Was the Cat in the Hat Black?

Like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat owes a debt to blackface minstrelsy. In my “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Exploring Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination” (in the new issue of Children’s Literature), I explore the implications of this fact.  Here’s the opening paragraph: In 1955, Dr. Seuss and William Spaulding—director of…

“The Boundaries of Imagination”; or, the All-White World of Children’s Books, 2014

Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? — Walter Dean Myers, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” too often today’s books remain blind to the everyday reality of thousands of children. Children of color remain outside the boundaries…

If I Were a Middle-Class White Kid

Gene Marks’ instantly infamous “If I Were a Poor Black Kid” column (Forbes, 12 Dec. 2011) is a classic example of how privilege remains invisible to the privileged.  Though he acknowledges that he is “a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background” and so “life was easier for” him, the…