"It is obviously offensive in 2017"
The Dr Seuss Museum will remove a mural of a Chinese man that has been condemned as “racist”.
The Guardian reports that the Massachusetts museum’s 80-year-old Seuss illustration of an Asian man was condemned for racism.
Illustrator Mo Willems announced that he and two other authors, Lisa Yee and Mike Curato, announced they would boycott a scheduled event at the museum because the mural included a “jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat and slanted slit eyes”.
— Mo Willems’ Pigeon (@The_Pigeon) October 5, 2017
Taken from Seuss’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, the illustration shows an Asian man dressed in a silk robe holding a bowl of rice and chopsticks. The 1937 story follows a boy’s description of what he saw on the walk.
“We find this caricature of ‘the Chinaman’ deeply hurtful and have concerns about children’s exposure to it,” the authors wrote in their joint letter. “While this image may have been considered amusing to some when it was published 80 years ago, it is obviously offensive in 2017.”
On behalf of Dr Seuss Enterprises, Springfield Museums apologised and said it would replace the mural “with a new image that reflects the wonderful characters and messages from Dr Seuss’s later works”.
In a statement read, the museum said “This is what Dr Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, such as The Sneetches and Horton Hears a Who, showed a great respect for fairness and diversity.”
The museum added that Dr Seuss AKA Theodor Seuss Geisel “would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change,” and that Geisel said himself, “It’s not how you start that counts. It’s what you are at the finish.”
Willems, Yee and Curato issued a second letter that thanked the museum’s decision to remove the mural.
Two local businessmen offered to buy the mural if removed. Andy Yee said, “That’s my ancestors coming to this country in the 1930s. We did not come wearing Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Why do you want to change history?”
Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno blasted the decision to remove the illustration, saying: “We should not have acquiesced to these authors’ demands. It’s their choice – their prerogative not to be part of the event. Again, where do we draw the line?”
“This is political correctness at its worst, and this is what is wrong with our country. We have extreme fringe groups on both the right and the left dictating an agenda to divide instead of working together towards the betterment of our country.”
Dr Seuss Enterprises’ president Susan Brandt said an artist was working to replace the illustration. “We are in the process of deciding the best course of action, without censorship, to contextualise any perceived racist content.”