Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Racism, Growth of an Author/Illustrator, and Context: A Museum and Children's Book Creators Grapple with the "right" thing to do

So the Dr. Seuss museum had a mural painted on a main museum wall, illustrations from Dr. Seuss' first book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.." (Mulberry street is only blocks from the museum's Springfield, Massachusetts location.) These illustrations included what today is understood to be a racist stereotype of a Chinese man.

Three children's book creators, Lisa Yee, Mike Curato, and Mo Willems were invited to a festival at the museum. They pulled out to protest the museum's lack of context for the mural, protesting the idea that the image would be seen by children and not interpreted in the scope of Dr. Seuss' evolution as an artist and a human being.

The festival was cancelled and the mural will be "replaced."

It's been reported in multiple sources, but I'd suggest you read the very well-considered post about this at Grace Lin's blog here.

It's interesting to consider both our power as children's book creators and how people (and even institutions) can evolve over time and go from buying into racial stereotypes to promoting tolerance, acceptance, and even celebrating differences.

Illustrate and Write On,

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