Over the last couple of centuries, archaeology has gone a long way towards tracing the glittering past of Mesoamerica—a complex, lengthy process of indigenous development, independent of similar trajectories in the “Old World,” producing along the way the glories of the Olmec, Maya, and related cultures. But that’s not how certain Afrocentrists see it.
Apparently, Olmec civilization was sparked off when a boatload of Egyptian Nubians (plus a few Phoenicians) landed on the shores of Central America in the distant past and taught the benighted indigenes the arts of civilization, pyramid building, agriculture, and all sorts of advanced ideas. The grateful natives commemorated their mentors by carving their likenesses in stone on a huge scale—the massive Olmec heads, which are alleged to display typical African features.
Now, this pseudohistorical narrative and others like it have been debunked in every detail, but they are still pushed by scholars with Afrocentrist agendas. This has naturally pissed off some descendants of the Olmec and Maya, who rightly regard it as an erasure of their historic legacy as well as arrant pseudoscience. Pushback has begun: a program at the University of New Mexico which includes the “Black Olmec” myth has sparked an online campaign and petition, which can be reached through the above link. Please support your local Olmec by signing the petition.