Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Go down

Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:29 pm

A pair of siblings in Southern California used their school’s “Dr. Seuss Week” celebration as an opportunity to educate their fellow students on the author’s problematic past.

Last week, a South Pasadena elementary school celebrated “Dr. Seuss Week” in conjunction with Read Across America Day, which takes place annually on the author’s birthday. Two students, 11-year-old Rockett and 10-year-old Zoe, were upset to learn that their classmates didn’t seem to know about the racist streak in the cartoonist’s early work.

Before he rose to fame with his children’s books, Dr. Seuss (born Theodor Seuss Geisel) drew a number of political cartoons during World War II. Many of these drawings featured racist portrayals of Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans. The cartoons ranged from stereotypical caricatures to fear-inducing propaganda that vilified people of Japanese descent and justified their internment.


UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO LIBRARY
Many people aren’t aware of Dr. Seuss’ racist propaganda, which fueled support for policies like Japanese internment. 

Rockett’s and Zoe’s dad, Steve Wong, is the curator at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles and also teaches Asian American History as an adjunct professor at Pasadena City College. “Early on, my wife and I have instilled in them to have a strong moral compass and sense of justice,” Steve told The Huffington Post.
Aware of Dr. Seuss’ complicated past, Steve and his wife Leslie read the author’s famous books to Zoe and Rockett. “I still remember trying to read Hop on Pop to my to kids as an exhausted father and falling asleep while reading it to them,” he recalled. About two years ago, Leslie taught their kids about Dr. Seuss’ racist cartoons and role in swaying public opinion of the incarceration of Japanese Americans. Knowing this piece of history, Zoe and Rockett decided to share the information about the ionic author’s past with their classmates during Dr. Seuss Week. Together, they created informational fliers to pass out at school.


STEVE WONG
Zoe and Rockett made informational fliers about this aspect of Dr. Seuss’ past to pass out at school. In addition to his racist depictions of Japanese people, the cartoonist also portrayed Africans as monkeys and savages.


When Zoe distributed the fliers to her classmates, she received mixed reactions. “Most people agreed that his cartoons were wrong and racist,” she told HuffPost. “Most people didn’t know this and thought it was very interesting, while some people did know but still liked it.” Some students accused Zoe of spreading a fake rumor, tore up the fliers in front of her and told their teacher, who instructed her to stop passing them out.
Rockett said his teacher confiscated his fliers, “raised her voice” in disapproval and reported the incident to the principal. “I only got to hand out one because my teacher took them away, but that one person said it was interesting.” Added Steve, “Rockett was mad that he was censored, but ultimately he was ‘whatever’ about the whole ordeal.” Zoe had a more emotional experience.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO LIBRARY
The siblings faced opposition when they tried to teach their classmates about this history.

”Zoe’s teacher ‘neutrally’ told her to stop passing out the fliers, and that the request came from the principal after being notified by Rockett’s teacher,” Steve explained. “Knowing the principal was involved, Zoe was fearful the following days that she was going to get into trouble at school for her actions, and told her mom that she cried several times the first day.” Zoe told HuffPost she wasn’t surprised some people had negative reactions but was “shocked” to learn the flier had spread to the principal and that she had caused such a problem for the teachers. “It wounded me more when friends told me that multiple girls told on me,” she said.
Still, the little girl found comfort in the friends that supported her. “People who truly agreed helped me be brave for getting in trouble and pushed me to go farther with the fliers,” she recalled.

Following the incident, Steve claimed that Rockett’s teacher sent the following email to him and his wife:
Hello Mr. and Mrs. Wong,
This morning, Rockett came to school with a stack of flyers to hand out regarding Dr. Suess. While he is absolutely entitled to his own thoughts and opinions, school is not the appropriate place for him to hand these flyers out. I am going to send them home with him today after school. I do applaud his civic mindedness.



The dad said he wrote this lengthy response:
I do want to begin my response to your email, and our children’s actions of creating the flyer, by stating that we appreciate the non-racist work of Dr. Seuss. We have a collection of his books in home and we read many on them often to our kids when they were younger. A couple of years ago, we wanted to balance our love for Seuss Geisel’s creativity by exposing our children to the darker side of his early racist works. So while we still respect his art, our family understands that Seuss Geisel, like many others we hold in high esteem, can indeed have a sordid past. Rockett wanted a way to express this to his classmates, and we gave him and his sister the okay to create something to achieve this goal of educating people about Geisel’s past racism. They came up with the flyer on their own without much oversight on my own. Nonetheless, Leslie and I approved what they were doing and are ultimately the ones to be held accountable.

