Fascinating. I found these images in a New York Times article via Racialicious. The story's main focus was library censorship based on patron complaints. Especially difficult is the idea of pulling out books for racist content. Most literature was written in the context of a racist society. Most literature can be critiqued and criticized for racist and sexist content. But are children's books different? Children are impressionable and might not understand that children's books from 50 or 100 years ago were written in a certain context that should be kept in mind when read. Maybe they just shouldn't be read by children? This is similar to my previous post on Babar the Elephant.
I found these accompanying illustrations the most interesting aspect of the article. Tintin au Congo has already been banished to the backrooms of New York libraries, available only upon request. But, curiously, the author Hergé Moulinsart had already tried to mitigate the offensive elements of his book back in the 1940's:
Artwork: Hergé Moulinsart
But Moulinsart didn't do enough, did he? In the classroon scene, he gives one more boy a shirt in the color version, but still there are two students in class without shirts on. Why not give all the students shirts? And still, Tintin's dog scowls at the students, complaining about their chatting. In children's stories, what dog sympathizes with the adult over the children?
The colonialist's dog.
How do we deal with colonialism in children's literature? Through these stories Africa filled the imaginations of many people. But the authors and the first readers of these stories were living in a context of colonialism that our children should no longer be living in. These books are interesting for understanding colonial attitudes about Africa, but not for teaching children about an Africa that actually exists.