Saturday, June 25th, 2016

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Enslaved Africans of George Washington Depicted as ‘Happy and Joyful’ in New Children’s Book

a birthday cake for george washington

A children’s book published by Scholastic depicting “happy and joyful” enslaved people has stirred outrage amongst both parents and educators.

A Birthday Cake for George Washington by Ramin Ganeshram and Vanessa Brantly-Newton is the story of Hercules, the President’s head chef, as he attempts to bake Washington a cake for his birthday celebration. The story, as told by Hercules’ daughter Delia, takes a turn for the worse as Hercules discovers there is no sugar in the cupboard.

An excerpt from the book reads:

Everyone’s 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’re out of sugar.

The book claims it is based on true events. The front flap of the book states:

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 don’t have the seethes of freedom.

Hercules was not in fact a “happy or joyful” enslaved person, he actually escaped to freedom on February 22, 1797 – Washington’s 65th birthday – which the president celebrated in Philadelphia. According to a diary entry of Louis-Philippe, the future king of the French:

The general’s cook ran away, being now in Philadelphia, and left a little daughter of six at Mount Vernon. Beaudoin ventured that the little girl must be deeply upset that she would never see her father again; she answered, “Oh! Sir, I am very glad, because he is free now.

The contents of the book became viral on Facebook as educators and parents criticized the revisionist history. Teaching for Change posted on their Facebook page:

Believe it or not, a new 2016 children’s book from Scholastic features a story about “happy slaves” who are pleased to cook a cake for President George Washington.

The children’s book currently has 45% 1 star on Amazon.com

george washington slave book

Comments

  1. "Only a fool would let his enemy teach his children." – Malcolm X

  2. Are you kidding me??? In 2015-16 Scholastic knows better!!

  3. "Empowering narrative," it says!

  4. And the illustrator drew the chef and his daughter with white facial structures but painted them black. Shame on you for not representing a real black person.

  5. something wrong with being a happy servant? wouldnt you like to enjoy your job? the only thing which would be wrong is if they truly werent happy so as not to give false information. but nothing wrong about being a happy worker.

  6. What kind of bullsh$t is this?? Servant? How about slave??? Good Lord. Help Us. SMH.

  7. Is Scholastic off its collective rocker?

  8. They need to stop with the whitewashing BS! Blacks as being "happy & joyful" during Slavery, REALLY you lying slimy slithering heathens, REALLY? Further proof that school textbooks along with many other published books are filled with whitewashed rhetoric. Nothing but lies, lies, lies from these clowns! How about they publish a book on how many slaves revolted against being kidnapped, raped, stalked and abused! Yeah describe how they revolted in self defense! How about details on how George Washington took teeth from his slaves to use as his own dentures. GTFOH with that white supremacy mentality BS!

  9. Mania of the Week Drapetomania: an intense desire to run away from home. The term dates back to a discreditied mental illness described by a 19th century physician named Samuel Cartwright, who sought to explain why slaves fled captivity.

  10. Connect this to the fact that someone from India is involved with this and generally speaking they have a hate for Africans and this for Blacks here. Gandhi's statues are being torn down in Africa as he was incredibly racist. This needs to be addressed at all those corner stores in your Black neighborhoods and also with the prejudice in our daily interactions with them in the e corporate, academic or even simply hailing a taxi with prejudiced drivers hailing from that region. Don't let the ones involved with the NACP mess with your heads about Bengali Harlem and so forth or the ones mixed in with us in the Caribbean and so forth. We have given too much power and its time to take control of our situation much like the Ethiopian warrior King for whom the famous river Ganges is named after. Yep.

  11. I still recall working at a financial firm which had a lot of etchings of George Washington. One of them was a portrait of the Washington family with their house slaves (that was the title). The eventually took it down after someone saw me "admiring" it.

  12. paul the apostle spoke of the sort of slave whcih love a master so much they decide not to leave. stop babbling because you didnt experience the struggle of the people of then yet you may have experienced a struggle of now. however even scripture says that a child doesn't inherit the sins of a parent so you should be a little more convincing in your case instead of being the antithesis of a peacemaker.

  13. when a person comments they should speak about the information rather than to go off topic, anything else is of their own heart and character. so any assumptions by you all only reveals your heart… do you not like peace?

