THE stepdaughter of world-renowned children's author Dr Seuss has come to his defense, insisting the late writer was not a racist.
Lark Grey Dimond-Cates made the claims after six of the author's books were pulled from publication on Tuesday because of alleged racism.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises – a company that oversees the legacy of the author, whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel – said the titles "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
Speaking to the New York Post, Dimond-Cates said: "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."
Dimond-Cates did, however, accept that the choice to remove the six books from publication as a "wise decision," adding that she hoped the titles would eventually go back into publication “because his body of work is unique.”
The six books that will cease publication are: "The Cat’s Quizzer," "If I Ran the Zoo," "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," "McElligot’s Pool," "On Beyond Zebra!" and "Scrambled Eggs Super!"
Dimond-Cates, a sculptor living in California, said: "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.
"This is just very difficult, painful times that we live in.
"We’re taking that into account and being thoughtful. We don’t want to upset anybody."
On Tuesday, the Biden administration also faced questions surrounding the embattled author, whose works have come under fire in recent years for their portrayals of blacks, Asians and other groups.
“Mulberry Street,” for example, contains a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice, who, in the page's the text, is called “A Chinese man Who eats with sticks.”
A paper on Geisel’s work that was published in the journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature also pointed out how Asian characters were described as "helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant" from "countries no one can spell."
March 2 is known as Read Across America Day – a National Education Association-sponsored event that coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss – but Biden did not mention the author in his proclamation.
This approach contrasted those of previous presidents Trump and Obama, who both mentioned Dr. Seuss during their proclamations.
In 2014, President Obama said Dr. Seuss, who would have been 117 today, called "us to open our minds, to take responsibility for ourselves and our planet."
Taking questions on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it is "important that children of all backgrounds see themselves in the children’s books that they read."
DROPPED BY BIDEN
Psaki said she was responsible for writing the president's proclamation to the Department of Education.
The works of Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991, have been translated into dozens of languages and sold in more than 100 countries.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said of the decision to pull six titles: "Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families."
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According to reports, the author's works remain popular, earning around $33 million before taxes in 2020.
That figure is up from $9.5 million five years ago, with Forbes listing the author as the second-highest-paid dead celebrity of 2020, ranking Seuss only behind the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Following Tuesday's announcement, Dr. Suess books filled more than half of Amazon's bestseller list in the U.S.