecked. Much like ours sometimes at a Cultural really designed to bring us together and then somebody starts calling you a sellout because of your religious beliefs.
    This is the Pride of Life at work in mankind.
    Let’s elevate and enlighten America and the world by celebrating the cultural Achievements and Contributions of African-Americans Asian-Americans and Latin-Americans.
    And lets do this without selling our souls and common sense to Satan.(Evil Adversary)

  46. The sad part about this entire thread is that people wanted to jump on someone for telling someone else not to be blind and willfully ignorant. Also everyone in history that was white was not a racist. There were abolitionists and there were other white people who did not believe in racism or slavery. So to say that just because you were white you must have been racist in that time is ignorant. Hold this man accountable for the things that he did. He was a racist. He was what he was and that is that. Black people and other people of color do not need to look the other way and white people need to stop making excuses for their ancestors. That is exactly how we have the government that we have now. People need to wake up and stop making excuses and stop being so blind as to what is in front of them because it doesn’t affect them.

  47. Political cartoons[edit]
    Theodor Geisel drew over 400 cartoons for the New York newspaper PM. This was during the two years that he was the chief editorial cartoonist (1941-1943). Many of these cartoons were directed towards the war, Adolf Hitler, and Japan. Over 200 of these cartoons have been republished, most of which hadn’t been published anywhere since their original debut in PM.[2] In 1929, he illustrated a cartoon with racist elements for Judge magazine. The four-panel cartoon was entitled, “Cross-Section of The World’s Most Prosperous Department Store,” and in one of the panels, two White men are examining Black men with pitch black skin and big red lips, and there is a sign reading, “Take home a high grade nigger for your woodpile! Satisfaction guaranteed.” [3] via Wiki

  48. The origin of the term “yellow journalism” is NOT anti-Japanese propaganda from the WWII era, but the cheap yellow-paper publications, ca. 1900, many of which featured a cartoon called “The Yellow Kid” (also Na,Ed for the yellow paper).

  49. This is such a revelation for me. It goes to show how complex people can be. The article hints that he may have had some remorse for his previous actions. Now these drawings can be used as an example of the paranoid propaganda of the time. Another artist, Thomas Nash also wasn’t the image of the kindly Santa Claus. Look close at the hash tags and there are all kinds of twisted things portrayed. We need to realize these aren’t saints, just talented people.

  50. I’m sorry, but I too wish I could have remained ignorant as well, and I’m black. I love Oh the Places You’ll Go. It’s my go-to pick me up story, and the realization that these terrible things came from the same mind, the idea that he didn’t mean me when he wrote these things. It’s heart breaking. I’m saddened by this info and i agree with Cathrine that these realities should not be left out of the museum

  51. This is an important article; I think it’s crucial for us to look critically even at our cultural heroes and idols and be honest about the way racism has permeated so much of our culture.

    I want to suggest a correction to one point (because I am a book nerd with a fascination for propaganda, I happened to know this) – the author incorrectly describes the origin and use of the term “yellow journalism.” It was not coined around WW2 to describe anti-Japanese propaganda; it originates from the 1890s when a few newspapers were jockeying for circulation superiority by publishing sensationalized stories and scandals. “Yellow” refers to an ink color some used to grab attention on the page, and did not have racial connotations.

  52. Racist – yes, but he was human and did produce some that directly criticized racism. Since this Businessweek article is from 5 years ago, I would have expected a more thorough analysis than the “never addressed the damage done by his racist works specifically” comment. The last two cartoons are explicitly rejecting racism.
    Also- the Springfield library has addressed part of the racist legacy of Dr. Seuss. – I agree with Catherine that the full legacy should be addressed at the new museum.
    Much of the artwork presented is available to view on-line

    • “The last two cartoons are explicitly rejecting racism.”

      Is that qualifies as an apology for works that are still in the public domain, available for public consumption? A cartoon…

  53. I’ll still read his books forever and introduce them all to my kids. Everyone is racist, try focusing in tv good things for once people.

