Massachusetts librarian who compared Dr. Seuss books to ‘blackface minstrelsy’ once dressed as Cat in the Hat

The Massachusetts librarian who said she sees “racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes” in Dr. Seuss books looked pretty happy to be dressed as Cat in the Hat in 2015.

Twitter sleuths took little time finding Cambridge Public Schools Librarian Liz Phipps Soiero’s feed and digging into old posts after she raised eyebrows this week with her public rejection of an honorary gift from the White House of 10 embossed Dr. Seuss books.

Several of the pictures uncovered and reposted by users show Soiero at the school in question — Cambridgeport Elementary School in Cambridge — wearing the character’s signature red-and-white hat and matching stockings, cradling a Cat in the Hat doll.

By way of explanation, Soiero penned a widely panned open letter to First Lady Melania Trump, which she in part described Seuss’s most famed creation as having roots in the days of “blackface minstrelsy,” citing a few academic articles on the topic.

The letter was addressed to Trump because the First Lady had sent these book bundles to several dozen schools having “achieved high standards of excellence” to commemorate National Read a Book Day, Sept. 6.

“You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliche, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature,” Soiero wrote in her letter, which first expressed gratitude, then criticized the First Lady’s taste in children’s literature and said the district neither needed nor planned to keep the books.


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