REMOVE the two "Happy" Slave Books from Circulation!

REMOVE the two "Happy" Slave Books from Circulation!

January 16, 2016
Petition to
This petition made change with 1,798 supporters!

Why this petition matters

Started by Brown Girl Magic

 Dear Scholastic,

Revisionist history telling is the reason so many white people are ignorant about our history.

Slaves were not happy. Slavery is not a HAPPY event no matter which way you slice it! Slavery can't and won't be NORMALIZED!

You are creating books with whitewashed revisionist history that is harmful to our children. A children’s book published by Scholastic depicting “happy and joyful” enslaved people has us parents and educators outraged and we want the production and publication of the book stopped and taken off shelves.

According to the Atlanta Black Star, "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.

However that is a lie.

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.

This is exactly why some white people don't take the struggles of black people seriously. You are perpetuating a stereotype that slavery is not as bad as it seems and that your ancestors were not horrible racists who ripped a large population of people from their homeland, destroyed their culture, raped, tortured, and killed these people, as well as made them work for them.

This is wrong. Would you ever print a story about Anne Frank baking a cake or cookies for her captors at a concentration camp? Our history is nothing to be made light of and our young boys and girls deserve better. Scholastic penetrates our community through book fairs at our schools yearly.

  • Stop trying to find a way to tell us slavery doesn’t matter.
  • Stop making light of our ancestors getting beaten and raped and forced to do a job and smile and act like they liked it just so they could stay alive!

Ramin Ganeshram clearly is a woman who doesn’t have the best interest of black kids at heart. In her editorial she claims in her research that she found that slaves with higher status positions were proud. Wouldn’t you be smiling so that you would not be whipped and slayed as often now that you weren’t in the fields picking cotton? Wouldn’t you put on a façade when massa strolled by so you wouldn’t get beat until the white meat showed? The slaves were NOT happy; they were coping and dealing with the hand they were dealt while in captivity! Proof is in the fact that Hercules escaped! Why did Scholastic find it important to whitewash and water down our history? #FAIL

Scholastic’s sorry editorial response to this matter further proves that they don’t get it nor respect the fact that we are upset about the book’s content and that we do not want the book to continue in circulation.

Therefore, we parents, educators and friends who understand that a book like this has no place in our school libraries or on shelves or in our homes, stand together with this petition demanding you cease publication of A Birthday Cake for George Washington and Happy Birthday Mr. President by Ramin Ganeshram and Vanessa Brantly-Newton. #RemoveTheseBooks


This petition made change with 1,798 supporters!

Share this petition