A children’s book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington has been pulled from publication by Scholastic after the sane, non-racist public rightfully complained about their depiction of George Washington’s slave chef, Hercules, and his daughter, Delia, as happy.
At first, Scholastic defended the book and its author, Ramin Ganeshram, who they claim handled the sensitive topic with the “utmost care.”
They even let the writer speak for herself:
“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.”
But, the public didn’t buy this statement; if anything it got Scholastic into even more hot water. On MLK Day, ironically, the company released this statement:
“Scholastic is announcing today that we are stopping the distribution of the book entitled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and will accept all returns.”
“While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.”
“We do not believe this title meets the standards of appropriate presentation of information to younger children, despite the positive intentions and beliefs of the author, editor, and illustrator.”
This is what should have been told to the author when they pitched this travesty of a book in the first place. Shame on Scholastic for depicting, even for a second, slavery as anything other than the horrific atrocity that it was.
Featured image via Amazon.com