Rockett and Zoe’s great-grandmother and great-grandfather who are still with us today, along with 120,000 innocent others (most of them American citizens), were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to U.S. concentration camps due to lack of leadership, rampant racism, and war hysteria. There was no basis or evidence of Japanese Americans involved in any espionage, and the U.S. has since apologized for the unconstitutional act against its own American citizens. However it is important to understand that Seuss Geisel, helped fuel that racism and war hysteria with many racist cartoons that he published during that time. His cartoons targeting Japanese Americans directly contributed to the public support of Executive Order 9066 (the executive order that incarcerated Japanese Americans). This is not an opinion, much like Hitler’s anti-Semitism is not an opinion, for Geisel’s hatred of Japanese is well documented, and is chronicled in American history books. Unfortunately our family has had a direct impact and has suffered directly from Geisel’s cartoons.

We understand it is in your opinion that school is not for this type of “educational” encounter that Rockett attempted to present today. Perhaps trying to educate his fellow classmates with a flyer may have been a little unconventional and has placed you in an uncomfortable position. We respect your opinion and authority of what is deemed appropriate in your classroom, much as I would expect the same in my classroom, and will of course defer to you about what is appropriate. However I do have to say I disagree in principal with your standpoint that “school” is not the appropriate place to disseminate new, or differing ideas. America’s educational intuitions should pride themselves as space for critical thought, as an environment to think outside the box, as an instution to understand that the arts, science, and history (including our American heroes) are not one dimensional subjects with only one narrative, but subjects with differing intersectional layers. As a teacher myself, I try to create a space where students can critically challenge assumptions, a space where students can question history, science, math, a space to propose a new perspective on older models. I was taught in school that the incarceration of Japanese Americans was for their own good. I wish that someone had challenged that perspective.

This is not to say that Geisel did not have a change of heart later in life. Perhaps he was just keeping up with the times when racial intolerance became distasteful in America, nonetheless he did make that turn. If I did have more oversight I would have insisted that they include his turnaround. However, we trusted that the kids did adequate research and based the flyer in facts.

We do appreciate that you applaud Rockett for his civic mindedness, and we appreciate the education you are providing him. I apologize for the length of this email, but I thought it was important to convey.
Sincerely,
Steve

The kids’ elementary school is a “fairly progressive” public school, said Steve, noting that the website boasts of its ethnic and cultural diversity and strong community ties. Notably, the school emphasizes its “Core Values,” which are respect, integrity and diversity. “Schools should be a space for critical thought, especially in these new times,” Steve explained. “Rockett was first inspired to do something about Dr Seuss week because of these core values.”
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO LIBRARY
“Schools should be a space for critical thought, especially in these new times,” said Steve.
Added Rockett, “Drawing racist cartoons are not respectful, do not show integrity and hurt people that are different than you. It does not show diversity because it is trying to gain anger against a person because of their differences.” The elementary schooler said he wishes his teacher had allowed him to pass out the fliers, or used the incident as a teaching moment to share a lesson about this piece of history. The school did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. “I hope that people learn that Dr. Seuss was not perfect and that he drew racist cartoons,” said Rockett. “I also hope that people will learn that everyone has a dark side and that nobody, not even very famous people, are perfect.” Both siblings also noted that Dr. Seuss [url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/Both siblings also noted that Dr. Seuss later expressed remorse TK.]reportedly later expressed remorse[/url] for his depiction of Japanese people and tried to make up for it with his later work.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO LIBRARY
Rockett believes sharing this history was in line with his school’s values.

Zoe said she was “shocked,” “speechless” and “very curious” when she first learned about Dr. Seuss’ racist cartoons. She expected her classmates to have a similar reaction. “I just wanted to inform them and meant no harm,” she said. “I didn’t want people to deeply hate him for what he did. After all, he regretted his cartoons.” “In my opinion we didn’t violate any rules or core values,” she added. “Doing this gave me a big lesson: In life, you will always have to take risks, and there are always consequences for having a voice and doing what you believe in.”




http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kids-use-dr-seuss-week-to-teach-classmates-about-his-racist-cartoons_us_58b99751e4b0b9989417281f?section=us_good-news

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by eddie on Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:25 pm

He wrote some fantastic books for kids. I don't think I really care what he once said, loads of people find humour in lots of jokes like that - doesn't make them racist.

