People had lots of thoughts and concerns about the Dr. Seuss story. Let's discuss the best ones.
Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?


A racist image in a children's book is a historical artifact, but it isn't "history." History is the recording of and study of events in the past. Things themselves aren't history. (If physically holding onto things were necessary to remember history, we'd still have segregated water fountains to remind us that they existed.)

What's happening with these books right now, though, is history. A famous author's estate choosing to stop publishing a handful of his books because they contain racist imagery is literally history in the making. It's not like the images have just disappeared altogether. Students can learn about this history with images in digital archives and museums where they can be learned from at an appropriate age with appropriate context.

Why don't they keep the books in print and use them as an educational tool?

There are at least two reasons for that, as far as I can see:

1) As Dr. Seuss Enterprises said, these depictions are hurtful. It really doesn't make sense to keep producing hurtful content in order to educate people who are not hurt by it. You don't keep punching someone in order to teach observers who aren't being punched that punching hurts. That's cruel.

2) These books are made for small children. Kids who are 4 or 5 or 6-years-old don't have enough background knowledge about the history of racism and racial stereotypes to make these books a useful tool for teaching them about racism. (That doesn't mean they don't have an impact on them—more on that in a sec.) While parents should be talking to their kids about race starting young, the imagery here is a more complex element of the topic that doesn't fit the developmental stage of the kids the books are targeting.

Imagine what that lesson would look like in a class of kindergarteners. "See this picture, kids? That's an exaggeration of racial features and cultural stereotypes that are hurtful to people of African/Asian descent. It's just one example of how racism was long accepted in America because they believed people who looked different or came from different places were inferior." That's already too much for a kindergartener to process, and that's just the basic overview. Developmentally, cognitively, educationally, they're just not there yet.

At that age, kids are just subconsciously absorbing these stereotypes. And what's worse is that they're enjoying absorbing them because Dr. Seuss's whimsical rhymes are fun and reading time is fun.

Seems wiser to just stop publishing them and use what we already have published to teach older kids, teens, and adults about the history of racism in literature.

So "WAP" song being Song of the Year is appropriate but Dr. Seuss isn't?

I'm personally not a fan of sexually explicit lyrics, but this is an apples and oranges comparison. A highly sexualized song that isn't made for kids is not comparable to problematic racial imagery in a book that is made explicitly for kids. I'm assuming (and hoping) parents aren't singing WAP when they tuck their kids into bed at night. Dr. Seuss is deemed innocent and his books are beloved. Warm and cozy childhood memories are made with books. Having warm childhood memories intertwined with racist imagery is a problem.

Dr. Seuss?!? Is there anyone cancel culture won't come for?

The term "cancel culture" is getting a bit overused, in my opinion. Criticism isn't canceling. A company receiving critical feedback and making a decision based on that feedback isn't canceling (unless you count self-canceling as canceling). I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books and read them to my kids when they were little, but I think the company made the right move.

Racism can't be perpetuated just because we like someone. If we think of this as an attack on racism rather than an attack on a person, it might be easier for Seuss lovers to digest. Ted Geisel was a whole, imperfect human being who evolved over time and left a complicated legacy. His early racism should absolutely be discussed as part of that legacy. His racist works should absolutely be "canceled" by ceasing to be published. People can debate whether or not to read his other books, but the idea that his racially insensitive stuff should continue to be published for children is a pretty gross take.

Get over it. It's a children's book.

The same could be said to people throwing a fit about these books no longer being published. The difference is that the people who are hurt by the imagery have an entire history of racial oppression—and likely a good amount of personal racial discrimination—behind their feelings about the images. The people who are offended that a company isn't making the books anymore have no actual harm to get over. Seems like the lesser offense, objectively and by far, is to stop publishing them.

Why do people even care about color of the characters? Why can't you just enjoy the stories?

Adults think kids are colorblind. They're not. Research shows that very young children—even infants and toddlers—notice racial differences. That doesn't mean that they discriminate, but they do notice race. So presenting racial differences in the form of stereotypical caricatures is a problem. It may not matter to you if you don't identify with the race being depicted, but it matters to many.

Who gets to decide what's offensive and what's not?

The people on the receiving end of racism get to decide what's racist or not. That doesn't mean there's always a unanimous consensus, but it's pretty clear when a large number of people point out that something is racially offensive. There's also research behind this decision. A 2019 study of 50 Dr. Seuss books found that only 2% of his human characters were not white, and nearly all of them were depicted in problematic ways. Whether the imagery is truly racially insensitive isn't really the question. The question is whether or not that imagery should continue to be published anew forever and ever.

Why is this just a problem now when these books have been around for decades?

It's not just a problem now. This isn't a new issue or a new complaint—the people who have been portrayed problematically just haven't been listened to in a real enough way for changes to be made until now. This is what learning and progress and growth as a society looks like. When we know better, we do better.

Yes! What took so long?

Despite the uproar, many people praised the decision, citing years of complaints about the racial stereotypes and caricatures in those books. People also pointed to the blatantly racist political cartoons Geisel (Dr. Seuss's real last name) drew early in his career as evidence that, yes, the imagery really was rooted in racism.

There's no question that some of Geisel's early work was racist. Some argue that he was a product of his time, but that doesn't make the works any less problematic. His views did evolve over the course of his life, and he tried to make indirect amends with his later books that had anti-prejudice themes, but never formally apologized for his early work. (As writer Danielle Slaughter points out, the kinds of apology statements that are standard now weren't expected in the time in which he lived, so a public apology would have been nice, but unusual.)

Some people have suggested that Geisel himself may have actually supported the Dr. Seuss Enterprises decision if he were alive today. If he was truly open to learning and broadening his understanding of race, the 30 years between his death and now may have prompted him to make that decision himself. Who knows. But undoubtedly Dr. Seuss Enterprises knows better than the average American what the author would have wanted, and they have the authority to make choices in his name.

So if people are still angry that Dr. Seuss canceled some Dr. Seuss books, they'll have to take it up with Dr. Seuss.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Police arrest man suspected of scamming an elderly woman.

There has been a rise in scams against the elderly during the pandemic. According to the FBI, American seniors were scammed for $1 billion dollars in 2020, up $300 million from the previous year.

To stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic, more seniors joined social media, opening them up to new avenues for fraud.

“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” the FBI report said. “Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”

But when scammers came after 73-year-old Jean Ebbert in Long Island, New York, they had no idea they were dealing with a law enforcement veteran. Ebbert is a former 911 dispatcher, so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A group of around 20 moms gathered at a Boston area high school to vent their frustrations loudly.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but there are certain groups of people who have faced particularly intense challenges these past two years. Healthcare workers? For sure. Teachers? Definitely. Parents? Um, yes.

Moms specifically? Yesssss.

It's hard to describe how hard navigating the pandemic with kids has been. Figuring out childcare when schools and daycare centers shut down, managing kids' remote or hybrid schooling, constantly making decisions about what's safe and what's not, dealing with the inconsistency and chaos of it all, weighing risks with who is vaccinated and who isn't—none of it has been easy. Many parents are also raising kids with mental, emotional, behavioral or physical challenges that have only been made harder by pandemic life.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

Keep Reading Show less