Controversy continues over mural at Dr. Seuss museum - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Controversy continues over mural at Dr. Seuss museum

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The Springfield Museums is under fire after three authors refused to read their own works at the museum because of a mural in the Dr. Seuss museum. 

The mural depicts a Chinese man and the authors said that that it's an offensive caricature. 

The three authors involved sent a letter to the Springfield Museums, as well as posted it on social media.  They wouldn't step foot in the museum to read their own books unless that mural was gone. 

Mike Curato, Mo Willems, and Lisa Yee are all children's authors who were invited to read their work on October 14 at the Dr. Seuss Museum.

However, last week, they sent out a letter refusing to go because of the mural depicting Dr. Seuss' first book, "And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street," a book based on his hometown of Springfield. 

The letter signed by all three authors mentions the illustration of a Chinese man and that it is offensive to them and dangerous for children. In their letter they say.

"Within the selected art is a jarring racial stereotype of a Chinese man, who is depicted with chopsticks a pointed hat, and slanted slit eyes. We find this caricature of 'the Chinaman' deeply hurtful, and have concerns about children's exposure to it," the authors wrote in the joint letter.

They said in their letter that they voiced this concern to the museum, but they were not satisfied citing lack of context with this character. They explained, "Displaying imagery this offensive damages not only Asian American children, but also non-Asian kids who absorb this caricature and could associate it with all Asians or their Asian neighbors and classmates."

Curato, Willems, and Yee did not respond to any of Western Mass News's requests for comment. 

The Springfield Museums, however, did say that they will change the mural posting on Facebook for all of their patrons: "We have already begun working with an artist to create a new design, which prominently features scenes from the book as well as a procession of beloved characters created by Dr. Seuss over the course of his career."

Over the weekend, local business owners offered to purchase the mural and display it in Springfield within one of their businesses in a last ditch effort to save it. 

Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee offered to purchase the mural from the museum. 

"It's political correctness gone nuts.  You have three people that may find something offensive with this.  Millions of kids have read this book, have grown up with it for the last 80 years. This exact book with the same illustration is in thousands of libraries all over the world.  We're going to take out a mural?" Picknelly said Monday.

They hope that the museum and Dr. Seuss Enterprises will allow them to keep the mural in Springfield.  They said that it's an important part of this city's history. 

"We certainly hope that the museum and Dr. Seuss Enterprises agrees and leaves the mural exactly where it's at, but if for some reason they want to take it down, we really don't want it destroyed.  We will buy it," Picknelly explained.

Western Mass News reached out to the museum to see if they would consider selling the mural to the community.  They stated: "The mural is not for sale.  All rights for the images in the museum are owned by Dr. Seuss Enterprises."

However, whether or not they will grant consent is still up in the air.

Picknelly said that this mural represents a very important part of Springfield. 

"What's more innocent, what's more American than Dr. Seuss?" Picknelly said.

There's no word yet from Dr. Seuss Enterprises if they are considering selling the mural.

Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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