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Publisher Pulls Book by Beloved Children's Author Over 'Passive Racism' Claims

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A graphic novel for children from the wildly popular “Captain Underpants” series is being pulled from library and bookstore shelves after its publisher said it “perpetuates passive racism.”

The book under scrutiny is 2010’s “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” by Dav Pilkey.

It 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.

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Pilkey has apologized, saying the book “contains harmful racial stereotypes” and is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”

Scholastic said it had removed the book from its websites, stopped processing orders for it and sought a return of all inventory.

“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,” the publisher said in a statement.

According to The New York Times, the move came after a Korean-American father started a petition on Change.org demanding an apology from Pilkey and Scholastic after he borrowed “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” from a library.

Do you agree with the decision to pull the book?

“I realized the book relied upon multiple instances of racist imagery and stereotypical tropes,” Billy Kim wrote in a message accompanying the petition.

Among these, he said, were “a ‘Kung Fu master’ wearing what’s purported to be a traditional-style Tang coat, dashes for eyes for the Asian characters, stereotypical Chinese proverbs, and a storyline that has the Kung Fu master rescued by the non-Asian protagonists using their Kung Fu skills (despite the fact that they were taught said skills from the supposed master).”

After Scholastic announced it was pulling the book, Kim wrote that “this is not enough.”

“The damage has been done,” he said. “Every child who has read this book has been conditioned to accept this racist imagery as ‘okay’ or even funny. It is this type of passive racism that has contributed to the continued hate and prejudice experienced by Asian Americans on a daily basis.”

Pilkey said in a YouTube statement 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.

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“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. “I apologize, and I pledge to do better.”



Earlier this month, the estate of Dr. Seuss said six of his books would no longer be published because they contained depictions of groups that were “hurtful and wrong,” including Asian-Americans.

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