Time to look at another one of the six pulled Dr Seuss books. This one might be the most famous. Originally published in 1937, when these six books were pulled Mulberry Street rang familiar to many people.
It’s a cute story. A little boy walks to school and his walk is boring. So he makes up an elaborate parade of vehicles and people that travel by him as he walks along Mulberry Street. As the book goes on the cast of characters grows larger and larger. He rushes home to tell his dad this absurd tale of his own fantasy but loses all of his confidence before his father. Kind of a sad ending really.
But why are we here? What is the offensive image this time? Well, Dr Seuss portrays an Asian person in a questionable way yet again.
There he is, in the bottom left corner. “A Chinese boy who eats with sticks.” There are 23 humans on this page. The only one with any color other than the white of the page is the Chinese boy who is yellow. This yellow depiction keeps coming up in Dr Seuss’s works. But in his defense, in 1937 this depiction of anyone Asian was every where. That isn’t excusing or justifying it. However, that was the attitude of much of the world during World War II. Yes, he is Chinese not Japanese but many people then and now aren’t concerned with national origins and instead share their stereotypes for a general region of the planet.
In more recent printings this image has been replaced with “a Chinese man who eats with sticks”. He is as white as any other person on the page, and the long ponytail is gone. It’s better but I still wouldn’t call it good.
Also, as with many of the other pulled books, nothing about this image is essential to the story. This could easily be edited out and some sort of replacement rhyming character put in there. The larger story of Mulberry street would not be effected or changed at all. The human characters in Dr Seuss are largely colorless except for these images. They wouldn’t look so bad if there were other Asian, Black, Latin, etc boys and girls shown as equal and the same to Peter, Gerald, and who ever else has an adventure with their imaginations.