  14. i love you all very much but assumption is poverty because lies didn't profit the neighbor and the butterfly affect is intense. I cannot bear a fool who would feed a starving dog rather than to prevent so much as the hunger of a fellow human. dollar for pillow and pillow for dollar, the world has materials. Yet people go to effortful attempts to assume and endanger and falsely accuse and hate and prevent what may heal due to their own opinions and futile traditions. A content servant isn't a bad servant but an unhappy servant should think twice about the master they serve and should either revise themselves or discontinue their service.

  15. How is this narrative "empowering," Scholastic? Whitewashed, revisionist history is harmful to children. As an American Indian, I'm all too familiar with how textbooks and all too many published books treat "minority" history. Oh sure, the slaves were happy and joyful. And my people were eager to give up our land and be rounded up like cattle to be marched west. WTF??

  16. Yeah Africans where just as happy as slaves as Europeans were when we Moors enslaved them…

  17. The kicker is the author is biracial and the illustrator appears to be African American. It sounds like neither did the research they needed to do.

  18. A black woman was apparently the illustrator.

  19. This is just an upgrade to the old black and white movies.

  20. Most people don't realize that George Washington was behind the Fugitive Slave Law (try not to laugh too much);

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqzUI1ihfpk

  21. What's next, Thomas Jefferson's Valentine?

  22. God, that would be awful. A story about how he loved his servant and despite her skin color they started a family. Yikes.

  23. Folks, this is Scholastic, name three Afrocentric books from this company!

  24. Delete this!!

  25. Let me guess, Arabs rewriting history too!

  26. This is the work of the John Birch Society! These are the same folks that tried to convince intermixed tribes that they owned slaves! They are the ones who "forgot" about the prisoner adoption practiced by African and Native American tribes! They have friends in the Arab and Nazi community! The cure is when Blacks write books disputing their works! Maybe if somebody wrote a book with the facts, Scholastic will stop!

  27. And just what type of facial features are you thinking about? Flat noses? Thick lips? Are you suggesting that black people be depicted in a stereotypical, insulting manner?

  28. What was Scholastic thinking? I'm deeply disappointed in this once exemplary publisher.

  29. Anthony Davis exactly lol

  30. We've got more work to do.

  31. to heck with sharing this post! why isn't there a protest or change.org link, or letter to scholastic demanding a change or cease publishing this drivel.

  32. Actually they have a few, which is meaningless right now.

  33. Well said

  34. I guess I know who is the source of this book, the people who hate black people the most from biblical times, and is making a consistent effort over the centuries to distort the history, they identify the paintings of themselve with this "WEST SIDE" hand sign they put on this black person.

    If you pay atention to paintings of "important" people in history they identify with this hand position called the M Runa or Horse.

    I belive the West Side hand sign for the Gangsta Rap wasn't a rappers invention but it came from them, working through Recold Labels.

  35. With all the singing and dancing these "servants" were probably doing "all day long", I am sure Disney have a new animated musical in the creative works already!

  36. This was never a happy time.The lies they tell

  37. Jerilyn Bridges Exactly, there are non

  38. Lets get facts straight. George washington was nice to his slaves and also Was against slavery. Since he lived in the south he had to keep them. And now people are trying to become Offended by this saying it promotes slavery? Read books before you throw stones.

  39. Amen!

  40. You can put anything past these people because theyare apable of anything.

  41. Washington didn't have to have slaves. He chose to buy into the system, which ultimately benefited him. If he didn't want to exploit slave labor, I doubt he could actually have been forced to do so. Finally, it is not offensive that they are promoting slavery; it is offensive that they are trying to create this happy, symbiotic image as if these men were considered old friends and equals. Please read some more books to understand better why this is so wrong.

  42. Sonya Marks said it all!

  43. Your rite, they tryna make slavery seem ok well its not because they only tellin half of wat went on in slavery, you rite they wont ever say how george bitch ass washington ripped the teeth out of his slaves mouth for dentures. Fucking idiots white cock suckers

  44. This rhetoric about slaves being 'happy' should be put to rest. Those two words are not synonymous.Slavery=misery. Fiat!!!

