The enormous backlash prompted Children's Book Daily to scrap the article, though many wanted the site to keep it as yet another entry in the Museum Of Easily Preventable Internet Mistakes. Also pushing for a teachable moment was Dvir Abramovich, head of the Australian Anti-Defamation Commission, who used the incident as part of their advocacy for mandatory Holocaust education -- preferably before someone in Melbourne named their German language summer camp "Mein Kampf."
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Children's Books Keep Insisting That Black People Loved Slavery
A Fine Dessert and A Birthday Cake For George Washington are two amazing literary resources on American slavery. Yes, they truly teach us all how to absolutely not tackle that issue.
2015's A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, written by children's author Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, shows children throughout the ages learning to make a sugary mess called blackberry fool. It drew some pretty sharp criticism because of one particular entry, set on a South Carolina plantation in 1810. That might be because the book portrays the protagonists, an enslaved mother and her enslaved daughter, having the time of their lives picking blackberries, making the dessert for their white owners, and finally hiding in a closet to lick the master's bowl clean.
Sophie Blackall/ScholasticNothing tastes better than leftovers mixed with spit.
Jenkins apologized for the insensitivity, and donated her writing fee to the We Need More Diverse Books initiative. And that would've been the end of that, except that publisher Scholastic has a very short memory. Barely a year later, they gave the go-ahead to A Birthday Cake For George Washington, another installment in their sweets 'n' slaves genre.
Written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, it tells the "true" story of an enslaved cook named Hercules who loved baking treats for his favorite president/owner, George Washington. Of course, the true true story was that Hercules tried to escape Washington's estate countless times, and eventually did so only by abandoning his entire family, whom the Washingtons refused to free.
Vanessa Brantley-Newton/ScholasticWhitewashing has never smelled more delicious.
Both Scholastic and Ganeshram defended the book, with the latter mentioning "slave work pride" -- a term you usually only hear muffled by a white hood. A small portion of justice was eventually served, as the publisher gave in and pulled the book when they realized people simply weren't that into pretending slavery was merely a misunderstood vocational training program.
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