SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Plans to change a controversial mural at the Dr. Seuss Museum are still underway.
The mural features a Chinese character from Dr. Seuss’s first book, which some people have called racially insensitive.
22News spoke to a local professor of Asian descent, to find out what he thinks of the image in question.
“We pride ourselves in America for being a melting pot, but sometimes that melting pot can get turned up pretty hot,” said John Baick, History professor of Western New England University.
The debate over a mural at the Dr. Seuss Museum has transformed into a debate over race.
It all started after three authors boycotted an event due to this mural of a Chinese caricature that they believe is racially insensitive.
The museum plans on changing the mural, despite pleas from the mayor of Springfield, local residents, and entrepreneurs, who all believe the mural is exactly where it belongs.
The Dr. Seuss Museum here in Springfield has gotten a lot of backlash ever since they said the mural would be changed. Some people say it’s the right thing to do, but others disagree.
“I’m not saying it should be removed, but I’m also saying an image like this, and an artist like this needs to be understood in his times,” Professor Baick told 22News.
Professor Baick told 22News, the book where the mural came from was published in the 1930s, a time when Asian Americans were oppressed.
“At the time the picture was drawn, Chinese-Americans weren’t eligible for citizenship,” said Baick. “The Chinese were the only immigrant American group in U.S. history to be excluded. So when that picture was drawn, it was drawn of a rather painful past, and one that’s still living with us now.”
Baick said the answer isn’t to erase history but to use images like this as a teachable moment, to remind Americans of where we are, and where we’ve been.