Crying “Racism” on Ebola: A Look at the Nation Response to the Outbreak

Ebola is the hot topic of the month. The paranoia surrounding the outbreak has now led to a nation-wide sense of paranoia that is sure to find it’s way into history books soon enough! With the latest death toll nearing 4600, media sites and sources have rushed to present an accurate depiction of Ebola and it’s current scope.

Many have accused media outlets of shedding a negative light on “under-developed” West African nations. This Week’s article for dissection, “Crying Racism on Ebola”, is a play on the tale of “the boy who cried wolf”. I chose this article after reading an October 17th piece from the Washington Post poking fun at Syracuse’s School of Journalism for participating in the hysteria surrounding Ebola. It was odd that a nationally ranked Journalism school would participate in this sort of commotion when they teach the importance of proper journalism and sourcing techniques.

We’ve learned through Environ 320 that there are multiple angles and perspectives to every story. Keeping in mind that journalists have a responsibility to accurately report on issues affecting society (See huffington post article), the “Crying Racism on Ebola” piece debates the possibilities of the hysteria being well-warranted and necessary versus the idea that the paranoia is simply a way to share a “fear of the black patient”. If one were to google a phrase like “differences in treatment of Ebola patients”, one would see better precautions, better facilities, and better overall care of Westerners in contrast to their West African counterparts. The article also discusses Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man charged with “bringing Ebola to America” was painted as a villain, as the writer notes, Nina Pham, a nurse in Texas who also spread the disease, was “immune from criticism”.

Ultimately, the question up for discussion is this: reflecting on the way the media has portrayed the Ebola outbreak, are the lives of Americans worth more or viewed as more important/more valuable than the lives of West Africans?


4 Responses to “Crying “Racism” on Ebola: A Look at the Nation Response to the Outbreak”

  1. I agree with your idea. In my view, any disease have chance to earn people’s respect. Public people should use correct angle to view diseases, we need to find ways to prevent from them by using some protection procedure. Sometimes, people heard Ebola and HIV will have bias on them. however, in order to correct people’s bias, government should strengthen the publication for the Ebola, which let more people know the reason of getting Ebola. And, what kind of habitat will easy to get it;and, the principle of how this virus invade people’s body. Additionally, detailed defense methods are the most important part. After viewing assigned articles and videos, the social media is also a good way to let more people know what is Ebola, and how to defense them. If there is some people near get this disease, you need to help them to get treatment, and prevent infection. For black patient, we should raise mind of caring them, and helping them, but not the fearing. Fearing will discourage patient’s faith.

  2. I think the idea that our lives are more important than the thousands of Africans who have died from Ebola is ridiculous. The way the media has been portraying this epidemic has increased hysteria drastically, putting emphasis on how the United States citizens have a greater potential of catching it now. I agree, media sources need to report honest, informative news, rather than blaming victims of Ebola. Readers/listeners of these news sources tend to put everything into their own seemingly selfish point of view- “what if I get it? Is my family in danger? I don’t want to die!” Just the other day, my friend told me that her mother works at the Michigan Hospital, said there are nurses that are so afraid that they might be exposed to Ebola, that they have quit their job. The news and articles have done a great job at scaring these nurses, thinking their lives are at risk, when in reality, Ebola has not hit the Midwest.

  3. This is a great article Jayla, and I really disliked it.

    For starters, the introduction was in my opinion very overdone. The article’s “Aesop’s Fables” theme was fine for the lede, however it continues to drag on to where we do not see the word Ebola until the fourth paragraph, not to mention the very belated description of the disease almost at the end of the article. I liked the scene setting and use of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” analogy to make the point, however the point was diluted in too many useless words.

    Second, I really disliked this articles argument and support in general. I personally have never used the phrase, “What wolf,” and find it hard to believe that today’s campuses would ever mock racial prejudice in such a desensitized manor. I would have liked to see actual quotes/statistics/any sort of support for the author’s argument besides his own opinion.

    With that said, the fact that race plays a part in how Ebola has been managed is absolutely unarguable. There is no way not to talk about race when the epidemic has only gained the support that it has to date because of its expansion beyond Africa. This article clearly lacked arguments from both sides, and became a very preachy claim that race plays no part in the current Ebola response: which it does.

    All in all I think the author misses the point. In his saying “I am nervous when I hear the word “Ebola” not because it conjures up in my mind images of people who have different-colored skin than I, but because it inspires images of a terrifying ailment,” he completely misses the point that the racism argument is not based on prejudice against the race that Ebola stemmed from, but instead the lack of aid to that race until other races were affected.

  4. In my opinion, the portrayal of Ebola and other infectious diseases in American news is often overdone and creates an unnecessary amount of fear and hysteria. Just yesterday I heard a friend saying she refused to go to South Africa next year to study abroad because “West Africa was too close, Ebola.” People fear this disease so much but it seems like people still don’t know much about it- just to fear the place it began from. In some ways, media portrayal makes people (at least people our age I’ve been in contact with) think our lives are more valuable than the people in West Africa. I don’t know the cause though- it could be solely because we don’t know the people there, so it’s simply a statistic.

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