  54. We, as humans, are deeply flawed. We all are both good and bad. Unfortunately, the bad is what most people see first. It is deplorable that Seuss was so racist early in his career, but it is admirable that he realized the error of his ways, changed his outlook, grew in spirit, and became the great children’s author that we know. Many of our notable and historical figures are as ambiguous as Dr. Seuss. While people are currently insisting that the Confederate flag be demoted from being the state flag of several of our states, and that figures such as Robert E. Lee, Sidney Lanier, Dick Dowling, Albert S. Johnson, etc. have their names expunged from schools that had been named after them, it indicates that people have not read their histories of these figures. The flag is just a flag–it was a battle flag and associated with a period of history in our country. The flag that has importance over all is the American flag. State flags are just particular to each state. As far as the historical figures go, it’s like Dr. Seuss–they are notable for other reasons than the Confederacy, slavery, the Civil War, etc. If you read their biographies, you will find that most of them were against slavery, and even secession, but believed that states had the right to govern themselves without interference from the Federal Government. Removing the flag from state capitols, and the names of Southern historical figures from public schools doesn’t change anything. These men were honored for reasons other than their service in the Confederacy. In several cases, they were educators, not just of white students but of black students, too. While I abhor discrimination against people of ANY color, creed, nationality, culture, etc., I find it incomprehensible to remove the name of a school simply because of something that was part of our history over 150 years ago! We need to keep these flags, these names, Dr. Seuss books, etc. in order to preserve the historical significance and remind us to NEVER let those events happen again!

    • And yes, this part of his history should definitely be addressed in the museum. It’s part of his life, part of the country’s history, and who he was. Good and bad, he was still a great children’s author, and he did rectify his errors.

    • ” Unfortunately, the bad is what most people see first.”

      Really? If that’s the case how come so many people celebrate the works of a racist?

  55. “Some suggest that his book “Horton Hears a Who!”, with the message “a person’s a person no matter how small!” is an apologetic “allegory” the damage done by his World War II propaganda. However, this remains conjecture and is ultimately, an attempt to justify Seuss’s racism.”

    This section in particular is nonsense; a claim that Seuss decided the racism of his earlier work was wrong and attempted to make amends precludes any “attempt to justify Seuss’s racism”, because that claim has already asserted that it was unjustified.

    “Seuss’s wartime depiction of the Japanese was racist, but we were at war, and it’s necessary to demonise the enemy in time of war.” <— This is an attempt to justify racism.

    "Seuss's wartime depiction of the Japanese was racist, and he later realised this could not be justified, and in his later works seeks to make amends." <— This is not.

    Which isn't to say that the latter argument is true; just that one making it cannot meaningfully be accused of trying to justify racism.

  56. I read this to today and used the …”the Sneetches” book to depict the opposite… I am a mixed male in America and I could see how he did these and possible grew and changed his views man everyone deserves a chance to grow and change and evolve. It was dark times and he was caught up in it too. Like Jesus said He who is without sin let him cast the first stone!
    To his credit, Seuss apologized after the war for engaging in racist hysteria. Horton Hears a Who is widely read as an apology for his role in stoking anti-Japanese sentiments and his story about “the Sneetches” is taught in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “teaching tolerance” curriculum.”

  57. The author left out The Sneetches and Other Stories which is an entire book and animated short film dedicated to teaching children that discrimination is wrong (The Sneetches), socioeconomic progress will find a way no matter how willfully stubborn you are (The Zax), stereotypes are harmful to society (“Too Many Daves”), and that irrational fears of others are really silly once you put aside preconceived notions and get to know the real person (What Was I Afraid Of?).

    I get that Seuss was a racist and that his earlier work was horrid, but I will never trash someone for seeing the error of their ways and trying to rectify their past mistakes. Eradicating racism from our society will only happen if we’re willing to forgive the people who are willing to apologize for past racism. Otherwise we just hold on to the hatred forever and never move on from it. I think the author had a pretty obvious agenda (clickbait/ad revenue) by leaving out The Sneetches and Other Stories from the article and that’s a shame.

  58. I have read all the comments,and regardless if it happened 1941-1943 it happened! It’s a learning experience and an eye opener for some of you. Don’t be on the defensive take it as a learning experience. I’m a retired Teacher and didn’t know this information. However there is a lot of hidden History that even African Americans don’t know about.

    • It didn’t “happen”. He made it happen. He did it. He expressed his thoughts and beliefs in his so-called art. The prejudice is deep within and he was all too anxious to share and celebrate it with the rest of the world.

      Stop apologising for bigotry. And stop trying to sugarcoat wickedness.

