Are There Racist Ideologies Behind the Strategies to Contain Ebola

by Nathanvinski on October 28, 2014 - 4:52pm


            Mario Machado’s article “The Media Covering Ebola: Fear Tactics That Play on Racial, Economic Divides” shows that the majority of major events covered by the media are backed by racist ideologies and ethnocentrism. This has become very clear in the coverage of the Ebola outbreak. Many news stories on the Ebola outbreaks do not demonstrate compassion but rather dehumanize and against West Africans. They are viewed solely as hosts for this terrible disease and that they should be avoided at all costs. This racist point of view can be connected to the global north, south divide related to poverty and development. It all leads up to a racist ideology that West Africans are disease ridden. The media in North America cares only about how the outbreak could affect North Americans but there is no particular care given to the people directly affected by the virus. We, as North Americans, condemn West Africans to death because of our racist ideologies towards and fear of these uncivilized people. Yes Ebola is a concern but the “racist rhetoric excludes the people of West Africa can make controlling the disease even harder.


            Reading this article I do see how the media can portray racist ideologies. I understand that isolating West Africa is not the way to contain the virus and there should be more effort out into helping the people that are directly affected by the virus. Despite this I want to point out that sometimes things can be blown out of proportion. In this particular case I do not think that racism has anything to do with the fact that North Americans are fearful of the West African region. It is feared because it was the origin of the virus, not because the inhabitants are black. I also don’t think that the media made any mention of race when saying that the region has a high rate of Ebola. I also cannot say that race was brought into the idea that travel in and out of the region should be stopped. I wanted to talk about this because I do not think that racism is always to blame and I do not feel like people should blindly believe the claims made by the author. I will admit that people’s fear of the West African region could lead to racism, but racism has no role in the efforts made to contain the Ebola virus.


Ebola being the topic of your post, succeeded to grab my attention as it is a virus which has remained in recent news due to the fact that it is still spreading rapidly. Furthermore, I was interested in finding out what Mario Machado’s article “The Media Covering Ebola: Fear Tactics That Play on Racial, Economic Divides” would have to say with concerns to the racism perpetrated in the media. I find it highly disturbing to see that numerous News Channels took to dehumanizing West Africans, who were the primary victims of the disease and whom underwent the deadliest consequences. I am ashamed to be North American when I see how our elected government has conducted itself with regards to the crisis, alienating and racializing the disease-ridden. That being said, I agree with you when you say that isolating West Africa is not the way to contain the virus. I would go further and add that it is irresponsible and close-minded that our government responded with such blatant racism. This type of ignorance is in no way helpful in aiding the victims nor is it aiding in diminishing the spread of the virus because the mass population will have the tendency to believe the erroneous notion that the disease is influenced by factors such as race. All that this generates is fear and hatred of the Black population, so as you have stated it, racism has no role to play in the efforts to contain the Ebola virus. In my opinion, the media today has a negative influence on the population when it takes a biased position because, in cases such as these, it validates racism. This brings to mind, the way studies promoting scientific racism used to have a great influence on the masses during the 19th century especially. Consequently, news reporters are often times deceitfully seen as purveyors of “truth” and authoritative knowledge as were racist scientists like J.F. Blumenbach. For this reason, I ask myself: Why are the majority of people blindly acquiescing to such lies spread by the media, and relying on biased news reports?