It's a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake. If the slaves are lazy.
You gotta do the cooking by the book. Negros reading? That's crazy!
I assume the people who let this slide thought the research done and using GW's actual slave's names made it all better. It would be interesting to hear Hercules' story, but a children's book is not the right medium.
Binro the Heretic
I'm sure Hercules DID prefer being a cook over being a field worker or doing other grueling manual labor.
What I don't think the author has a firm grasp of is the fact if Hercules didn't cook the best meals he could for the Washington family, he & his family would have lost his nice clothes, small comforts and been sent outside to dig in the dirt, chop wood, etc.
It's hard to know if he really "took pride" in cooking well or if he did it because he and his family had so much riding on it.
I wonder to what extent he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor? Would he be able to get more than just a taste of a grand feast he prepared? Would his family get to try his cakes? If not, he sadly wasn't even able to enjoy the best part of being an artist.
I think it just depended on the owner: it's a horrible old stereotype but the reason why chicken and watermelon has become synonymous with African American culture is that owners didn't allow for silverware for the slaves, so unlike a steak or a cake, those are two things that are easily consumed without forks and knives. "Good" slave owners on the other hand may have provided silverware. Unfortunately we'll probably never know with Hercules.
The whitewashing of Washington's slaves needs to come to an end sooner rather than later. Only by making it clear that even the vast majority of America's founding fathers were slaveowners will the true magnitude of the crime be comprehended, and progress made in dealing with the effects it's still having on American society.
And I don't even think Washington was a great villain in the big picture.
But he was a slaveowner. And that needs to be part of his legacy.
Yeah I agree. Somewhere back in time my mom's side of the family owned a few slaves. She told me at a pretty young age and I freaked out and got really pissed, because at that age I only knew slavery as being bad, and that "good" slave owners didn't exist. I had a similar freakout when I found out that my great uncle was one of the head scientists on the Manhattan Project, but that's a story for another day. Anyway I basically hated my ancestry.
So I'm a little torn on this: I was in elementary school when the 500th anniversary of "In fourteen hundred and nintey two Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue" and we had to write a paper about the man. Mine was about what he did once he got here and the atrocities he committed, and I got sent to the principal and I had to rewrite it into "Columbus saw land and 'Land Ho'" because we all had to read our papers out loud. Easiest A I've ever gotten! That's because Columbus was nothing but a hero at that age.
So a childrens book tackling the sensitive topic of slavery and how they lived seems to make sense to me, so they have a perspective of what went on at an early age, rather than learning it themselves later. But on the other hand, try watching Show Boat again as an adult. :(
IZ, your credibility is fast approaching Evilhomers what with you having a personal story for fuckin everything ever.
If aliens show up, im sure you'll have talked to the negotiator at a bar or something.
Or you're an elderly Mexican man with white hair that likes XX beer.
Think whatever you want SolRo. It's cool. The reason why I like posting here is it IS a chance for everyone to tell an anecdote or something. Like poe-news (where the LJs were a LOT longer than anything I've ever seen on here) it's a pretty small community vs. the big wide world of Internet, so I like hearing and giving personal perspective on a story or video, be it front page news or MLP YTP, since it was voted up by a group of my peers. We all ramble on a bit long from time to time, I know I do, but I wouldn't like it any other way.
And for the record I like Tecate; hold the lime just a pint glass with a pinky's worth of grapefruit juice. Makes a nice rattler. Dos Equis is gross and overrated just like Stella Artois. But you got me, I'm a 55 year old mexican man with white hair, and not some rainy hipster in Portland.
|Binro the Heretic |
So when George Washington became paranoid Hercules might try to escape, he stripped him of his finery and made him work outside the house doing hard labor. This ended with Hercules using the hubbub and confusion during the celebration of Washington's 65th birthday and retirement from the Presidency to escape.
Hercules was unable to take his family with him. When Washington died, he left it in his will that all his slaves should be freed. Unfortunately, since their mother was one of Martha Washington's slaves, Hercules' children were not among those freed.
Then there was the time Washington got fed up with one slave who made several escape attempts and sold him to a Caribbean sugar farm where he would surely be worked to death as punishment. We have the actual letter written by Washington to the slave trader which includes a grocery list of items Washington wants purchased with proceeds from the slave's sale as evidence.
You won't see any of that in this book, though. Nope, it's all smiles and wanting to make George Washington the bestest cake, ever. Seriously, this is like the sort of children's book you would see in the city of Columbia from "Bioshock Infinite". How in the fucking fuck did grown adult people approve its publication?
Even worse, the illustrator is a Black woman, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, whose work I really like and respect. How the Hell could she even be part of this?
