It is good to have had Ramin Ganeshram, author of withdrawn book has broken her silence. There is misunderstanding about the chef, slave Hercules, as portrayed in the children’s’ picture book by Ganeshram entitled “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” a former US President. We always like to hear from the proverbial “horses mouth” on an issue especially if there is controversy. Let all views contend.
Revelation that the illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton had little or no communication … essentially worked separately with author Ganeshran is shocking but not surprising. It is like giving a blank cheque (check) to someone … such loose control runs contrary to sound and prudent management principles. The author is likely to lose control of their intellectual/creative property/work in such an environment. The author herself had “concerns” which by speaking out, has given us a fresh perspective on the breakdown and ultimately the final product “A Birthday Cake for George Washington.”
This immediately brings back to mind an experience the undersigned had while in Canada. My article “Racial Harmony Requires Team Work” was virtually hijacked at the very end. The article was edited to read “Every race has its black sheep.” The words “Black Sheep” were never my words … but were mysteriously edited in by “the powers that be.”
I only saw the published article in the newspaper … too late to do anything then.
They Have The Handle …
As writers we invariably are so anxious to see our work in print that we dare not protest …. fearing being labeled a trouble maker or being blacklisted. The editors, publishers invariably have the capital and so the handle … we unfortunately seem to hold the blade. He who pays the piper calls the tune … oh so true!
Editors along with publishers etc. guard their turf jealously. They refer to it as editorial control. Do not expect any real changes soon. This also applies to record labels and even marketing programmes for products etc.
We say to Ganeshram, welcome to the real world of literary gymnastics. The only thing you ever seem to have sole control over is thought and even that at times people/editors want to manipulate … if they get a chance to so do.
We are glad to know you had “concerns” and have not kept silent. Do get on with your life madam Ganeshram …
. “Many rivers to cross”, according to musical legendary superstar Jimmy cliff, a Jamaican.
The undersigned still maintain the view that the illustration Book should be revisited and adjustments made. Also do share the view that not all slaves were poorly treated by their slave masters. This is not an acceptance of slavery … an inhuman despicable activity which is an affront to human dignity. Ganeshram’s comment that ” These people were individual human beings, with their own pride, with their own foibles. And to reduce them to only slaves is incredible” for me appears to be a fair comment.
Editor Andrea Davis-Pinkey appears to have questions to answer.
Hercules appear to have been an exemplary human being, a very creative chef, despite his station in life.
Our Successes as Blacks …
Slavery was abominable, but it has left us very creative and valuable to the arts. As people of colour we have a lot to be proud of … Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Frazer Pryce, Chris Gayle, Obama, Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Desmond Toto, … many black owned businesses, inventions etc. to name a few of our successes, heroes and heroines.
Do republish “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a published poet, satirist and is also the Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.