Diversity in Dr. Seuss? Look no further, says Tami, than The Sneetches. Well YES! Let’s look at those sneetches! This story is frighteningly good. And its great teaching is both problematic and provocative: that an oppressed race cannot make a breakthrough without racial assimilation.
Remember? The star-belly sneetches won’t let the plain-belly sneetches play their games or come to their weenie roasts. They are the cool ones; they have all the fun; they are the boss race. And do the plain-belly sneetches throw their own weenie roasts? Do they play their own games? No. They can’t. They’re a depressed class. They’re the have-nots. Poverty and disenfranchisement have wormed their way into the plain-belly soul. All they can do is stand around on the margins of society, watching the star-bellies have fun.
Then Sylvester McMonkey McBean shows up and puts all the plain-bellies through the machine that gives them belly-stars. The star-bellies are upset because all of a sudden they can’t tell who is who. McBean offers to take off their stars, and they accept. So now the racial markings are exactly reversed. But what happens? The old privileged class is still privileged, duh! “To be wearing a star was now frightfully bad.” Even with stars, the mark of the overlords, the old underclass remains incapable of roasting weenies. All they want to do now is get rid of their stars.
There is only one solution: in and out of the machines everyone goes, all day “on those wild screaming beaches” – Seuss’s best line ever — until McBean has all their money, at which point some of have stars and some don’t but no one can tell who used to have what. Is interbreeding the only solution for racial oppression? Seuss thinks so.