Yesterday, Scientific American published an article titled “Race, Evolution and the Science of Human Origins.” I can’t help but think that the title is a mockery of Phillipe Rushton’s “Race, Evolution and Behavior.” I also couldn’t help but notice that, despite its flaws, Rushton’s book is a lot more scientific than the the Scientific American article, whose author, “Allison Hopper, is a filmmaker and designer with a master’s degree in educational design from New York University.” From the article, it’s obvious that her primary concern is “social justice,” and not science.
Our first clue is in the subtitle: As museums reopen let’s introduce ourselves, and our children, to the original Black ancestors of all human beings.
Even though she’s referring to our paleolithic ancestors, she capitalizes “Black,” which makes no sense at all; “Black” refers specifically to black Americans, also sometimes called “African-Americans.” If she’s referring to a color, it still doesn’t make sense; the assumption is that they were dark-skinned, but there’s no way to know whether their color was black, brown, olive or some other hue. Even if she meant to say they were negro, it’s unlikely that modern racial classifications were applicable that far back.
She dives into social justice rhetoric from the very first paragraph:
This cultural reawakening’s beginning coincided with both the Juneteenth holiday and the one-year anniversary of the one of the largest protests in American history against racial injustice. As bookstores reopen, many are organizing displays of children’s books that celebrate Black history. What you won’t find in even the biggest collections of books is the story of the dark-skinned early people who launched human civilization.
Of course, it’s absurd to suggest that there’s any connection, whatsoever, between our (alleged) dark-skinned paleolithic ancestors and concepts such as “Juneteenth” and “racial justice.” Does Miss Hooper believe that Gay Erectus was fleeing racism and colonialism in Africa, or perhaps Heidelberg Person was kidnapped for slavery, forcibly removed from the Motherland – and then fled to freedom using a stone-aged equivalent of the Underground Railroad, run by a primitive version of Harriet Tubperson?
She goes on:
The global scientific community overwhelmingly accepts that all living humans are of African descent.
This is not correct; much doubt has been cast upon the Out of Africa hypothesis, most recently by a discovery in China. It now seems likely that humans evolved in various locations. In any case, we can no longer assume that all modern humans came from Africa.
Miss Hopper seems to be obsessed with dark-skinned people, and lumps them all together, recklessly, in a hopeless mishmash:
We are all descended genetically, and also culturally, from dark-skinned ancestors. Early humans from the African continent are the ones who first invented tools; the use of fire; language; and religion. These dark skinned early people laid down the foundation for human culture.
Even if this is true, so what? What difference does it make to us if your distant ancestors were “dark-skinned” or not? This has no relevance to our modern world. Until we recover actual DNA from these early African hominids, all we have to go on is conjecture when it comes to their skin-color – and frankly, most of us simply don’t care.
Miss Hopper seems to be working on an assumption that “racist white people” actually care about skin-color. News flash: It means very little to us. What we care about is behavior, what some might refer to as “content of character.” We would rather have purple-black neighbors who are civilized than light-skinned savages. When we refer to skin-color, most of the time, it’s only as shorthand for demographics whose most important trait is their behavior. Not to say that we don’t appreciate the aesthetic components of our race(s), but this is secondary for most of us.
I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies. Under the guise of “religious freedom,” the legalistic wing of creationists loudly insists that their point of view deserves equal time in the classroom. Science education in the U.S. is constantly on the defensive against antievolution activists who want biblical stories to be taught as fact.
“Black bodies?” What kind of doofus would approve such terminology in a (supposedly) scientific journal? The term itself makes no sense; must we be told that it’s not the souls of black people that are black, or their possession, but their bodies? If this is an attempt to showcase the historic reduction of black people to slaves, whose only value is in the labor their bodies can provide, then perhaps Miss Hopper should take her message to the millions of white women who fetishize black males – for their “black bodies.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Miss Hopper is one of them herself.
It’s amusing that Miss Hopper accuses white conservatives/ right-wingers of evolution-denial, when the most germaine example of evolution-denialism is race-denialism. Race-realism is predicated upon human evolution – primarily during the past 40 thousand years or so. Race-denialism is predicated upon the refusal to acknowledge that 40 thousand years is enough time for populations to diverge in meaningful ways – and plenty of evidence points to the fact that it is.
The article goes on to attack Christianity, and it never seems to occur to Miss Hopper that many millions of blacks, from around the world, have embraced Christianity, and that this faith provides strength and courage to improve their lives and the societies around them. To deprive black people of Christianity is among the worst things one can do to them.
Shame on Scientific American for publishing such rubbish!