  59. Every man in any given moment is always doing the best he can. It may not be the best that you think he can but it is for him. If a person could fly, how often would he walk? We must learn to not jusdge but just be grateful for every expression of life regardless of whether or not you agree with the others’life choices. We all get to choose what and how we want to experience life. Be accepting and the person who demonstrates for you those choices that you choose not to experience. For in the absence of what you are NOT, You are NOT! Learn not to indulge in the idolatrous conscienceness. Holding anything higher than yourself is idolatry. Love yourself and you will never be disappointed.

  60. Very sad revelation, but I know he wasn’t a friend to children, either. He was very vocal about not liking them very much. It’s clear the man had limitations.


  62. I’m sure this article make the author feel very good about themselves – vilifying a popular white children’s author – but the simple fact that these horrible early images had already been erased from the national consciousness shows what people loved and what they hated about Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). Seuss was obviously not immune to the prejudices of the time, but it also appears he also overcame it, and that is the real point. The author doesn’t bother to mention “The Sneetches,” a story everyone should go to when teaching children how ignorant racism can be.
    If the author or this site wanted to teach about what is going on RIGHT NOW, they should just post a daily link to the Chicago Sun-Times Homicide Watch.
    That’s what’s going on today. Or would you rather spend your time & energy chasing the ghosts of white devils?

  63. The question is did his thinking and judgment evolve with the times. In the 20s the world was differnet than today .Blacks were segregated and society as thought differnt . The books we all grew up on were differnt . He obviously evolved and realized his thinking was wrong . Most of America hated the Japanese in the 40s. They flew over to and bombed our military base without provocation . His writing were I nine with every other news outlet and media center . I would say he showed his brilliance by learning and evolving and writing the great books he did write. Stop trying to find something wrong with everything in our past by comparing it to modern society . This author most likely did things in their youth they wouldn’t do today . It’s how people evolve and learn

  64. I didn’t know this about the man. It is enlightening to say the least. However, it doesn’t take away my enjoyment of his work nor my decision to read it to my children. A book, or any work of art, should be met on it’s own terms. His racist work is garbage and propaganda appalling, and it should be discussed. Most of his children’s books are brilliant, and they should be celebrated.

  65. Say it ain’t so!!!!! *Sigh*…I STILL have a battered copy of my first Seuss book. I’m a card carrying AARP member, and “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew” reigns as one of my childhood favorites. I know it by heart! The other day, I was thinking of ordering a new copy–FOR MYSELF! I recall reading that he’d been unsuccessful with his work geared toward adults, found his niche in children’s literature, and was committed to children’s literacy. His stories made us want to/ love to read!…Wow. I’m floored… I can’t help but think of the lessons in fairness and empathy, and dangers of oppressive, narcissistic leadership found in “Yertle The Turtle”; the lessons in faithfulness and work ethic found in “Horton hatches the Egg”; the lessons in healthy self-esteem and self acceptance found in Gertrude McFuzz….Clearly, this former elementary school Art teacher could go on and on. I am sooooo disappointed seeing this. It’s not the end of the world, and people are flawed, but this is sad–and he’s not here to defend himself or explain. I’m looking at it, but give me a minute to swim out of denial. I’m hoping the illustrations were editorial and satirical as opposed to reflections of his ACTUAL beliefs. *sigh*

  66. I swear, I have never seen or heard about this. You could have knocked me over with a feather this am. Just goes to show you We are never to old to learn!!!

  67. I am Tanzanian and as a child i loved reading Dr. Seuss.The illustrations are still vivid in my mind like a wonderful secret. To learn of his past dissapoints me so! However we have a right to know so we can understand history and peoples participation and contribution to it. We have a right to form a personal opinion and also consider a more truthful way forward.
    Let people know who he was and how he impacted our lives with both good and bad.
    Even now, Africa is not half naked people riding animals…we are progressing amidst rich heritage and myriad cultures 🙂

  68. Leave the Dead in peace and his beloved stories in our children’s hearts. everyone was a racist back then… big whoop… we dont have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. he did good things and bad things… welcome to the human experience… get over it

