The headline speaks for itself:
In an incredibly freakish coincidence the children’s book writer Bill Martin, Jr, shares the same name as another person, and this person wrote a book called Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation, and, well:
In their haste to sort out the state’s social studies curriculum standards, the [Texas] State Board of Education recently tossed children’s author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”
It’s obvious that Martin is hiding some subversive tendencies. (Red bird, red bird!) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is, at heart, a meditation on the power relations immanent in the authorial “Gaze.” As one animal controls the gaze, he controls the narrative and constructs and defines identity for the “Gazed-At.” The story proceeds in a stunning chain in which each animal gets to be both the “Gazer” and the “Gazed-At,” a dialectic dance that seems to subvert the dominant narrative but really reifies it. It seems at first that Martin intends to expose the inevitability of participation in this eternal narrative, since the Gaze-discourse leads eventually to The Teacher. But Martin doesn’t stop here–at the end the children topple the teacher/power structure/hegemon, and, instead of being products of the narrative, are shown to actually produce it themselves.
Brown Bear was obviously written to incite revolution, and I’m surprised it took anyone so long to realize it. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, will there be enough room, indeed.
I’m glad Texas is looking out for threats to capitalism, though this totally destroys my plan to write Llama Llama Bourgeois Mama.