By Ryan Velez
The Grio reports that the discussion of the origins of the human race in Africa at a Texas university lecture has led to a group of white students walking out on the classroom. According to student Justine Lundy, Dr. R. Jon McGee started his Cultural Anthropology class by discussing that the lecture that day would be about race. He then began talking about the Black Lives Matter movement and explaining how it came about, before mentioning that human life began in East Africa. This proved to be a very divisive discussion topic.
“It was dead silent,” Lundy recalled, save for one student replying with a sarcastic “sure.” At this point, students decided to leave the classroom, while some that did not leave but were offended began to argue the point. “A lot of people left,” said class attendee Karene Taylor. “It was embarrassing.”
Lundy feels that it’s not necessarily the idea of humans originating from Africa that started the walkouts and arguments. In fact, she defends her professor’s take on the group, who have come under fire from many different organizations and individuals over their protests regarding the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. “McGee wasn’t picking sides or anything — he kept reiterating that.” Regardless, the topic is still a sensitive one, and she sees the African portion of the lecture as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
When asked about the event, McGee suggests that things may have been a bit blown out of proportion, not having even seen the dissent himself due to the size of the class. However, he notes that “it is possible that someone didn’t like the topic and walked out.” He explains that “as a whole, I think the group is open-minded. Understanding other peoples’ perspectives is a basic part of cultural anthropology.”
Scientifically, the idea of humans originating in Africa has much merit. The “out of Africa” theory is widely accepted as the common origin of the human race, following years of research from The University of Cambridge’s Andrea Manica and his team, comparing thousands of skulls to each other.