Society

School's 'Duck Dynasty' Themed T-Shirts Spark Controversy

| by Jared Keever
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A Texas mother says she won’t be sending her two children to their elementary school’s field day wearing the shirts provided by the school, because the shirts reportedly portray a controversial figure from the popular “Duck Dynasty” television series. 

Sue Crabtree, a mother of five living in Killeen, was upset when her first and third grade children brought home the shirts, meant to be worn at Fowler Elementary’s upcoming field day, KXXV News reports. 

She said the shirts feature a member of the Robertson family, the Louisiana family at the center of the reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

“I think folks should know by now …” Crabtree said in an interview with KXXV. “At least one member of the group ‘Duck Dynasty’ has openly made racist comments, made LGBT comments that are very negative and I don't feel this is a good representation of our community.”

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Though she never mentions him directly, she is likely referring to Phil Robertson who, according to The Huffington Post, came under fire in 2013 for comments made during a GQ interview in which he claimed blacks didn’t suffer in Louisiana prior to the civil rights era. 

According to that same article, Robertson was also suspended from the show by the A&E network after he called homosexuality a sin and suggested it could lead to bestiality. 

Crabtree said her husband called the school and a woman confirmed the drawing on the shirt was inspired by the popular television show.

What further confounded Crabtree was that the man on the shirt is wearing a Dr. Seuss-style hat, which also sends the wrong message, she said.

Dr. Seuss, Crabtree pointed out in her interview, had also once been a racist, but became much more progressive later in his life.

“[He] wrote so many anti-racist stories and articles and yet they put a Dr. Seuss hat on top of what is a racist to me,” Crabtree said of the shirts.

The racist work — mostly old advertising and political cartoons — of Dr. Seuss, the cartoonist born as Theodor Seuss Geisel, is well-documented. Business Insider ran a story about the ads and cartoons in 2012. Many of them depict non-whites in an unfavorable light. According to the article, “black people are presented as savages, living in the tropics, dressed in grass skirts,” and “Arabs are portrayed as camel-riding nomads or sultans.” Political cartoons from World War II depict Japanese as “buck-toothed and squint-eyed.”

Crabtree said she moved her family to Killeen, from an area affected by racism, because the community was more diverse.

She told KXXV she was going to use Dr. Seuss’ apparent change of heart as an example and send her kids to school with a different shirt for field day. 

The shirt will feature the Dr. Seuss character, The Lorax. 

“On the shirt it will say ‘unless,’ because the story says unless you care a whole awful lot, nothing will get better,” Crabtree said.

The Killeen Independent School District did not respond to a request for comment about the shirts, according to KXXV. 

Sources: KXXV News, The Huffington Post, Business Insider 

Photo Credit: KXXV News