Children listen to tennis star Serena Williams read Dr. Seuss books to children during “Read Across America Day” to commemorate the 50th birthday of the “Cat In The Hat” character at the New York Public Library in New York, March 2, 2007. Recently, the Dr. Seuss museum in Massachusetts agreed to remove a mural after complaints of racism. (Reuters)
A Massachusetts museum dedicated to Dr. Seuss says it will replace a mural featuring a Chinese character from one of his books after three authors said they would boycott an event due to the “jarring racial stereotype.”
The mural features illustrations from the author’s first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”
Three children’s authors declined an invitation to the museum’s inaugural Children’s Literature Festival, which was set for Oct. 14 before being canceled. After the museum offered to take down the mural, the authors said they would attend, but the museum has not said if the festival is back on.
Authors Mo Willems, Mike Curato and Lisa Yee signed a letter and posted it to social media explaining why they take issue with the mural’s depiction.
“We recently learned that a key component of this institution honoring Dr. Seuss features a mural depicting a scene from his first book, ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mullberry Street,’ and within the selected art is a jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man, who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes,” the complaint reads. “We find this caricature of ‘the Chinaman’ deeply hurtful, and we have concerns about children’s exposure to it.”
The museum, which is located in the author’s hometown of Springfield, said Thursday that the mural will be replaced by images from later books.
“This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who,’ showed a great respect for fairness and diversity,” a statemen from the Museum read, via MassLive. “Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, ‘It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.'”
The image in question can be seen in the video below.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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