Professor Caitilyn Allen, who teaches the Plant pathology and Botany 123... [t]he image was shown during a class discussion on the Irish potato famine, caused by an oomycete organism. The rough tree-of-life diagram included images of bacteria, fungi, plants, animals and oomycetes. Allen said she attempted to use an image of an African woman farmer to illustrate the animal kingdom....But we are animals.
"I explained that too often, scientific images represent all humanity as a white male, and I wanted to give a more representative image, and especially to use a farmer because this class is about agriculture," she said....
"I told my class that it was a mistake to use that image because in addition to my intended inclusive biological meaning, the image also communicated a negative social message. This was the idea that women of color are 'animals' (in a derogatory, non-biological sense: less than human). I thanked her and regret this error. The image will be replaced in future version of this lecture. As I told the class this morning, I appreciate their feedback," she said.
Is it too much to expect that the word "animals" be understood in a "biological sense" in a biological science class?
And I'm sure a teacher who does a slide like that and uses an image of a white man to represent the human animal risks criticism for perpetuating the assumption that the white man is the exemplar of humanity and for rendering women and minorities invisible.