  45. BLACK PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY PRISONERS OF WAR,

    MAKE SURE ALL YOUNG BLACK KIDS KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE BEING PRISONERS OF WAR, WHICH IS WHAT WE WERE.. TELL YOUR KIDS NO MATTER WHAT YOUR WHITE TEACHER TELL YOU IN SCHOOL ABOUT SLAVERY AND BLACK PEOPLE ALWAYS COME HOME AND ASK U AND YOU WILL TELL THEM IF IT IS TRUE OR NOT. TELL YOUR KIDS, DO NOT ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOUR WHITE TEACHERS IN SCHOOL TELL YOU..
    This is how they are going to try to brain wash our youth into thinking slavery wasn't that bad, see they was happy to be slave! This book is going to make it into our schools, watch! We have to educate our children

  46. Fuck George Washington! The same people who hate Obama worship Washington, but did Obama ever enslave anyone?

  47. Black people always have been bigger and better than our pains and sufferings; we always find ways to enjoy our existence on the planet amidst the oppression and stubborn racism that don't seem to go away as well as the hatred and violence.

  48. White people are funny. Always wiling 2 justify 'the evil doing of their ancestors.

  49. Whats a real shame is that all of the authors of these articles slamming this book haven't reached out to the author or the illustrator and the majority of them havent even read the book. If they did, they would find out that what no one is saying.. the majority of reviews on amazon.com are from people who have not read the book and who instead jumped on the public lynching of the author of a lovely children's book that is not about slavery. for those that care about the facts..

    FACT.. both the Author and the Illustrator are women of color and this was not meant to offend anyone nor is it a book about slavery. FACTAuthors do NOT have a choice of illustrators when they write their books, Scholastic chose an illustrator who illustrates beautifully but only knows how to illustrate in one style (look at other books she has illustrated all of her characters have the same faces and smiles).. FACT Scholastic and the Illustrator were both asked by the Author to change the artwork to depict them realistically and historically accurate(as that is how the book is written, after years of research by the author) , But all requests were denied. Why isnt anyone pissed at Scholastic? why isnt anyone asking them why they didnt listen to the Author? The book is not meant to glorifly slavery. it is simply telling the story of the first famous chef in America, Chef Hercules and an afternoon that he and his daughter spend baking a cake for George Washington. it is a picture book for young children… stop looking for offense where there is none, it is said in the book that they are slaves, giving children a chance to ask questions in a non threatening way. Please gather all of the facts and think twice before slamming someone elses art..You may not agree with me, but at least I read the book before writing my opinion….

  50. that racist white man george washington did not have to have slaves, no white man had to have prisoners of war. Stop that bullshit. It benefited his raping ass. The problem is white people are trying to make people believe that slavery was a good thing and black people were happy to be raped, beaten and murdered for no reason, forced to work for free, had their land and family members stolen, was happy to be eaten by dogs and happy to have their new born babies fed to crocodiles. FUCK george washington and all his decendants and everything washington had with his raping self. They love to kill and talk bad about black women but just about all white men since the beginning of time loved and enjoyed raping and having sex with women of color.

  51. that racist white man george washington did not have to have slaves, no white man had to have prisoners of war. Stop that bullshit. It benefited his raping ass. The problem is white people are trying to make people believe that slavery was a good thing and black people were happy to be raped, beaten and murdered for no reason, forced to work for free, had their land and family members stolen, was happy to be eaten by dogs and happy to have their new born babies fed to crocodiles. FUCK george washington and all his decendants and everything washington had with his raping self. They love to kill and talk bad about black women but just about all white men since the beginning of time loved and enjoyed raping and having sex with women of color

  52. How would kids ask questions in a "threatening way" to begin with?

  53. This is the truest movie to date. It was banned from the US when it was made. It shows the culture, engineering, and business processes surrounding slavery. People as things for use, not happy servants.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=goodbye+uncle+tom&rlz=1C9BKJA_enUS674US674&oq=goodbye+unc&aqs=chrome.0.0j5j69i57j0.12597j0j4&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8&hl=en-US#imgrc=mwtQypPxuaXglM%3A

  54. "Delia and Papa don’t have the seethes of freedom."

    What the hell does this sentence mean?

