Scholastic pulls Captain Underpants book over 'passive racism' toward Asian people
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk author Dav Pilkey apologized to his readers.
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, a book from the wildly popular Captain Underpants kids graphic novel series, is the latest title pulled from shelves due to racist depictions.
In an announcement on Monday, publisher Scholastic, "with the full support" of author Dav Pilkey, noted in their decision to stop sales that the book "perpetuates passive racism."
"We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake," a statement reads. "Scholastic has removed the book from our websites, stopped fulfillment of any orders (domestically or abroad), contacted our retail partners to explain why this book is no longer available, 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."
Published in 2010, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk follow two cavemen, who are pulled through a time portal in 500,001 B.C. and dropped into the year 2222. There they learn kung fu from martial arts instructor Master Wong so they can travel back in time with their new skills to save their hometown.
Pilkey, whose titles still dominate the New York Times' graphic books and manga bestsellers list, issued an apology for the book's depictions of "harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery."
"I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this," he said. "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 is harmful to everyone," he added. "I apologize, and I pledge to do better."
Scholastic's decision to pull the title comes as entertainment industries, including Hollywood, are reckoning with how Asian people have been portrayed in the past. The focus comes as violence toward the communities have escalated in the United States.
In March, Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the decision that six books from Dr. Seuss would be discontinued for their racist and insensitive illustrations.