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Troy

Another Racist Book for Children Published #whatelseisnew

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9780545538237.jpg.439ce6f114ba1b7d9c6824“How could they smile? How could they be anything but unrelentingly miserable... How could they be proud to bake a cake for George Washington?

“The answers to those questions are complex because human nature is complex. Bizarrely and yes, disturbingly, there were some enslaved people who had a better quality of life than others and ‘close’ relationships with those who enslaved them. But they were smart enough to use those ‘advantages’ to improve their lives.” --Ganeshram, the author

From the book's description on Scholastic's (the publisher of this fiction from an alternative universe) Website:

Everyone is buzzing about the president's birthday! Especially George Washington's servants, who scurry around the kitchen preparing to make this the best celebration ever. Oh, how George Washington loves his cake! And, oh, how he depends on Hercules, his head chef, to make it for him. Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking the president's cake. But this year there is one problem — they are out of sugar. This story, told in the voice of Delia, Hercules's young daughter, is based on real events, and underscores the loving exchange between a very determined father and his eager daughter, who are faced with an unspoken, bittersweet reality. No matter how delicious the president's cake turns out to be, Delia and Papa will not taste the sweetness of freedom. New York Times food writer Ramin Ganeshram and acclaimed illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton serve up a slice of history in a picture book narrative that will surely satisfy.

Heavens to Betsy! as I've lamented many times before this is what happens when you don't control your narrative.  Sure they are scurrying about 'cause ole George would skin his niggers if they did not obey.  

I chose the word "skin" because it is that language George Washington herself used when talking about his enslaved people. Here is a quotes:

“Charlotte I Guess will be reported Sick this week I Gave her a Whiping on Saturday & I find She dont intend to work in order I suppose to be even with Me When I was Culling out the River hogs she sent by Muddy hole David requesting I would Give her a Spear rib as She Long’d for it this I knew to be false and thought it to be a piece of impudence in her which She has a Great Share of I did not send it but on Saturday I sent one to each of the Women at the Qu[arte]r of Course She had one with the rest but She I fancy watch’d me home & as soon as I got in the house brings the Spear rib & thro’s down at the Door (affronted I suppose at my not sending it on Thursday) told me indeed She wanted none of my Meat & was in Short very impudent I took a hickory Switch which I rode with & Gave her a very Good Whiping She certainly could come for nothing else, On Monday Morning Mrs Ehlers informed me She had sent her work but Charlotte had sent it back I went to the Qur & Gave a little more but I believe She has not done any thing yet under a pretence of her finger receiving a blow & was Swelld She threatens me very much with informing Lady Washington when She comes home & says She has not been whipd for 14 Years past, but I fully expect I shall have to Give her some More of it before She will behave herself for I am determined to lower her Spirit or Skin her Back.” —Washington’s farm manager Anthony Whitting

In response George Washington wrote,  

“Your treatment of Charlotte was very proper—and if she, or any other—of the Servants will not do their duty by fair means—or are impertinent, correction (as the only alternative) must be administered.”

Scholastic is "pulling" the book according to a Guardian article.  It however is still on shelves and available for purchase from all the major on-line retailers.  It is currently a #1 Bestseller on Amazon.  

If anyones need a children's book written about them, it is the defiant Charlotte who gave Washington's overseer so much grief.  Would we publish it?  Would we buy it.

Happy MLK Day

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They used the word scurry!!!!!! Rats freaking scurry man! Ahhhhhh Troy! Our lack of empowerment and controlling our narrative is indeed a frustrating and dangerous thing.

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Check this shit out!

"This month, Scholastic Press is proud to publish a picture book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. With the recent controversy surrounding the publication of A Fine Dessert, a picture book by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, including this thought-provoking essay from Kirkus comparing these two books in particular, I felt it important to share my view that while there are similarities between A Birthday Cake for George Washington and A Fine Dessert (both books celebrate the making of a dessert with a parent and child), the two books are vastly different.

The topic of slavery is one that must be handled with the utmost care, especially in the form of visual depictions, historical references, dialogue, and characterizations in books for young readers. In A Birthday Cake for George Washington the lives of enslaved people ― and the complex inequities of their bondage ― play a key role in the narrative. Through carefully curated research, A Birthday Cake for George Washington presents an important slice of American history. It is based on the true story of Hercules, the president’s cook. Hercules was one of over 300 African Americans enslaved by George and Martha Washington. Even though he was a slave, everyone knew and admired Hercules ― especially the president!" (more: http://oomscholasticblog.com/post/proud-slice-history?linkId=20148698
--Andrea Davis Pinkney, VP and executive editor, Scholastic Trade Publishing

Andrea, is an award winning children's book author and is proud of this book!?  You don't have to be white to be culturally insensitive or behave in a racist fashion against Black people.

I now notice that there was some angry reaction on social media.

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When you are published by the companies, you have to give blurbs. This takes us right back to controlling our story. What can you say? I just spend my time trying to build my business and sharing what I can that is of importance. I've given way too much of my life away to keep fighting the same issues over and over. I'm only doing what I can control.

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fine-dessert.thumb.png.338dde885a9e205a6

“A bit more that two hundred years ago, outside a city called Charleston South Carolina, a girl and her mother picked blackberries from the plantation garden.”

How lovely...

The book, A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, by Emily Jenkins is another example of a book where the horrors of slavery are completely ignored.  Another children reading this might think being enslaved forever was an idyllic existence.

I know it is bad as far is it goes for Black children's books, but because I primarily focus on book written by Black people I largely missed the titles that white folks write for themselves.  Reading this stuff is it any wonder why white folks say that we are better off having been enslaved rather that remaining in Africa.

It is 1816 or 2016?

 

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Ok there has been some movement of the Birthday Cake for George Washington.  The publisher updated the book cover to more accurately reflect sentiments of his slaves.

56a036bb9961e_correctedimage.thumb.jpg.b

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It has duality. Remember the secret society of presidents and rich guys from Harvard ( I think...) is Skull and Bones. It is funny though.

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