  69. Doesn’t bother me. Dichotomies always abound in the creative realm as well as making the world a better place. Good work doesn’t always come from good pure people. It’s part of the human condition. MLK, JFK, FDR, Charles Dickens, Steve Jobs are just a few example along with Seuss. “By calling our heroes superhuman we also let ourselves off the hook: Why do the hard work of bettering the world if that’s something only saints do?” Hampton Sides

  70. This question of whether we can/should separate the artist from their art came up when painter and performer Rolf Harris was convicted of sexual offences in the UK. He is an Australian and his art is collectable/prized. A local government council in Australia had a debate on whether to remove a piece of his art from public display in the local government offices. The dilemma is – are we appreciating the art or are we viewing the art as a representation of the person – which we now ‘feel’ is a false representation because it does not seem to match who we thought that person was.

  71. A simple search of Judge magazine displays a Wikipedia entry, describing that magazine as satirical. Did your extensive research into the context in which these cartoons were presented consider that they might be ironical or satirical? Or is this just revisionist history, taken entirely out of context?

  72. Obviously, Dr. Seuss and his family should have executed. as well anyone who publishes or distributes his work. This is a free country, and we don’t allow the kind of thoughts that Dr. Seuss and his books propagate. No doubt his books were the single most important influence in the election of Donald Trump.

  73. Hardly worth commenting to such ignorance. There is a thing called caricature, used in cartoons. Everything is exaggerated for amusuement. And during WWII it was considered normal to joke about or harshly criticize those on the other side of a war. Have you seen what was coming out of Japan or Germany back then.

    Dr. Seuss was unusual in that even when he made fun of other cultures, he DIDN’T draw people in a discriminating manner. They were considered very different, but equal.

    But the actual context of something historical means nothing to losers looking for old examples of racism.

  74. The tendency for white people, especially those invested in their “cultural whiteness”, to forgive and forget the evils underpinning their cultural pillars is legendary. There is very little spiritual or moral reflection on the rights and wrongs, or the historical impact of whiteness on the rest of humanity.

    They will sweep his past under their rug until they are good and ready to throw him under the bus. And not before. At which point they will deny they ever considered him as a reasonable educator for their children.

    I guess that’s why meaningful change takes generations. When those who hold onto the evils of a past they are emotionally tied to, pass away.

  75. I wish the author of this article had presented a more balanced view of Dr Seuss. There is no doubt that his racist cartoons were damaging, but I feel that it is unfair do emphasise this without referring to his more recent publications. For instance, the publication of his 1953 The Sneetches and Other Stories is a clear departure from his racist caricatures, and I believe that publication became largely influential in the lives of many white folk in the US and in Africa in pointing out the absurdity of racism.

    This article risks casting a bad light on the later humanist work, which only deserves praise. I’m sure the author could have exercised sufficient diligence in writing an article reflecting this. Another thing worth mentioning, is that there is little reference to the context under which he published the racist literature. For all we know, he could have done so under duress.

  76. An errors an error no matter how small. To stay off the subject correct all and all. Suess made mistakes that he never addressed. He’s no longer alive to explain or confess. He probably made more money from hiding the fact. He was anti-semetic and hated “Blacks” and “Japs.”So, he wrote about Sneeches, Green eggs and a Who and abandoned propaganda to sell children’s books to you. If I spelled something wrong or my grammar is lacking, Don’t worry or fret the FBI is tracking.

  77. I am in no way voicing support for all of Dr. Suess’ propogantic decisions, however, this article is very short-sighted. None of these examples or quotes shows any innate racism. You have to take all of these things in the context in which they were created. He could have very well been a racist, but to take a cartoon seriously, when we know that Dr. Seuss was generally one to critique society through his works, does those works a true disservice. In regards to the Japanese ones, we were at war with Japan. you would have been hard-pressed to find any military man or regular american who wouldn’t have agreed with this propaganda. This happens when ppl are at war. The view of who these ppl are as individuals is skewed by what certain individuals in that group have done. This has always rung true. People today, are so concerned with perceived racism that we forget to just take things as they are, not what you perceive them to be. What do we KNOW? We know that Dr. Seuss’ works positively impacted children’s lives for the better, for decades. We know that none of his [children’s works specifically] had any overt racism. We do not KNOW that he was a racist. Unless he has been quoted supporting euthanasia or lynchings or something then all we are doing is trying to besmirch an imperfect MAN and discount his legacy. What is the point in that?

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