Amnon Free Press
Children’s book publisher Scholastic has pulled “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk,” a spinoff of the popular “Captain Underpants” series, following a re-evaluation that found the book “contains harmful racial stereotypes.
The author, Dav Pilkey, also offered an effusive apology on YouTube and pledged to send profits from sales of the graphic novel to an organization working to end racially motivated violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
Fox News reports that the graphic novel “follows a pair of friends who travel from 500,001 B.C. to 2222, where they meet a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu and they learn principles found in Chinese philosophy,” a character that Scholastic now says is “harmful to Asians” because it embodies “passive racism” and embraces a “harmful racial stereotype” that Pilkey now says is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”
Scholastic did not define “passive racism,” but Diversity Inc., a news organization that provides training on diversity, inclusion, and Critical Race Theory indicates that “passive racism” refers to unintentionally harmful material that an organization or individual allows to exist, knowing the harm it poses to people of color.
Because of “Ook and Gluk’s” “passive racism,” Scholastic is going one step further than Dr. Seuss Enterprises did last month when it announced that it was ending the publication of six of the famous children’s author’s titles. Fox News reports that the publishing company has “decided to remove the book from its websites” but will also “stop processing orders for it and is seeking a return on all inventory.”
They are also asking school libraries to pull copies of the book from circulation. Dr. Seuss Enterprises left that decision up to individual libraries, many of whom said they would not pull the books, but simply wait until current copies “age out” of use.
“Scholastic has removed the book from our websites, stopped fulfillment of any orders (domestically or abroad), contacted our retail partners to explain why this book is no longer available, and sought a return of all inventory,” the company said in a statement on its website. “We will take steps to inform schools and libraries who may still have this title in circulation of our decision to withdraw it from publication. ”
Pilkey apologized profusely for the book’s “passive racism” in a statement on his YouTube channel.
“I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism are harmful to everyone,” he said. “I apologize, and I pledge to do better.”
Pilkey then said he “planned to donate his advance and all royalties from the book’s sales to groups dedicated to stopping violence against Asians and to promoting diversity in children’s books and publishing,” according to Fox News.
Pilkey’s graphic novel is just the latest title to be pulled from shelves over concerns about racism and sexism, but it is notable that Pikley’s book debuted in 2010 and not in the immediate post-World War II era, when Dr. Seuss’s books were published.
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