Atlanta Blackstar reported last night about a children’s book that depicts the conditions of enslaved Black people as happy and satisfied with their own enslavement. A Birthday Cake for George Washington, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated Vanessa Brantly-Newton, focuses on an enslaved chef named Hercules who loves cooking for President George Washington. The story takes a turn for the worse when Hercules and his daughter Delia run out of sugar.
The book makes the institution of slavery look like a 200-year-long vacation where Black folks are enjoying being deprived of basic human rights. The truth isn’t as colorful as the book would indicate. Washington was a notorious slave owner who reportedly owned 200 enslaved Black people at the Mt. Vernon plantation.
“When he was 11 years old, Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father’s estate. He continued to acquire slaves — some through the death of family members and others through direct purchase,” according to The New York Times. “Washington’s cache of enslaved people peaked in 1759 when he married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis.”
The country’s first president was a member of the planter class, as were other founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson. As president, Washington was a firm supporter of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which allowed slave owners to retake runaway enslaved people — even if they escaped to free territories. Mt. Vernon was the scene of horrific violence toward Black people and prompted many to escape.
Parents have created a Change.org petition to get rid of the book and remove it from Amazon. The author has received backlash for writing such a book. Twitter users realized the dangers of a book like this.
— Mrs. & Motherhood (@MrsAndMother) January 15, 2016
will America ever stop trying to cover up the country's racism? https://t.co/iQR24lHyvh
— jean marie (@ghanaiandoll) January 15, 2016
— Shevone Torres (@shevone31) January 15, 2016
The next generation of kids won't even be taught slavery at all…watch https://t.co/TuwGQ5DnSn
— ☥Sehkmet/Hathor☥ (@aannddYOUare) January 15, 2016
Next they'll say that Africans volunteered to adventure to unknown land to work for wage, land and respect. https://t.co/B0KhViwWpS
— KJ McRae (@KJMcRaee) January 15, 2016
"Until the lion learns to tell its side, the story will always glorify the hunter."
— Chisom (@CHI_SOM) January 15, 2016
So we just gone leave out the part where the enslaved were exploited for labor, sex, & stripped of everything? https://t.co/EkCYs3RyFq
— BQ⚡️ (@vlexiz) January 15, 2016
George Washington Was Actually A Terrible Person All Around https://t.co/X2OhGj5ebq
— Ghost (@MADs_Mind) January 15, 2016
Did they really Disney-fy slavery?? https://t.co/uooRaPW9Iu
— Green Bay Titties (@prime_bee) January 15, 2016
What the hell https://t.co/2J2nYFi9OO
— Black And Proud (@kymiller00) January 15, 2016
Systematic historical revisionism https://t.co/uQ8ur1KiGq
— Matthew Feldman (@Feldie) January 15, 2016
LOL….. U… wild… wyd….. tho…? https://t.co/nymQOdqXSL
— jk (@justinkirshon) January 15, 2016
Sidenote: he owned 300+ slaves. Try hiding that. https://t.co/Zjc2BiZm9x
— Notorious Negro (@rovert_sivad) January 15, 2016
WHO TF WROTE THIS SHIT ??????? https://t.co/eLHokFVEyu
— chocolate (@_itsFriDAE) January 15, 2016
Send it back https://t.co/qVom8QLCYB
— Kinsey Clarke-Duncan (@tinykinseyscale) January 15, 2016
"Hercules, a slave, takes great pride in baking…[but] there is one problem – they’re out of sugar" https://t.co/244APDaAvS
— David Kaner (@DavidKaner) January 15, 2016
— Jasmine Wow (@Jmo120) January 15, 2016
Jesus seize the wheel… https://t.co/rDYcrijb14
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 15, 2016
— mongo slade (@themongoslade) January 15, 2016
If you told me there was a book where happy slaves baked a cake for Washington I'd guessed it was an onion thing but https://t.co/ahvVDYmKFF
— Bloody Honey (@BloodyBHoney) January 15, 2016