Dr. Seuss' stepdaughter is speaking out to defend the late author following the Monday announcement that six of his books will no longer be published due to racist and insensitive imagery. Leagrey Dimond spoke to TMZ just hours after Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that preserves and protects the author's legacy, announced the decision to pull the six titles, telling the outlet his legacy shouldn't hinge on that alone.
While Dimond acknowledged that some of the late author’s earlier works and illustrations did feature racist imagery, she said his collection of work as a whole "shows he's a good guy and evolved over time." According to Dimond, Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, regretted some of his earlier work that featured blatantly racist drawings of Black and Asian people. She added that despite these "hurtful and wrong" portrayals, they are not emblematic of her stepfather's character.
Dimond went on to suggest an alternative to ceasing publication: adding a disclaimer to the six books in question. In recent years, numerous media companies have done this to address racist depictions in their content. For example, Disney+, Disney's streaming service, added a content warning to several of its animated films, including Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and Lady and the Tramp, warning of "outdated cultural depictions." HBO Max, meanwhile, briefly pulled the U.S. Civil War epic Gone With the Wind due to its "racist depictions" before restoring it to the platform with an added context warning.
At this time, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has made no indication that they would consider changing course and instead add such a warning. The company announced Monday it would cease publication of 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 after consulting with a "panel of experts, including educators." The company said the titles "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
According to another of the late author's stepdaughters, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, she and her family learned of the decision Monday night when Dr. Seuss Enterprises contacted the family. While Dimond-Cates expressed hope that the books will one day be published again, she said the decision to cease publication is "a wise decision. I think this is a world that right now is in pain, and we've all got to be very gentle and thoughtful and kind with each other." She told the New York Post that the late author was “a product of his times, as we all are,” adding that "there wasn't a racist bone in that man's body — he was so acutely aware of the world around him and cared so much."