A spinoff book from the much loved Captain Underpants series has been pulled from shelves after claims of “passive racism”.
The graphic novel, ‘The Adventures of Ook and Gluk’ by Dav Pilkey, was originally published in 2010 and features a martial-arts instructor, Master Wong, who teaches the two main characters, Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu.
The decision comes in the wake of the rise of violence against Asian-Americans since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement released on his YouTube channel, Pilkey said he wrote the book to “showcase diversity, equality and non-violent conflict resolution,” using “principles found in Chinese philosophy,” but was made aware that it “also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery.”
He went on to say he “wanted to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this,” and that “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. I apologize, and I pledge to do better,” he added.
The publisher, Scholastic, has removed the book from its website, stopped processing orders and has sought a return of all inventory.
The author said he plans to donate “all advance and all royalties” from the book’s sales to non-profits dedicated to stopping violence against the Asian community and promoting diversity such as We Need Diverse Books and TheaterWorks USA.
Similarly, an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, titled “Kwarantined Crab” will not be broadcast on Nickelodeon, due to a virus-centred storyline.
In the episode, a health inspector visits the Krusty Krab restaurant and informs Spongebob and friends of an outbreak of “clam flu”.
This forces the characters to quarantine in the establishment leading to anxiety and panic.
Nickelodeon’s executive vice president of communications David Bittler told NBC News the episode will not air “due to sensitivities surrounding the global, real world pandemic.”
Image credit: Pilkey.com