A racist Dr Seuss cartoon, depicting the selling of black slaves, has tanked at a recent auction following controversy around the selling of the image.
The picture, part of a series of satirical cartoons created by the once beloved children’s writer, was being sold at an auction in California. In the end, no one bought the offensive picture, however as a result, the previously revered children’s author and illustrator’s reputation has been tainted.
The image was originally published in 1929 by satirical magazine Judge, and was being auctioned for $20,000 at the Nate D. Sanders Fine Arts and Memorabilia. It consists of a four panel drawing called “cross section of the world’s most prosperous department store. The final and largest of the panels contains the image which shows a stereotypical drawing of a group of dark skinned and big lipped black men as a white man shopper surveys them. Above it an poster advertising “a n***** for your woodpile, hangs, suggesting that the men are for sale. The phrase “a n***** for your woodpile” is defined by the Webster dictionary as a “dated now offensive: something (as a concealed motive or obscure factor) contrary to appearances in a situation.”
Dr Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, is fondly known for his books popular children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Prior to his career as a children’s author however, he drew other racist cartoons during the early days of his career. During World War II, he drew anti-Japanese cartoons, which depicted Japanese-Americans as disloyal and suspicious. In his later years, Seuss expressed remorse of his ignorant drawings and biographers of the artist’s life have suggested that his views changed as he grew older, and some have said that Seuss can be forgiven for his racist past, because he later drew anti-racist cartoons.