  55. Meanwhile, today in Africa, Africans still enslave other Africans, and in the Middle East, Muslims still enslave other Muslims, Christians, and anyone else they can captrue…
    While today in America, if students even learn that slavery existed everywhere else around the word since the dawn of time, the are told those slaves were treated like or almost family members. And they never learn about the brutal treatment of African slaves at the hands of Muslims – which you can still see happening today on the news. #BringBackOurGirls etc…

  56. You're talking about how Indian tribes enslaved other Indians from other tribes after they conquered them, right? Or sold them to pale faces, as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_among_Native_Americans_in_the_United_States

  57. Meanwhile, today in Africa, Africans still enslave other Africans, and in the Middle East, Muslims still enslave other Muslims, Christians, and anyone else they can capture…
    While today in America, if students even learn that slavery existed everywhere else around the world since the dawn of time (not that that justifies it – just shows that it was universely accepted until Britain and America began eradicating it) kids are told those slaves were treated like or almost like family members. And they never learn about the brutal treatment of African slaves at the hands of Muslims – which you can still see happening today on the news. #BringBackOurGirls etc…

  58. Meanwhile, today in Africa, Africans still enslave other Africans, and in the Middle East, Muslims still enslave other Muslims, Christians, and anyone else they can capture…
    While today in America, if students even learn that slavery existed everywhere else around the world since the dawn of time & people of every race were slaves – including Africans owning whites (not that that justifies it – just shows that it was universely accepted until Britain and America began eradicating it) kids are told those slaves were treated like or almost like family members. And they never learn about the brutal treatment of African slaves at the hands of Muslims – which you can still see happening today on the news. #BringBackOurGirls etc…

  59. Tom Simone is Obama an African American by your definition? If so, send me a picture of a black neighborhood in Hawaii or Indonesia. Also did he learn to be a real brother from his Kansas white, communist grand parents or his super fly relatives back in Kenya? Word.

  60. this is appalling! WTF????

  61. The targets are brainwashing our children and their children's children. That's if they have the slim chance to even reach a future…at the rate of this world 's breaking down..:<(

  62. The targets are brainwashing our children and their children's children. That's if they have the slim chance to even reach a future…at the rate of this world 's breaking down..:<(

  63. White supremecy is amazing. Millions of Africans were worked to death on American slave labor camps like Mount Vernon and Monticello. George Washington had a reputation for being the most vicious slave master in Northern Virginia. One of his overseer wrote to Washington complaining because the slave children were naked in the winter time and the other slave's clothing was in rags.

  64. Happy and slavery can't be found in the same sentence

Trackbacks

  1. […] Children’s Book Describes Happy George Washington Slaves. (Atlanta BlackStar) […]

  2. […] Enslaved Africans of George Washington Depicted as 'Happy and Joyful' in New … A children's book published by Scholastic depicting “happy and joyful” enslaved people has stirred outrage amongst both parents and educators. A Birthday Cake for George Washington by Ramin Ganeshram and Vanessa Brantly-Newton is the story of … Read more on Atlanta Black Star […]

  3. […] Enslaved Africans of George Washington Depicted as ‘Happy and Joyful’ in New Children’s Book […]

  4. […] the hashtag ‪#‎slaverywithasmile. More critiques were published over the next two days by Zellie Imani, Colleen Mondor, Charles Pulliam-Moore, Leslie Butler MacFadyen, and many others. Atena […]

  5. […] to the Atlanta Black Star, “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” by Ramin Ganeshram and Vanessa Brantly-Newton […]

  6. […] is pulling a controversial new picture book about George Washington and a family who were enslaved, the publisher said on […]

  7. […] can add A Birthday Cake for George Washington, a children’s book depicting the story of Washington’s slave chef Hercules, to that sub-genre. It tells the story of the ultimate White […]

  8. […] write-ups have gone viral on Twitter, including this one from a librarian and another from Atlantablackstar.com. The post on the Scholastic Facebook page has over 600 comments as of this writing, with many […]

  9. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians in […]

  10. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians in […]

  11. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians in […]

  12. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians in […]

  13. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians […]

  14. […] Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion. Thousands signed a protest petition. Debbie Reese of American Indians in […]

  15. […] how the press was simply reposting the story about the book. When the flurry began on Twitter, the Altlanta Blackstar wrote an expository piece and other online outlets essentially reposted their article. The news […]

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