_________________
”Some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal” ~ Albert Camus
avatar
eddie
King of Beards. Keeper of the Whip. Top Chef. BEES!!!!!! Mushroom muncher. Spider aficionado!

Posts : 35572
Join date : 2013-07-28
Age : 48
Location : England

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 08, 2017 7:52 pm

eddie wrote:He wrote some fantastic books for kids. I don't think I really care what he once said, loads of people find humour in lots of jokes like that - doesn't make them racist.


Not being funny Eddie, but how can you claim it would be funny, if you were as a people on the end of such a hateful stereotype?

Are you claiming the above caricatures, used to demonize Japanese are not racist?

Many of his books are good, but where in this case they should rightly be condemn. Especially, when they were used to whip on anti Japanese sentiment. Where American Japanese suffered from this in the US during WW2. As many were interned in internment camps, simply because they were ethnically Japanese. The kids were right to hand out leaflets and it was wrong, by the school to shut this down.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by eddie on Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:06 pm

I've been in a room full of black and white people and we've had some hilarious banter so no, I don't think you can speak for everyone.

_________________
”Some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal” ~ Albert Camus
avatar
eddie
King of Beards. Keeper of the Whip. Top Chef. BEES!!!!!! Mushroom muncher. Spider aficionado!

Posts : 35572
Join date : 2013-07-28
Age : 48
Location : England

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:09 pm

eddie wrote:I've been in a room full of black and white people and we've had some hilarious banter so no, I don't think you can speak for everyone.


Again how can you say, when you have never known what this is like?
How others perceiving is not you on the end of this.
The kids may not even understand fully what is wrong in the pictures either, but enough to see this making fun of Japanese people in a very bad light. Do you understand what 5th column is or TNT?
How do then parents explain this to children that ask what that means?
I fail to see what is funny about those pictures that were used to demonize American Japanese, who suffered then because of this being interned in Internment camps.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by veya_victaous on Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:51 pm

Seuss was racist as a political cartoonist,
his racism didn't necessarily follow into his Children's books

And Eddie Having banter and people liking those jokes doesn't in any way stop them being racist. They are racist caricatures that is all there is to it. And they WHERE created with the intent of encouraging racist feeling towards those groups. that 5th column comic was created to encourage Japanese interment (or worse) wouldn't matter how naturalized your Japanese friend was Seuss wanted them in Jail or killed because they were Japanese.

Laughing at a racist joke doesn't necessarily make you racist but promoting them as accurate social commentary does. the Repeated use also makes it Racism, the targeting towards a few specific groups that you don't belong to is also prejudice.
A lot has to do with the intent and integrity of the joke teller. Which gets more complex with distributed media where intents are not transferred, friends might know you're not racist and just joking, but to say the same thing to strangers with the excuse 'my black friend though it was funny' just doesn't cut it. Comparing publications to a conversation with friends is a false comparison.

_________________
My job is to travel the world delivering Chaos and Candy.

We don't know the Questions... does that means we cannot seek the Answers?
avatar
veya_victaous
The Mod Loki, Minister of Chaos & Candy, Emperor of the Southern Realms, Captain Kangaroo

Posts : 18393
Join date : 2013-01-23
Age : 35
Location : Australia

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by eddie on Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:11 pm

As you said, those pictures were not for children so I'm only commenting upon the fact that he wrote great children's books.
And people can draw those kind of cartoons and still not have a racist bone in their bodies. In fact, I have quite often found that people who can make those kind of jokes are far less bothered about colour than some who protest far too much. And that goes for all races of people

_________________
”Some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal” ~ Albert Camus
avatar
eddie
King of Beards. Keeper of the Whip. Top Chef. BEES!!!!!! Mushroom muncher. Spider aficionado!