I agree with this too. I think the book's heart was in the right place though. I would've rather learned about slavery in picture book form than I did later on, so I could ask my mom questions I didn't have time to ask at school. Buuuuut I seriously doubt if it gets into anything beyond making a cake.
"You won't see any of that in this book, though. Nope, it's all smiles and wanting to make George Washington the bestest cake, ever."
The same thing that's wrong with "Song of the South": it's not so much that it depicts blacks as lazy or hostile, it leaves a false impression that post-Civil War race relations in the South were fine.
I sure wouldn't show my kids a movie that depicted Nazis and Jews getting along as pals. Except for that sitcom I always wanted to do about an Orthodox Jew whose job was to educate a Hitlerjugend brigade. They'd address the elephant in the room in the first episode and never touch it again:
"But Herr Lowenstein, if you are Jewish, vhy are you our teacher?"
"Vhat, a man should turn down a job, because he disagrees vit his boss's politics?"
There are hijinks and misunderstandings and life lessons, and every episode ends with smiles and hugs as Herr Lowenstein leads the kids in a song about the blood of the Jews filling the street.
Heh.. a little off topic but I was dating this girl a few years ago and since she had netflix I recommended Iron Sky, which was the only movie we watched together. She didn't get the joke at all and that was when I sort of decided to break up with her, but she broke up with me first. :(
But yeah your Song of the South allegory is probably better than my Show Boat one. I've never seen the actual movie but I know "zippadedooda" just like everybody else probably does, and I vaguely remember when they re-released it in the 1980s when I was a kid and there being a big hoopla about it.
"Then there was the time Washington got fed up with one slave who made several escape attempts and sold him to a Caribbean sugar farm where he would surely be worked to death as punishment. We have the actual letter written by Washington to the slave trader which includes a grocery list of items Washington wants purchased with proceeds from the slave's sale as evidence.
"You won't see any of that in this book, though."
Which is a shame, because that could have been a plot point: Hercules had to request help from his fellow slave who was now making sugar in a whimsical, Wonka-esque Caribbean sugar factory.
Man, the literature that has been around to poison children's minds. When I was in second grade or so, there was a biography of Thomas Jefferson I liked, if I had to guess it was written in 1950 maybe. I remember a scene that I thought was pretty cool, where some of TJ's dad's slaves were trying to pull a shed down but couldn't, so TJ's dad had them tie ropes around him and he pulled the shed down all by his lonesome.
Now as a kid I understood that slavery was wrong, but it happened, so it's only proper to acknowledge it in a perfectly factual biography like I was reading. But based on my vague memories, I bet there was a strong tone of the absolute INFERIORITY of blacks as well. As a kid I thought they were just saying that TJ's dad was a bull of a man and there was no implied commentary on the abilities or industriousness of the slaves. That's how you plant seeds of racism in a kid's mind.
Side note, I read an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates that has persuaded me that we owe reparations to blacks:
What sells me on it is that it's not just about what happened 400 years ago or 150 years ago or even 50 years ago. Racial injustices still go on to this day, they still all seem to work in favor of the people they always have, and White America is not really willing to change. As such, it's not a "that was a long time ago" matter where we can't even point to living victims; there are plenty of living victims of all ages.
Sadly, White America will never allow any form of reparations.
Ok, so. Is there really an appropriate way to present slavery to the picture book crowd?
Yeah, that's what I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Like Bort said it shouldn't matter WHEN it happened, but rather WHY. Growing up for me was a lesson in segregation. In fact, until I think 1990 there were protests about changing the name of Union Ave to MLK, and more recently Cesar Chavez Blvd. which was like 4 years ago.
Step one: Maybe don't imply that a slave's worst problem in life is running out of sugar.
But to answer you RikkiTikki, the answer is, I'm not sure. Still trying to figure out a good way. The only thing I can think of was another Scholastic (I think) textbook that followed the story of an exchange student in Berlin. She loves her homestays but finds out about Germany's past halfway through and wonders why her German family away from her family could be so nice but Germans can be so cruel, tries to run away, something like that. A little bit of white guilt might help the youngins.But just a pinch.
|Miss Henson's 6th grade class |
HERCULES! HERCULES! HERCULES!
|Maggot Brain |
By the same people that brought you "Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings: A Love Story" and "That Bad Man In The Stovepipe Hat."
|American Standard |
White Americans sure are invested in The Happy Tom.
I guess they like to think they're somehow absolved if they can push the story the dehumanized, beaten, raped, worked-to-death labor that built their country's fortune maybe kinda liked it sometimes.
Also, fuck you MaggotBrain for beating me to the "But Jefferson and Hemmings were clearly in LOVE!" joke.
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