Examples of racial undertones in the books include “anti-Japanese American political cartoons and cartoons depicting African Americans for sale captioned with offensive language,” LCPS wrote.
“Given this research and LCPS ‘focus on equity and culturally sensitive education, LCPS has provided this advice to schools for the past two years not to connect Reading Day to across America exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday. “
This study, published in 2019, examined 50 of Dr. Seuss’ books and found that 43 of the 45 colored characters had “characteristics that fit the definition of Orientalism.” The two “African” characters, according to the study, both have anti-black characteristics.
Two specific examples, according to the study, can be found in the books “The Cat’s Quizzer: Are YOU Smarter Than the Cat in the Hat?” and “If I ran the zoo.”
“In (‘The Cat’s Quizzer’), the Japanese character is called ‘a Japanese’, has a bright yellow face, and stands on what appears to be Mount Fuji,” the authors wrote.
Regarding “If I ran the zoo,” the study highlights another example of Orientalism and white supremacy.
“The three (and only three) Asian characters who do not wear conical hats carry a white man on their heads in ‘If I Ran the Zoo’. The white male is not only on top and carried by these Asian figures, but he is also holding a gun, exemplifying dominance. The text below the Asian characters describes them as “assistants who all have their eyes at an angle.” from ‘country no one can spell.’ “
The study also argues that since the majority of human figures in Dr. Seuss’ books are white, his works – inadvertently or not – center whiteness and thus perpetuate white supremacy.
LCPS stated that Dr Seuss’ books are still available in libraries and classrooms in its schools, “however, Dr Seuss and his books are no longer the focus of the day reading across America in the Loudoun County Public Schools. “
“We continue to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive, diverse, and reflective of our student community, and not just celebrate Dr. Seuss,” LCPS said.