NAACP Calls for Censorship of all Dr. Seuss Books/Works in all Public Schools/Institutions and Public Libraries
WHEREAS, Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most popular children author and his books have sold over 650 million including 450 million since his death in 1991 (28 years ago) and are available in seventeen languages and 95 countries; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Seuss published hundreds of cartoons, comics, and advertisements for newspapers, magazines, companies, and the United States government that dehumanized and degraded African Americans, Indigenous, people from other marginalized groups including Jewish and Muslim people, and other people of color; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Seuss illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes such as portraying Jewish people with "oversized noses and Jewish merchants on a football field with "Quarterback Mosenblum" refusing to relinquish the ball until a bargain price had been established," or frequently portraying Africans and African Americans as monkeys and cannibals "often holding spears, surrounded by flies, and wearing grass skirts" and in Judge magazine and College Humor, he published over a dozen cartoons depicting Black people as monkeys and consistently captioned them as "niggers;" and
WHEREAS, in a 1929 cartoon Dr. Seuss made for Judges' magazine, he depicts a group of thick-lipped Black men up for sale to White men. The sign above the caption reads "Take Home a High Grade Nigger for Your Wood Pile." Some of the other captions he used of Black people were advertising for Flit ads that featured racist and xenophobic depictions of Arabs, Muslims, and Black people as caricatures or monkeys in subservient positions to White men. In 1928, the first ever artwork that he signed as "Dr. Seuss," he drew a racist cartoon of a Japanese woman and children. The caption spells the word children as "childlen," which reflected the stereotype that Japanese people could not say their "r's" His depiction of Japanese people has been rationalized as "war hysteria;" however, his cartoon precedes his anti-Japanese propaganda during World War II; and
WHEREAS, in Dr. Seuss publication for Dartmouth Outing Club's program he featured stereotypical depictions of Indigenous people with large feather headdresses, long pipes, and nearly naked in the snow. Dr. Seuss' 1933 Life magazine spread featured Orientalist depictions of men in turbans and men riding camels. He published a series of advertisements for Essomarine Oils & Greases featuring Black people with ape face or as monkeys and cannibals in grass skirts. His dehumanization of Black people continued in a decade in which there were an average of 10 lynching of Black people per year. His cartoons for PM exhibited explicit anti-Japanese racism and depicted Japanese and Japanese Americans as a violent threat to the United States and were drawn with pig snouts, as snakes, monkeys, or cats, and they were referred to as "Jap;" and
WHEREAS, The Cat in the Hat is the second best-selling Dr. Seuss book of all time, after Green Eggs and Ham, and the ninth best-selling children's book of all time. Extensive research on the racialized origins of The Cat in the Hat indicate it was "inspired by blackface performance" which demeans, offends, and disrespects the racial group who is being black faced, "racist images in popular culture, and actual African Americans;" and
WHEREAS, according to Baron and Banaji, "children report negative explicit attitudes toward out-group members at age three" and when exposed to racism and prejudice at this age, they tend to embrace and accept it, even though they might not understand these feelings and "by age six, White North American children have already developed a pro-White/Anti-black bias;" and
WHEREAS, research shows that children's books provides "impressions and messages that can last a lifetime, and shapes how children see and understand themselves, their homes, communities, world and that text accompanied with imagery such as books with pictures, shapes children racial attitudes." Research also shows that when children's books are "centered in whiteness that erases people of color" and other oppressed and marginalized groups, or "presents people of color in a stereotypical, dehumanizing, or subordinate ways, they both ingrain and reinforce internalized racism" and White superiority/privilege; and
WHEREAS, it is well documented that textbooks and classroom teachings are written and taught from a European/White/Caucasian perspectives and that "White privilege permeates education." These systems put in place for centuries continues, including the way teachers are trained, how they interact with students, the mindset of compliance and obedience, are all centered in whiteness. As students of color try to navigate this system, their voices aren't heard because they are often seen as contrary to education rather than being seen as a strength of their diversity; and
WHEREAS, ethnic and racial disparities must be recognized by the dominant group, presently represented by White/Anglo as those in positions of power and confronted by people of color in order for real alliances for social justice to exist; and
WHEREAS, it is reported that "one out of every four children born in the United States receives as its first book a Dr. Seuss book;" and
WHEREAS, dehumanizing, and degrading any group cannot be normalized, defended as "a product of his time," justified and/or minimized and research shows the majority of Dr. Seuss books spanning seven decades reinforces White superiority/privilege, stereotypes, dehumanizes and degrades people of color; and
WHEREAS, Ishizuda and Stephens conducted extensive research on Dr. Seuss' work in "The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White" and in 2017 their findings were presented to the National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America (RAA) Advisory Committee advocating that they reconsider their 20 year focus on Dr. Seuss and use the NEA's platform to promote anti-racism and feature diverse books by authors of color. And in 2018, the NEA transitioned away from Dr. Seuss books, changed their theme, removed all Dr. Seuss books from their annual RAA calendar, and featured all diverse books at their RAA events.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that National Association for the Advancement of Colored People call on the Superintendent of Education of each State/District/County or Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to draft and implement guidelines on the appropriateness of Dr. Seuss books and other published works and evaluate the validity of whether his publications are dehumanizing, degrading, and harmful to African American, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Asians, Indigenous people, Jewish, Arabs and Muslim people and all people of color.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People informs and provide guidelines to all Branches, Units, College Chapters, and Education Chairs on working with the Superintendent of Education of each State/District/County or Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to draft and implement guidelines on the appropriateness of Dr. Seuss books and his other published works.