GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Kenneth Muhammad is concerned that one of the history books his 7th-grade son uses in a Grand Rapids public school gives the impression black children are inferior to white children.
In "History Alive! The Ancient World," Chapter 2 talks about the evolution of man. One illustration of an early hominid , he said, depicts the ancestors of black people looking like apes - unclothed, with small brains.
Later in the chapter when talking about Homo Sapiens , the illustrations depict an early human that looks white, is more intelligent and uses tools.
Muhammad took his concerns to GRPS district leaders and wants the book banned from the classroom.
"The initial problem I had was that my son's origin is painted as some type of beast or a monkey man of sorts, walking through the landscape of Africa with no clothes on, eating animals without cooking them, and this of course is speculation," he told 24 Hour News 8. "We don't know that those people did that or any people did that. Those anthropologists are speculating, and for my son to be taught that is like a needle being filled with poison and injecting it into his brain."
District officials said they do not teach this chapter, but not because of the content. Instead they focus on the sections of the book that will help the students pass the standardized state tests.
GRPS district leaders Mulonge Kalumbula and Carolyn Evans told 24 Hour News 8 they go throughout a lengthy process to adopt a book. Teachers, parents and the school board are all involved. They take into account whether or not the book sparks discussion topics, if it flows and is easy to read, if it takes into account all races, cultures and genders, if the scientific conclusions are current and if the illustrations are appropriate.
Kalumbula, the Superintendent of Curriculum for Social Studies and Evans, the Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, said this book is used by many other districts in the area, and around the country and they do not plan to pull it.
They have set up a date to meet with Muhammad to address his concerns.
Dr. Judi Corr is an Associate Professor at GVSU with a specialty in Biological Anthropology , with an emphasis on non-human primates.
She said all humans - regardless of skin color -- originate from Africa.
Anthropologists are not 100% sure how each group really looked, she said Wednesday. But after looking at the picture of Australopithecus in the book -- the one with which Muhammad takes issue -- she said it is not illustrating a human at all. That early form of hominid is not actually a human the way we know humans to be. It is more of an ape with a smaller brain size.
Scientists, she said, believe it did have a family structure and lived in groups.
Corr said that after migrating from Africa, other forms of hominids - like Homo Sapien Neanderthals , whose bones were found in Europe - may have developed lighter pigmentation over hundreds of years as they moved further from the equator and didn't need as much melanin in their skin to protect them from the sun.
Though this subject matter can cause emotional reactions, she said, people should not make generalizations about the intelligence of a particular race based on a text book in early human development.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has condemned GOP National Committeeman Dave Agema's statement that gay people are seeking health insurance for same-sex partners because they are dying of AIDS and want free medical care.
The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature has passed a law banning almost all abortion coverage from health insurance plans unless an additional policy is bought.
Thermotron Industries, a business that's been located in Holland for more than 40 years, was raided by the FBI Wednesday morning.