[I know this is an old one, but it seems to be an on-going discussion.] Humans are classified as animals, as vertebrates, as mammals, and yes, as apes. There is evidence that homo-sapiens originated in Africa and migrated from that region to various other regions of the world. It is incredibly unfortunate that the term “animal” and “monkey” and “ape” has been used so often to de-humanize other people – notably black people. The fact that Africans, in the recent past, have been treated like zoo animals in the United States is absolutely reprehensible. However, to a scientist the term “ape” does not have that connotation. It is not a means of putting someone down – any more than mentioning that we are mammals or vertebrates. It is terrible that the hurt caused by Social Darwinists, eugenicists and others – who misused and distorted evolutionary biology (in ways Charles Darwin, even as a product of his day, rejected) – is still so raw that essentially stating an observation as scientifically straight-forward as mentioning that we need to eat to sustain ourselves, we have a spine, we don’t lay eggs, and we walk on two legs, is cause for so much “awkwardness”.
In an awkward and embarrassing confrontation with a Christian (who happens to be African), atheist Richard Dawkins maintains with all the unabashed fervor of a religious fanatic that he is an “African Ape” and “proud” and insists that the Christian should feel the same way.
And they say evolution is not a religion.