Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Prejudiced Yellow Bellied Sneetches

with 3 comments

For Halloween my friend dressed up as a Yellow Bellied Sneetch. For the ignorant, these are beings in a Dr. Seuss book of similar name. The Sneetch section of the wikipedia article on this book is pasted below:

Sneetches are a group of vaguely avian yellow creatures who live on a beach. Some Sneetches have a green star on their bellies, and in the beginning of the story the absence of a star is the basis for discrimination. Sneetches who have stars on their bellies are part of the “in crowd”, while Sneetches without stars are shunned and consequently mopey.

In the story, a “fix-it-up chappie” named Sylvester McMonkey McBean appears, driving a cart of strange machines. He offers the Sneetches without stars a chance to have them by going through his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The treatment is instantly popular, but this upsets the original star-bellied Sneetches, as they are in danger of losing their method for discriminating between Sneetches. Then McBean tells them about his Star-Off machine, costing ten dollars. The Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in order to remain special.

However, McBean does not share the prejudices of the Sneetches, and allows the recently starred Sneetches through this machine as well. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next,

“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
whether this one was that one or that one was this one
or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

This continues until the Sneetches are penniless and McBean departs a rich man, amused by their folly. Despite his assertion that “you can’t teach a Sneetch,” the Sneetches learn from this experience that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends.

I think that the book about the Sneetches tells a simple, but poignant story about racism. It is also good that there are books such as this that help to teach children about the ills of racism and  prejudice. Also, the book does a good job of illustrating the ridiculousness and absurdity of prejudice, making a mockery of its practice.


Written by victorianelson

November 15, 2009 at 3:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I love Dr. Suess! He always did have a way of making you see that we were all part of a larger whole. “Oh, all the places we will go,” once we are all able to take the lessons taught to children and implement them into our adult lives.


    November 16, 2009 at 4:22 am

  2. I liked this book growing up. Dr. Suess is a wordy genius. His literary illustrations can be carried on into the adult lives. And I do agree that this book pokes great fun at how ridiculous prejudice is.


    November 17, 2009 at 1:42 am

  3. I completely agree. Dr. Suess has a way of depicting a possibly very complex and difficult situation in a simple yet effective way. Although I’ve never read this book, I greatly admire its message of acceptance.


    November 22, 2009 at 8:32 pm

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