Published October 07, 2017
A Massachusetts museum dedicated to Dr. Seuss says it will replace a mural featuring a Chinese character from one of his books after three authors said they would boycott an event due to the "jarring racial stereotype."
The mural, located in the author’s hometown of Springfield, features illustrations from the author's first children's book, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street."
Three children's authors declined an invitation to the museum's inaugural Children's Literature Festival, which was set for Oct. 14 before being canceled. After the museum offered to take down the mural, the authors said they would attend, but the museum has not said if the festival is back on.
Authors Mo Willems, Mike Curato and Lisa Yee signed a letter and posted it to social media explaining why they take issue with the mural's depiction.
"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 Mullberry 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," the complaint reads. "We find this caricature of 'the Chinaman' deeply hurtful, and we have concerns about children's exposure to it."
The Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno slammed the authors’ criticism and museum’s decision to remove the mural, asking “where do we draw the line?”
“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 Thursday that the mural will be replaced by images from later books.
"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," a statemen from the Museum read, via MassLive. "Dr. Seuss would have loved to be a part of this dialogue for change. In fact, Ted Geisel himself said, 'It's not how you start that counts. It's what you are at the finish.'"
The image in question can be seen in the video above.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.