Yesterday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises (the organization in charge of the Dr. Seuss literary legacy) announced that it would discontinue the publication of six iconic children’s books, because “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” The six books are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. The decision was made because Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) had used racial stereotypes in these books, portraying Blacks and Asians in demeaning ways.
It has been so long since I’ve read any of these books that I don’t really remember much about the illustrations or racial attitudes. But then, I am neither Black nor Asian. I assume that if he had done the same to Jews, I would remember it clearly, because I am a Jew.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” ~ George Santayana
What hell it must be to be the mother of a black son in this country. I can empathize, but I cannot know in my bones her daily and nightly horrors and fears, the hard realities that blacks and other people of color (POC) have had to deal with for far too long.
I am a privileged white middle-class woman. When I walk in a neighborhood where I’m not known, or go for a drive at night, I take for granted that I’m safe as are most of my family. Does that mean that my liberal foundations are meaningless? I must ask myself: Have I dreamed and wanted change but not done enough? Have any of us done enough? If we had, perhaps we could have prevented the destruction of so many lives… so many deaths.
The hollow statements of support we’ve seen for Black Lives Matter from bureaucrats, corporations and celebrities are meaningless. They change nothing, I look instead for inspiration from declarations such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s statement. SWFA openly recognizes their/our mistakes of the past and has established real plans and changes to affect greater inclusion and diversity within its own ranks. SFWA is putting words into action and money shared.
I must ask myself: What actions can I take? Open my pockets, of course. However, I’m an individual writer with only small donations to give. No, I must do more. I must demand justice and fairness. I must work to end institutional racism and the daily acts of bigotry and evil. My first step is to listen to POCs and respond by doing what they tell me they need. Because at the end of the day, when black mothers are living nightmares I can only imagine, I know that change begins with me, with my actions.
(Essay by Sally Wiener Grotta, republished from Anisfield Wolf website)
In Karen R. Long’s essay What Biases Are You Carrying?, which was posted on the Anisfield Wolf blog, Attorney Louise P. Dempsey was described as having used the following riddle as part of a lunch talk.
A man and his son were in a car accident. The critically injured man had to be helicoptered to the hospital. His son was rushed by ambulance to the same hospital. When the boy was wheeled into emergency surgery, the surgeon looked at him and said, “I can’t operate. This is my son.” The blog then asked the question, “How is this possible?”
If you haven’t heard that anecdotal test before, consider your answer for a few moments before continuing to read.Read More
Thank you Sala Wyman for another very nice review of my novel Jo Joe and a fun interview session….
“Set in a fictional village in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Sally Wiener Grotta takes on the inner shards of racism with her novel Jo Joe, a Black Bear, Pennsylvania Story.
“There are always a couple of ways to deal with the topic of racism and its effects on the victims. One is to just document the facts about oppressors and victims. Another is to take a higher road: the healing of victims, families, and communities. Ms. Grotta beautifully and skillfully takes the high road.Read More
A fellow author whom I respect said to me today, “Despite everything, whenever I imagine a character who hasn’t been fully described in a book, I see him or her as a Caucasian.”
That set me wondering. Is that a touch of racism that he’s admitting to? Or is it simply human nature, to imagine people as being like ourselves?
Then, he went even further. He asked me to look at my social networks, at the profile pictures associated with the thousands of “friends” and “likes” of my various pages and profiles.
I was surprised. Among my social network connections who have an actual photograph rather than an avatar or symbol for their profile pic, the vast majority are white or pale skinned. Not that it’s all vanilla, but the handful of Blacks, Asians and such were so sparse that they seemed to be the exceptions that defined a rule.
My friend’s explanation for it is that we have become more and more tribal as a culture and a country, that everyone tends Read More