LeVar Burton says he supports the decision announced Tuesday by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop publishing six books — including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo — because of racist and insensitive imagery.
The TV and film star, also host of the beloved children’s program, Reading Rainbow, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper the moment is not about cancel culture but one of growth.
“In the general sense, once you know better, it is incumbent on you to do better. And I think that is exactly what Seuss Enterprises is doing here,” Burton said. “They are being a responsible steward of the brand.”
Burton noted that the six titles in question “really don’t fit with the values we’ve all come to know Dr. Seuss for.”
The company said of the decision, “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. 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.”
The other books affected are McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer.
Also having played an iconic sci-fi character on Star Trek, Burton made reference to late show creator Gene Roddenberry in his explanation.
“All of our heroes are human, they are all flawed,” Burton said. “It’s one of the things I learned from Gene Roddenberry, one of my storytelling mentors. Gene was a guy who had this great vision — but he also wanted all the women in short skirts.”
Burton continued, “America specifically, our xenophobia has crept into every aspect of our culture. And we have a tendency in this country to otherize everybody: Asians, Hispanics, Blacks. White normative culture has always been this way when it comes to the ‘other.’ We have tremendously racist underpinnings in this country. And the sooner we make peace with it, come to terms with the fact that this is part of the fabric of America, only then, only then are we prepared to do anything about it; make lasting systemic change.”
Burton continued his thoughts in several tweets, which can be found below.
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) March 3, 2021