They will not fete him here or there. They will not fete him anywhere.
A Virginia school district refuses to tout Dr. Seuss’s birthday on Read Across America Day on Tuesday — claiming the famed children author’s work contains “racial undertones” that are not suitable for “culturally responsive” learning, according to the Daily Wire.
Loudoun County Public Schools ordered its teachers to avoid “connecting Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss,” after a study said the author’s work is filled with “orientalism, anti-Blackness and White supremacy,” the outlet reported, quoting the announcement it said the district sent out with the directive.
The under-fire district later said in a statement on Facebook, “Dr. Seuss books have not been banned in Loudoun County Public Schools” — although it did add, “Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss.
“Given this research, and LCPS’ focus on equity and culturally responsive instruction, LCPS provided this guidance to schools during the past couple of years to not connect Read Across America Day exclusively with Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
“We continue to encourage our young readers to read all types of books that are inclusive, diverse and reflective of our student community, not simply celebrate Dr. Seuss,” the school district said.
Read Across America Day, founded by the National Educational Association in 1998, is celebrated on the March 2 birthday of the late author, whose 60 children’s books have sold more than 600 million copies.
“Realizing that many schools continue to celebrate ‘Read Across America Day’ in partial recognition of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is important for us to be cognizant of research that may challenge our practice in this regard,” reads the announcement from Loudon officials obtained by the Daily Wire.
“As we become more culturally responsive and racially conscious, all building leaders should know that in recent years there has been research revealing radical undertones in the books written and the illustrations drawn by Dr. Seuss.”
The Grinchy move by the suburban Washington, DC, district – one of the nation’s wealthiest – comes in response to an article in Learning for Justice, the educational arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Daily Wire said.
The article, entitled “It’s Time to Talk About Dr. Seuss,” cited a St. Catherine University study that found that only 2 percent of Seuss’s human characters were people of color and most of them “exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes.”
The rest of the non-white characters “align with the theme of anti-Blackness,” according to Learning for Justice.
The article even blasts the message of tolerance in Seuss’ series of books about “The Sneetches,” where plain-bellied animals and star-bellied animals learn to accept one another.
“This message of ‘acceptance’ does not acknowledge structural power imbalances. It doesn’t address the idea that historical narratives impact present-day power structures. And instead of encouraging young readers to recognize and take action against injustice, the story promotes a race-neutral approach,” Learning for Justice wrote.
The group claims that only a racial “apologist” who thinks “bigotry doesn’t matter” would defend Dr. Seuss’s work.
Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a political cartoonist and ad man during World War II before publishing his famous books.
Much of his political wartime work promoted racial unity amid the Holocaust, but other cartoons, including crude depictions of interned Japanese-Americans, have been panned as stereotypical and insensitive.
In a 1976 interview with his alma mater, Dartmouth College, Seuss partially apologized for some of his work.
“When I look at them now, they’re hurriedly and embarrassingly badly drawn, and they’re full of many snap judgements that every political cartoonist has to make. … The one thing I do like about them, however, is their honesty and their frantic fervor,” Seuss said, according to the BBC.
Learning for Justice recommends that teachers discuss the author’s “racist” past with older students.