Was the Cat in the Hat Black? by Philip Nel

9780190635077

by Philip Nel

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

I would give this book 5 stars but he was seriously preaching to the choir and in a much wordier way than necessary. It took me a long time to read this book, partly because I’m not used to such academic writing anymore. (Also, non-fiction just takes me a long time.) I did learn a few things about racism in children’s books, such as that the Cat in the Hat was based on a lot of racist, minstrel stereotypes, which modern readers wouldn’t necessarily know anymore. The other points he made include: Publishing is too white and the people making decisions on what should be published are too quick to tell POCs their story isn’t relatable before checking their privilege; there is some significant editing-out of people of color in books like William Joyce’s Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; whitewashing covers is also a terrible thing that not only tries to trick white readers but, even worse, doesn’t get books with main characters of color into the hands of readers of color; and finally, that people of color are excluded from certain genres such as fantasy. There was also a good list of ways to be not just a good ally, but a good accomplice. Overall, a solid, important read, though I suspect that many of the readers will again be the choir he’s already preaching to.

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