|A Star-Bellied Sneetch assuming superiority over a|
courtesy of hilobrow.com
I read this book to my child right around the time the bomb dropped on a bigoted Paula Deen--and some of her supporters!--and right before the premiere of the documentary Dark Girls and the start of George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. This reading also took place weeks after people went H.A.M. over an adorable Cheerios ad. While it's been easy to wax hopeful after reflecting on the truths of this children's book, I'm conscious enough to know that the forces of prejudice are many and varied: long established institutionally in some cases and deep-rooted within families in other cases. (Btw, Crunk Feminist Crunkadelic makes similar big-picture connections in her post "Girl, Bye: Why This Moment is Bigger than Paula Deen." Do check it out.) Mini Mo's father and I are planning to teach her early and often that she is not better than anyone else, nor is anyone else better than she is. The teaching's got to count for something, methinks.
At 66 years old, Paula Deen is perhaps too old (and too deeply Southern?) to have had The Sneetches read to or discussed with her. Maybe those who have tormented dark girls all over the globe, even within their own families, didn't apply the book's themes to themselves. Whatever the case, it's no secret that, even when children go through stages of rebellion and alternate influences, the fundamental teachings they grow up with have lasting impacts--for better or worse. I guess that's what gives me a little hope. Yes, bigots continue to teach bigotry to their children, but people with good sense are teaching their children, too. People with good sense, TURN UP! And, consider reading The Sneetches to your children, nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, etc. The Reverend Dr. Seuss excellently highlights and preaches about the ridiculousness of prejudice. In the end, after all the wasted money and confusion about who's better and who's lesser, "the Sneetches got really quite smart" when "they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches / And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches."
If you're unfamiliar with The Sneetches (celebrating its 50th anniversary), here's an awesome video version of it, submitted by YouTuber m7a7b725! Enjoy and share!