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The Kerfuffle Around Dr. Seuss

As of March 2nd, six Dr. Seuss books have been pulled from the shelves. His first book, “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street”, along with “If I Ran The Zoo”, “McElligot’s Pool”, “The Cat’s Quizzer”, “Scrambled Eggs Super!”, and “On Beyond Zebra!” have all been removed from publication, due to racist content contained within the books. This removal has caused an incredible fuss, with some people supporting the removal and others in an uproar over censorship issues. But what do those who were close with Dr. Seuss himself have to say?

“There wasn’t a racist bone in that man’s body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much.” That’s his stepdaughter, Leagrey Dimond. “He was a man of his times who moved with his times, and he ultimately transcended his times.”

Dimond, a retired bookstore owner living in San Francisco, acknowledges the racist caricatures in her stepfather’s work, and cannot stand that they exist out in the world. But she continues striving to uphold Dr. Seuss’ good name. “I say, look at the arc of this work,” she says. “It’s important to put him in his time, and in his time, he had regrets.”

Dr. Seuss never set out to write morals into his stories ("kids can see a moral coming a mile off” he says), though he may have ended up teaching children one of the most important lessons of all times, without even knowing it. And it has nothing to do with racism, hatred, or bigotry, but rather, forgiveness. The idea that there is more than just good and evil, that our world is not as dichotomized as we make it out to be. That good people can make bad mistakes, but still be good at heart. There is no doubt these books provide racist portrayals. But they also provide a wonderful opportunity to teach our children how to look at the whole picture, to be critical thinkers, and come to their own opinions. To teach them to be people who care, a whole awful lot.

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