Ok. First Ill say there is no need to drag Ramin Ganeshram anymore, the book is done so the public has been heard. I have a few issues with the book and the backlash, but here is my 2 cents.
I actually read "A Birthday Cake For Washington" because I know Ramin's work to be a thoughtful and entrenched student of the culinary African diaspora, and a writer very engaged in the black culinary experience, so i wanted to be informed when i lodged my objection.
IF we were going to introduce Hercules to children i'm not sure there's a better way to do it given the facts she adds and the whole authors notes section that gives the adult points to share with the child about the truth of Hercules' life, but i think the issue I have is that we aren't honest about slavery as a nation so there is no macro to the books micro. The whole notion of the books value would only be true if there was honesty in the realities of slavery to juxtapose it and unfortunately there is absolutely none in our society's relationship with slavery.
We treat slavery like an acceptable fact globally and unlike the Jewish Holocaust, where there is a right and wrong side where humanity is valued, our peoples Holocaust is treated like a way of life instead of the crime against humanity that it is. The villains in our story are presidents and really a world that felt a moral right to our humanity, and apparently still thinks we aren't deserving of respect and honor paid to the lives stolen and humanity raped. We are made to feel that slavery was a necessary evil that we should just move on from, see the up side in, see the other side in, and that's where I take offense.
How can we try to teach children about slavery when we aren't even honest about it as a nation? I know Ramin and I think she was honestly just trying to give dignity and balance to a historical chef that not many people know about. She was trying to show children that we were chefs with insight and skills and talent even during slavery, but the problem is that its one side to a mistold story. Its an idea that leaves out the most critical lessons and as a result creates a false narrative.