Emily Jenkins, the author of “A fine dessert” apologised for racial insensitivity!

It took up to 9 months for Emily Jenkins to respond to the criticism of the misleading deception of slavery.[1]

‘Difficult truth’ detail from one of the illustrations to ‘A Fine Desert’ of smiling slaves.
‘Difficult truth’ detail from one of the illustrations to ‘A Fine Desert’ of smiling slaves. [6]
Emily Jenkins published her book, on Tuesday January 27, 2015[2]the book was thought to of, harmed the descendants of enslaved black people.[3]From the day she published it, it had offended many people. It took up to 9 months for Emily Jenkins to confront these criticisms, as she replied on Wednesday October 28,2015 saying: “I am hearing what you say and absorbing it.”[4]The concerns that were raised, were towards the illustrations of smiling slaves,[5] which was a slave girl and mother making pudding in South Carolinain 1810, before hidden in a cupboard afterwards to lick the bowl.[6]Elisa Gall said: “I’m questioning if working to make a dessert and then having to hide to taste it, is an honest enough representation of the experience of slavery in South Carolina in 1810.”[7]

Conversely, there was also a lot of positive opinions towards this book to the extent that there are parts of the book that can be appreciated, however it cannot all be accepted as right and not racial.[8]On Friday October, 23,2015 the illustrator of the book: Sophie Blackall decided to explain the choices that was made for putting together the representation of the characters, (slaves) used.[9]However this did not change the concerns of which the public had. As Allison McGevna commented that:“her explanations leaves a thinly-veiled, deep-rooted misrepresentation of the true horrors of slavery.”[10]Following on from this on Sunday November 1, 2015, Emily Jenkins wrote: “I have come to understand that my book, while intended to be truthful and hopeful, is racially insensitive. I own that and am very sorry.”[11] The responses towards Emily Jenkins apology were very positive. As Mike Jung said:“I’m glad that Emily Jenkins apologized like this unreservedly without defensiveness.”[12] Emily Jenkins donated the fee she earned for writing the book, to ‘We Need Diverse Books.’ With this being said, she posted this online to let everyone know how genuinely sorry she really was.[13]


[1]Smith, R. (2015). A Fine Dessert – The Horn Book. [online] The Horn Book. Available at: http://www.hbook.com/2015/09/blogs/calling-caldecott/a-fine-dessert/#_ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[2]Amazon, (2015). A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat: Amazon.co.uk: Emily Jenkins, Sophie Blackall: 9780375868320: Books. [online] Available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fine-Dessert-Centuries-Families-Delicious/dp/0375868321 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[3]Smith, R. (2015). A Fine Dessert – The Horn Book. [online] The Horn Book. Available at: http://www.hbook.com/2015/09/blogs/calling-caldecott/a-fine-dessert/#_ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[4]Smith, R. (2015). A Fine Dessert – The Horn Book. [online] The Horn Book. Available at: http://www.hbook.com/2015/09/blogs/calling-caldecott/a-fine-dessert/#_ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[5]Mobile twitter, (2015). Twitter. [online] Available at: https://mobile.twitter.com/gallbrary/status/658380408304726017?p=v [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[6]Flood, A. (2015). Children’s author sorry for ‘racial insensitivity’ in picture book showing smiling slaves. The Guardian. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/04/childrens-author-sorry-racial-insensitivity-smiling-slaves-emily-jenkins-a-fine-dessert [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[7]Gall, E. (2015). A Fine Dessert: Sweet Intentions, Sour Aftertaste. [online] trybrary. Available at: https://trybrary.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/a-fine-dessert-sweet-intentions-sour-aftertaste/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[8]Schliesman, M. (2015). On Letting Go. [Blog] Reading While White. Available at: http://readingwhilewhite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/on-letting-go.html [Accessed 30 Nov. 2015].

[9]Blackall, S. (2015). Drawings and Snippets and Breaking News, (but more snippets than breaking news). [Blog] Blog Spot. Available at: http://sophieblackall.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/depicting-slavery-in-fine-dessert.html [Accessed 30 Nov. 2015].

[10]McGevna, A. (2015). When Will We Stop Allowing ‘Good Intentions’ To Be An Excuse For Whitewashing History?. NEWS ONE. [online] Available at: http://newsone.com/3238512/when-will-we-stop-allowing-good-intentions-to-be-an-excuse-for-whitewashing-history/ [Accessed 30 Nov. 2015].

[11]Smith, R. (2015). A Fine Dessert – The Horn Book. [online] The Horn Book. Available at: http://www.hbook.com/2015/09/blogs/calling-caldecott/a-fine-dessert/#_ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[12]Barack, L. (2015). Emily Jenkins Apologizes for “A Fine Dessert”. [online] School Library Journal. Available at: http://www.slj.com/2015/11/industry-news/emily-jenkins-apologizes-for-a-fine-dessert/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

[13]Smith, R. (2015). A Fine Dessert – The Horn Book. [online] The Horn Book. Available at: http://www.hbook.com/2015/09/blogs/calling-caldecott/a-fine-dessert/#_ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2015].

 

 

 

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