Museums, libraries, and bookstores are reopening across the United States after a year of lockdown. The start of this cultural reawakening coincided with both the Juneteenth celebration and the first anniversary of one of the greatest anti-racial rallies in American history. As bookstores reopen, several are putting together displays of Black history-themed children’s books. The narrative of the dark-skinned early people who founded human civilization is not found in even the most extensive libraries.
All living people are of African origin, according to the majority of scientists throughout the world. The majority of scholarly studies regarding our African ancestors concentrate on genetics. The formation of human civilization is a portion of the tale that is not well known. We are all derived from dark-skinned forebears, both genetically and culturally. Early people from Africa were the first to create tools, fire, language, and religion. These dark-skinned forefathers established the groundwork for human civilization. Given our forefathers’ short lifespans, these pioneers were most likely in their early twenties. Anyone who follows creative trends will be unsurprised to find that human civilization was largely formed by teens from the beginning. And when I say culture, I don’t just mean the arts; I mean everything.
I want to debunk the myth that evolution denial is based on religion, and instead see it as a kind of white supremacy that promotes segregation and brutality against Black people. The legalistic side of creationists loudly argues that their point of view deserves equal time in the classroom under the cover of “religious freedom.” Anti-evolution groups want biblical myths to be taught as truth, thus science education in the United States is continually on the defense. The Klan backed the first wave of legal challenges against evolution in the 1920s. Since then, entrenched racism has gone hand in hand with the prohibition on teaching evolution in schools. Adam Shapiro claims in his article What We Get Wrong About the Evolution Debate that “the history of American debates over evolution has long been linked with the history of American educational racism.”
The concept of an unbroken white ancestry stretching back to a light-skinned Adam and Eve is at the center of white evangelical creationism. White skin was made in God’s likeness, according to literal readings of the Christian Bible. The genesis of dark skin is distinct and more troublesome. Cain’s curse or mark for killing his sibling, according to the Bible, was a darkening of the complexion of his descendants. Many congregations in the United States have used Cain’s narrative as proof that black skin was created as a punishment.
White ancestry is separated from Black bodies by the idea of a continuous line of white ancestors. In the actual world, this mythology has fatal consequences for people of color. Fundamentalist Bible interpretations are part of the “false news” problem that feeds our country’s racial division.
A loud minority of creationists has monopolized children’s education, media, and book publishing for far too long. In the United States, there are a variety of statistics on creationist views. According to surveys, up to 40% of individuals think that humans have always existed in their current form (i.e., they believe in an unbroken human lineage stretching back to Adam and Eve).
In the classroom, there has been some improvement. The number of instructors who offer evolution without a creationist alternative increased substantially from 51 percent to 67 percent between 2007 and 2019. However, it is insufficient. My goal is that by emphasizing the link between creationism and racist ideology, we will give educators more ammo to bring science into the classroom—and into our culture as a whole.
It’s well known that some school boards, particularly in the South, have battled tooth and nail to keep evolution out of textbooks. What you may not realize is how educational content monitoring evolves into what could be described as “self-censorship” in the children’s book business as a whole. Scientific discoveries concerning human beginnings have been sluggish to make their way into children’s novels. This significant absence underscores the outsized influence of science-denying voices on the publications that end up in libraries, bookshops, and children’s homes, not just in schools. Fear of financial retaliation in the publishing business results in a self-perpetuating scarcity of evolution teaching materials.
If you search Amazon for “children’s books about evolution,” you’ll discover approximately 10–15 relevant volumes. In contrast, there are hundreds of children’s books on other scientific disciplines including chemistry, astronomy, and other less contentious topics. Only one book on evolution for toddlers, Grandmother Fish, was found. The author had to use Kickstarter to self-fund the book.
On the other hand, there are hundreds of children’s books on biblical origin myths available on Amazon. Science deniers are pouring money into an anti-evolution operation that is well-funded. The creationists constructed their Bible-themed museum and amusement park in 2007. They recognize that to reach young children, music, vivid characters, and celebration are required.
The Creator bestows both bodily and cultural humanity to the first humans in the Adam-and-Eve narrative. Adam has always been able to name the animals. Nobody has to come up with a new language or find out how to build tools. Of course, science tells us otherwise. Our bodies and capacities were molded by natural selection. Over millennia, inventive ancient humans worked out the essential abilities that we now take for granted, such as storytelling, cooking, and rope making.
Even in the existing literature on human origins, the final point of evolution is frequently represented as a white guy with a spear. This image not only erases our African history, but also excludes women and children. We need the tale presented in many different ways, by many different voices, because evolution is basic knowledge.
Let us make science education a priority as we work to eliminate systematic racism in all aspects of business, society, academia, and life. To change our connection to the past and create racial justice in the present, we must embrace humanity’s dark-skinned forefathers with love and respect. These ancient individuals made it possible for the rest of us to exist. Part of the process of healing from our racist history is opening our hearts to them and accepting them as courageous, completely human, and deserving of our respect.