Education

Henrico School Board Chair apologizes for sharing ‘offensive’ Dr. Seuss post

Hours after sharing an offensive post on her personal Facebook page Friday night, a Henrico School Board member deleted it and posted an apology.

Three Chopt District representative Micky Ogburn shared the post (which lamented a recent decision by the estate of Dr. Seuss to cease publication of six of his books that it deemed partially racist) and wrote above it “I love this and Dr Seuss books.”

The original post shared by Ogburn (but written by someone else) included a large picture of the Grinch, a Dr. Seuss character, with his middle finger extended and a long poem (written to mimic the author’s style) that criticized the idea that any Seuss books were racist and concluded with the lines:

“When it made Hollywood millions
60 books to his name, For 84 years
& just now have sent whiners, crying in tears
With NO life to enjoy
They must find someone to blame
Someone to hate,
Someone to shame
Your goal is to hate
I do NOT condone,
go to hell Snowflakes
Leave Dr. Seuss alone.”

After screenshots of Ogburn’s post began circulating on social media and several people commented on it directly, expressing their displeasure, Ogburn deleted it. She later posted an apology in which she disavowed the post’s message and said she hadn’t seen all of the original post before sharing it.

Three Chopt School Board member Micky Ogburn

“No matter your age, you can learn from a mistake and own up to it no matter how unintentional or inadvertent that mistake might be,” she wrote. “To anyone who was offended by the post I shared earlier, I sincerely apologize. I didn’t see the whole post or attached picture before sharing. Lesson learned to read it all and think about things through the eyes of others before posting. As soon as I saw the whole post and it was immediately deleted.”

Ogburn has represented the Three Chopt District on the board since 2014, when she won a special election to serve the final year of a four-year term originally held by Diana Winston (who had resigned in August 2013 as officials were investigating a possible conflict of interest in her service and her husband’s business relationship with the school system). Ogburn then won re-election in 2015 and 2019.

In an interview late Monday with the Citizen, Ogburn said she was “absolutely embarrassed and mortified” about reposting the poem and image.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the books and characters of the author, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, announced on his birthday (March 2) that it had made the decision last year to cease publication of six of his lesser-known titles: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the organization said in a statement. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.

The organization reached the conclusion following a review by a panel of people, including educators, it said.

Several people were quick to comment on Ogburn’s original post, noting that it was offensive – particularly to the many Asians and other minorities in her district. In separate Facebook groups, a handful of Henrico Schools’ stakeholders indicated that they had or were planning to write letters or emails to the school board indicating their displeasure with Ogburn’s post.

Henrico Schools administrators who contacted the Citizen indicated that employees who had posted or reposted the same thing that Ogburn did would, in the words of one, be “severely reprimanded” for doing so.

The school system’s student code of conduct indicates that “students will adhere to rules regarding cyber bullying, harassment, hate speech, and other forms of verbal assault” and that they “must understand that content published online is public, visible, and representative of the author.” – Henrico Citizen

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