News, Culture & Society

Michelle Obama mocked for reading ‘racist’ Dr Seuss books

Michelle Obama has become a target for mockery in the wake of a spat between First Lady Melania Trump and a Massachusetts school librarian.

In an open letter on Tuesday, Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro rejected a gift of several Dr Seuss books, saying their whimsical illustrations were ‘steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes’.

Now Twitter users – armed with photos of Michelle Obama reading Dr Seuss books to children during her time in the White House – are mocking those claims. 

 

Twitter users shared images of Michelle Obama reading out Dr Seuss books in the wake of a Massachusetts school librarian’s decision to refuse to take the ‘racist’ volumes

On Tuesday, Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro wrote an open letter in which she refused to take the books offered to her school by Melania Trump

On Tuesday, Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro wrote an open letter in which she refused to take the books offered to her school by Melania Trump

The First Lady gave one school in each state ten books from the beloved author's catalog

Soeiro turned them away for being 'racist propaganda' and having 'harmful stereotypes'

The First Lady (left) gave one school in each state ten books from the beloved author’s catalog. Soeiro (right) turned them away for being ‘racist propaganda’ and having ‘harmful stereotypes’

Earlier this month, the White House announced that one school in each state would receive a selection of Seuss’ books chosen by Melania, including ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat’.

But Soeiro turned down the collection of almost a dozen books, saying in the open letter her school was award-winning and well-funded.

She continued: ‘You may not be aware of this, but Dr Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature.’

She added: ‘Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. 

‘Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art.’

Neither of those books were included in Melania’s selection.

Noting that Michelle Obama had also read the books to children, Trump supporters took to Twitter to ask why this had only become a problem now.

Fans of Donald Trump questioned why Michelle Obama had read out the stories if the book was considered racist 

Fans of Donald Trump questioned why Michelle Obama had read out the stories if the book was considered racist 

This user shared a video clip of Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia reading from The Cat in the Hat, which critics say is based on minstrel stereotypes

This user shared a video clip of Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia reading from The Cat in the Hat, which critics say is based on minstrel stereotypes

‘Dr. Seuss ok when Michelle Obama read it to children but now has racist undertones when our First Lady donates books?’ asked Vanessa Vega. ‘Unreal.’

MELANIA’S BOOKS

The ten books offered to schools were: 

  • Seuss-isms! 
  • Because a Little Bug Went KaChoo
  • What Pet Should I Get?
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • The Foot Book
  • Wacky Wednesday
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

‘Barack & Michelle Obama Share “Racist” Dr Suess Books with Kids. Remember the Outrage?’ asked Glen Woodfin. Both included images of Michelle Obama reading from the books.

One use calling himself ‘”Gitmo” Bama’ wrote: ‘OUTRAGEOUS! @MichelleObama & her daughters read ‘cat in the hat’ to a bunch of white supremacist in Johannesburg.’

That was accompanied by a video of Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama all reading out the book to a group of children. 

Although the dispute has only been between Soeiro and the First Lady, some seemed to think that Soeiro’s position was representative of all on the left. 

‘MUST DISAVOW: Michelle Obama spewing racist hate speech to children…. God help us! Liberalism is TRULY a brain disorder,’ wrote Jared Hill. 

The Obamas have not weighed in on the controversy, which centers solely around Soeiro. 

Many users feigned shock that Michelle Obama had 'supported racist books' although the Obamas have not weighed in on the controversy, which centers solely around Soeiro

Many users feigned shock that Michelle Obama had ‘supported racist books’ although the Obamas have not weighed in on the controversy, which centers solely around Soeiro

Users complained about the lack of outrage when these photos were taken. Soeiro's school district has distanced itself from her political act

Users complained about the lack of outrage when these photos were taken. Soeiro’s school district has distanced itself from her political act

Republican users were upset about the turn of events, which has been an ongoing topic in national news

Republican users were upset about the turn of events, which has been an ongoing topic in national news

The White House later responded to Soeiro’s remarks in a statement to NBC Boston.

‘Mrs Trump intends to use her platform as First Lady to help as many children as she can,’ said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director.

‘She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to schools across the country is but one example.

‘Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate, but the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.’

The school district later said that Phipps Soeiro ‘was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district,’ adding that her opinions do not reflect that of the school system. 

‘We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,’ the district wrote in a statement.

On Saturday it emerged that Soeiro had dressed up as Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat character just months before refusing the books.

In her open letter to the First Lady, Soeiro had linked to an article titled ‘Is the Cat in the Hat Racist?’ that accused Seuss of ‘blackface minstrelsy’ in creating that character. 

It emerged on Friday that Soeiro had dressed up as The Cat in the Hat - supposedly a minstrel-like character - just months before she refused Melania Trump's gift

It emerged on Friday that Soeiro had dressed up as The Cat in the Hat – supposedly a minstrel-like character – just months before she refused Melania Trump’s gift

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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