Sunday, February 24, 2019
Physician, Heal Thyself II
One of the local notables I follow on Twitter is Matthew Winner, a librarian/media specialist in the Howard County Public Schools. In addition to his day job, Mr. Winner hosts a podcast about children’s books and maintains an active social media presence. Yesterday I noticed a discussion in his feed about Dr, Seuss. It starts here.
You will see a discussion between Mr. Winner and an account called @TheTinyDiplomat about Dr. Seuss and Read Across America. It contains a link to this piece:
A Critical Race Reading Of Dr. Seuss
Now, you may have already known about this; I hadn’t. But as I read it I knew it to be true. Dr. Seuss books are completely centered in whiteness and view anything that differs from this norm as exotic, humorous, less competent, sometimes malevolent. He has a history of wearing blackface in minstrel show activities, and, try this on for size: there are absolutely no girls of color in any of his books.
@TheTinyDiplomat is the Twitter account of student Havana Chapman-Edwards. (I’m guessing she has some adult guidance/support here.) Take a look at her video:
The Power of a Girl with a Book.
I was happy to hear from reader Sarah Russo, herself a school librarian/media specialist, that Read Across America has moved away from centering the works of Dr. Seuss in their literacy celebrations. But individual school systems may still be using that old tried and true Dr. Seuss framework. Havana Chapman-Edwards’ school in Virginia is. She’s trying to get them to make a better choice that takes into account all of their students.
I highly recommend that you read A Critical Race Reading of Dr. Seuss and watch The Power Of a Girl with a Book. Once you do I think you’ll understand why Ms. Chapman-Edwards is advocating for a whole lot less Dr. Seuss and an intentional increase of Black Girl Magic.