A museum dedicated to Dr. Seuss in Springfield, Massachusetts, said it would remove a mural depicting a Chinese character featured in one of his books after three authors claimed the image was a “jarring racial stereotype.”
The three authors who claimed that the image reinforces racial stereotypes said they would boycott the museum’s first-ever Children’s Literature Festival, which was slated for October 14 before organizers canceled the event, Fox News reports.
The mural contains illustrations from Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
Authors Mike Curato, Mo Willems, and Lisa Yee signed a letter that said the illustrations portray “deeply hurtful” racial stereotypes about the Chinese. The complaint posted to Twitter reads:
We recently learned that a key component of this institution honoring Dr. Seuss features a mural depicting a scene from his first book, ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ and within the selected art is a jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man, who is depicted with chopsticks, a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes. We find this caricature of ‘the Chinaman’ deeply hurtful, and we have concerns about children’s exposure to it.
When the museum offered to remove the mural, the authors said they would stop their boycott and attend the event.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno criticized the authors’ letter and slammed the museum’s decision to take down the mural.
“This is political correctness at its worst, and this is what is wrong with our country,” he said in a statement, according to WWLP. “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.”
The museum said in a statement Thursday that images from Dr. Seuss’s later works would replace the mural.
“This is what Dr. Seuss would have wanted us to do. His later books, like ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who,’ showed a great respect for fairness and diversity,” the statement read, according to MassLive.
Others have also accused Dr. Seuss’s works as being racist. An elementary school teacher rejected a donation of Dr. Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump because she felt the books contained illustrations “steeped in racist propaganda.”