Dr. Seuss’s complicated past

Did you know Dr. Seuss had a stint as a political cartoonist? I think I remember covering this back in the day, but we’ve all aged and probably spent those brain cells in wine and other attempts at self-medication, so here it is again, it all its bizarrely contradictory (sometimes progressive, sometimes downright racist) glory.

Minear also pointed to Seuss’s sympathetic view of black Americans with one image dated 1942.

“He has one cartoon of a U.S. War Industry building, surrounded by a maze,” he said. “And if you enter the door, there’s no way you can get to the factory. And over the door it says ‘Negro Job Hunters Enter Here.'”

The old run-around, June 26, 1942, Dr. Seuss Political Cartoons. (Special Collection & Archives, UC San Diego Library)
Unfortunately, Minear said, Seuss did have an “Achilles heel”: stereotypical and offensive portrayals of Japanese people.

Unlike his diverse and varied portrayals of black Americans and Jews, Seuss used a “cookie-cutter face with a moustache and glass-bottle eyeglasses” to depict Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans, Minear said.

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