his week, my Facebook feed shared news of a new children's book that depicted happy slaves making a birthday cake for President George Washington, Oh, how I wish I had taken screen shots of the establishment reviews of this book praising its contribution to children's literature. As I prepared to write this post, I went to Amazon.com and the editorial reviews that were there two days ago have mysteriously vanished. In case you have no idea of what I am speaking, check it out here.
Everyone is 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 are out of sugar.
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 will not taste the sweetness of freedom.
New York Times food writer Ramin Ganeshram and acclaimed illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton serve up a slice of history in a picture book narrative that will surely satisfy.
I found out about this book after reading a post entitled, "Why I'm Absolutely an Angry Black Woman!" Once you get over every sentence beginning with "because", you can feel the power of the essay. There were many heart-wrenching and provocative lines in the post, but the line that hit me was, "Because when I was 7 months pregnant my neighbor asked me to help him move a dresser up a flight of stairs. Because I am not seen as a woman. " That statement reminded me of Abbey Lincoln's essay, written in 1966, "Who Will Revere the Black Woman?", June Jordan's "Poem about My Rights", Nikki Giovanni's "Woman Poem" and so many other works of literature like Ta-nehesi Coates, "Between the World and Me" talk about how we are valued as humans and how we value ourselves rather than being seen as ancient beasts from another world - or perhaps, not seen at all.
When, in the 21st century, a major publishing company does not see a problem, not even a historical problem with publishing a book about happy slaves and text book companies are still trying to put peroxide on the past. The relevance of Dr. Kings statements in the video above become very clear. "Believe in yourself and believe that you are somebody." Nobody else can do this for you. Sign your own emancipation proclamation!
While King's message was given to an audience of Black people for their edification, you, whoever you are, can apply this to your life. Protect your heart and your mind from those who belittle your abilities and your dreams. I am not speaking of not being able to enter a major because of poor grades. That is a repercussion of academic performance. I am speaking about failure to move forward or to simply move because you have accepted myths about your abilities and possibilities. Sign your own emancipation proclamation. Nobody else can do this for you. Dream. Climb. Thrive. RSM
P.S. - Below is a speech by Dr. King on how to deal with your enemies. For the purposes of this blog post, how to deal with those who have fed you the aforementioned myths about who you are, those who have sought to dehumanize you, belittle you, or cause you any harm.
Welcome! My name is Rachel Moody. I post weekly announcements and messages to motivate and inspire my UAlbany advisees, and any one else who visits. Comments are welcome! While you are here, have a virtual cup of tea!