Charles Blow, a left-wing columnist for the New York Times, has suggested canceling the popular Looney Tunes cartoon characters Speedy Gonzales and Pepé Le Pew — the former because it is “racist,” the latter for contributing to “rape culture.”
Blow made the suggestions in a column applauding the removal of several Dr. Seuss books from circulation for allegedly racist caricatures. In the column, titled, “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias,” Blow argued: “Racism must be exorcised from culture, including, or maybe especially, from children’s culture.”
As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone. The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs.
It wasn’t something that most if any would articulate in that way, let alone knowingly propagate. Rather, it was in the air, in the culture. We had been trained in it, bathed in it, acculturated to hate ourselves.
It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.
Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent.