New York food writer Ramin Ganeshram is receiving some serious blow back for his new children’s book which portrays an African-American slave family as “happy and joyful.” The book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington has angered both parents and educators alike.
Claiming to be based on true events, the book tells the story of President Washington’s head chef, and his daughter Delia. An excerpt from the book tells the story, “Everyone is buzzing about the president’s birthday…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 positive point of view the book takes on the lives of American slaves shocked readers.
While the book claims that Hercules and Delia were proud and grateful to work for the President, the truth is quite different. The real-life Hercules escaped to freedom in 1797, leaving his young daughter back at Mount Vernon. When someone asked his real-life daughter if she was upset that she would never see her father again she responded, “Oh! Sir, I am very glad, because he is free now.”
The contents of the book went viral on Facebook as many expressed their outrage. In response, the publisher, Scholastic, posted on Facebook to voice their respect for their readerships concerns regarding the book — without any mention of pulling it from shelves. This clearly isn't enough for angry readers, who continued to flood the comments with outrage and disgust at the fact that the book was every published in the first place.
We doubt that will be the end of the controversy and a continued "dialogue" will surely ensue.