Captain Underpants has bad friends?

Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey has apologised for “harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery” in one of his graphic novels for children, which has been withdrawn by his publisher amid a surge in anti-Asian violence in the US.

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, first published in 2010, follows two cavemen who travel to the year 2222 and meet Master Wong, a martial arts instructor. Last week, publisher Scholastic announced that it would stop distributing the book and remove all mention of it from its website, saying it had “the full support” of Pilkey.

“Together, we recognise that this book perpetuates passive racism,” Scholastic said. “We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake.”

In a letter shared on his YouTube channel, Pilkey said he had “intended to showcase diversity, equality and nonviolent conflict resolution” in the graphic novel. “But this week it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery,” he wrote. “I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly apologise for this. It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends, and family, and to all Asian people.”

“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 apologise, and I pledge to do better.”

The announcement was made soon after Billy Kim, a Korean-American father of two started a Change.org petition demanding an apology from Scholastic, citing stereotypes and Pilkey’s depiction of Wong in his illustrations.

After the announcement, Kim wrote that he had spoken to a senior executive at Scholastic, then Pilkey, who apologised to him and his seven-year-old son.

While he was glad the book was withdrawn, Kim wrote, “the damage has been done”.

Read the rest at: theguardian.com


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