Posts : 35572
Join date : 2013-07-28
Age : 48
Location : England

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:41 pm

eddie wrote:As you said, those pictures were not for children so I'm only commenting upon the fact that he wrote great children's books.
And people can draw those kind of cartoons and still not have a racist bone in their bodies. In fact, I have quite often found that people who can make those kind of jokes are far less bothered about colour than some who protest far too much. And that goes for all races of people

You never read the article did you Eddie.
Its clear he was racist and later showed remorse for what he did.
Please stop trying to normalize racism in any shape or form. No matter how it comes out, its always hateful ignorance.

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by eddie on Thu Mar 09, 2017 2:00 pm

No I didn't read the article and if he was a racist then he's prick.
Still was a good author of children's books though. I can't unlike them.

_________________
”Some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal” ~ Albert Camus
avatar
eddie
King of Beards. Keeper of the Whip. Top Chef. BEES!!!!!! Mushroom muncher. Spider aficionado!

Posts : 35572
Join date : 2013-07-28
Age : 48
Location : England

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Guest on Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:22 pm

eddie wrote:No I didn't read the article and if he was a racist then he's prick.
Still was a good author of children's books though. I can't unlike them.

Never asked you to unlike his books Eddie.
Not at any point, did I say that.

Hey ho

Guest
Guest


Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by veya_victaous on Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:52 am

eddie wrote:No I didn't read the article and if he was a racist then he's prick.
Still was a good author of children's books though. I can't unlike them.

Yeah he was a prick, I think he mellowed with age Suspect

He really did promote the internment of Japanese Americans at the beginning of ww2, so those cartoon are not meant to be 'funny' so much as inspire fear an hate towards the Japanese. His African American ones could be argued are just a product of his time Suspect Suspect

_________________
My job is to travel the world delivering Chaos and Candy.

We don't know the Questions... does that means we cannot seek the Answers?
avatar
veya_victaous
The Mod Loki, Minister of Chaos & Candy, Emperor of the Southern Realms, Captain Kangaroo

Posts : 18393
Join date : 2013-01-23
Age : 35
Location : Australia

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by WhoseYourWolfie on Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:57 am

Arrow

All of those cartoons shown were effectivley "product of their time"...

There was no actual 'humour' intended in those --  WWII propaganda (people running scared of possible invasion;  cartoonists "doing their bit" for the war effort..);  as for the racist comments on negroes --  the USA was still affected by fallout from the Civil war, southerners who still yearned for 'the good ol days' when they could buy and sell people, and the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. While over in post-colonial Africa, the continent was squeezed between German-Italian invasion in the north, corporate thuggery and petty dictators throughout, and civil unrest and domestic unrest down throgh the continent..

I've also seen equally bad and distateful cartoons from Aussie and British cartoonists from the 1930s, '40s and 50s...


There are also plenty of examples of equally racist, bigoted. xenophobic and sexist accepted/mainstream/'establishment' writings from authors such as Henry Lawson, Rudyard Kipling  and W.E. Johns(the 'Biggles' series), and plenty of other authors and artists from the 19th and 20th centuries..        study

_________________
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Our life is frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify.
The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation.
Henry David Thoreau
avatar
WhoseYourWolfie

Posts : 6068
Join date : 2016-02-24
Age : 60
Location : Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Original Quill on Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:59 pm

Gd. point, Wolf.  My father was deployed on an aircraft carrier with the seventh fleet in the Pacific during the war.  He kept a file of correspondence with various people...I inherited it.

My older brother was 10-11 years old at the time.  Today he's a retired professor at Berkeley and one of the most liberal, progressive people you would meet.  But in that file, that 11-year old was venting the most venomous things about "those *&%#@! Japs."  

It was the times...and we were at war.  You should see some of the prurient British poster ads about jack-booted Germans and what they were depicted doing to bare breasted schoolgirls.  They were 'simpler times' and things were easily reduced to elementary good and bad.

_________________
“Little thieves are hanged, but great thieves are praised.” — Old Russian proverb, offered by Vladimir Putin to Donald J. Trump, Helsinki, July, 2018.

"I don't stand by anything."  ― Donald Trump, interview with John Dickerson, 5.1.17...

“That's libertarians for you — anarchists who want police protection from their slaves.” ― Kim Stanley Robinson, Green Mars
avatar
Original Quill

Posts : 24624
Join date : 2013-12-19
Age : 53
Location : Northern California

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Kids Use ‘Dr. Seuss Week’ To Teach Classmates About His Racist Cartoons

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum