Think Dr. Seuss and immediately beloved children’s author comes to mind.
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Green Eggs and Ham. The Cat in the Hat. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Hop on Pop. Fox in Socks. And the list goes on….
Until now, I would never have associated prejudice or racism with this beloved author. However, in a 1929 cartoon, Dr. Seuss depicted Black people for sale with a racist sign in the background stating, “Take home a high-grade n****r for your woodpile. Satisfaction guaranteed.”
Turns out that Dr. Seuss created several offensive cartoons early in his career. Then, in the late 1940s, he began to atone for his former views by producing numerous anti-racism illustrations.
Therefore, when you consider Dr. Seuss’ work in totality, I believe that his legacy speaks volumes about the power of the human spirit to change, evolve, and soar.
The thing is, we are the products of our cultural upbringing and heritage. Most of the bigotry in Dr. Seuss’ generation was passed down from previous generations. Therefore, the creator of this racist cartoon is not the same evolved man who created such endearing and lovable characters that have since blessed numerous generations.
The lesson from this story is that people can change. Ignorance can be overcome. Our past does not have to define our future. Isn’t this the message of hope embodied by the human spirit?
My family owns many of Dr. Seuss’ books and we often read them together. This cartoon certainly hasn’t destroyed my appreciation for his literary legacy.
Do you think this racist cartoon will damage Dr. Seuss’ legacy? Does it change your impression of him?