The Scholastic Book Fair at your local elementary school is about to get a mini facelift. According to The Guardian, the publishing company announced last week that it would no longer be distributing a book from the children’s series Captain Underpants—which, if it’s not clear from the title, is about a superhero who wears nothing but white undies and a cape and gets into all kinds of shenanigans. The book in question, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, was published in 2010 and follows two time-traveling cavemen who go into the future and meet “Master Wong,” an Asian martial arts teacher who teaches them the values of knowing how to fight, I guess. I couldn’t tell you, as I only read classic Dr. Seuss.
Prior to Scholastic and the author agreeing to pull the book and apologizing for its depiction of Asian people, there was a petition circulating online “demanding an apology from Scholastic, citing stereotypes and Pilkey’s depiction of Wong in his illustrations.” With as few as 289 supporters, the petition was an all-out success. Captain Underpants’s author, Dav Pilkey, issued an apology for his illustrations on YouTube, a turn from the usual Notes app apology. Pilkey wrote in his apology that “it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery.”
In some of the illustrations which are shown on the petition, Master Wong’s eyes are two lines on his face, while two other non-Asian characters have fully drawn eyeballs. The petition also points out that Wong is “wearing what’s purported to be a traditional-style Tang coat” while also speaking in “stereotypical Chinese proverbs.” Pilkey’s response to this was surprisingly level-headed. “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 wrote before apologizing for the second time in his letter.
In a note published on their website, Scholastic acknowledged that the book “perpetuates passive racism” and apologized once again for running Pilkey’s book. So, who wants to be the first person to tell Tucker Carlson about this so we can all enjoy him having an absolute meltdown over a book he’s never heard of on live television??