Racism: a Long-Lasting Disease

by AlexDim on October 28, 2014 - 10:54am

Racism: a Long-lasting Disease

            A New York Times article published on October 21, 2014 titled “Has Ebola Exposed a Strain of Racism?” by Hanna Kozlowska discusses the signs of racism in the American health care system. These signs were brought to light by the presence of the Ebola virus in the United States. The way patients of color are treated seems to differ from white patients. A Liberian man infected with the Ebola virus was sent home without proper treatment from an American hospital in Dallas after reporting a high fever and stomach pain, both symptoms of the deadly disease. He died shortly after. The author references multiple other figures who have spoken or written about this issue. A journalist highlights the differences between the ways members of different “races” are treated: people of white color are usually rushed into care, taking the priority over members of black color. This phenomenon is consistent with what has been observed in the American health care system, according to multiple experts in the field. Furthermore, the media portrays people from the African continent as an indistinguishable crowd rather than individual patients. As a result, discrimination against African travelers is rising in public transportations such as planes or buses. The author concludes the article by providing examples of journalists who dismiss the claims of racism in the treatment of Ebola patients.



            In my opinion, this article does a good job of pointing out signs of racism that came out in a time of crisis. The article’s strength relies on getting its information from reliable sources, such as experts related to the health system. The deadly disease called Ebola has gained a massive amount of attention in the media after its presence in industrialized countries such as the United States has been confirmed. Racism in modern society is characterized by its subtleness relative to “old racism”, which was much more obvious. However, the presence of this deadly virus seems to have brought out clear signs of discrimination. I agree with the fact that doctors and the media seem to favor white patients over patients of color. Ebola is a disease that is associated with Africa thus many individuals often generalize that a person that seems to be of African descent may be infected. When the victim is white however, the media generally gives the case more attention and the population may subsequently have more sympathy for a white victim. A racist ideology which “creates and preserves a system of dominance based on race” (Henry & Tator, 2000) can be found in this article, as doctors have been found to treat white patients better than black patients. The latter were also found to be discriminated in public transportation. There have been reports of passengers purposely avoiding black passengers due to a fear of being infected.

            The only weakness of this article is the lack of empirical evidence it uses to prove its points. Most of the information is formed of opinions or anecdotes of other figures involved in the debate. These figures include journalists who dismiss the claims of racism in the treatment of Ebola patients and perhaps in the healthcare system overall. I disagree with them. They appear to be using a discourse of denial which is basically the refusal to admit that racism occurs in their society, despite evidence proving otherwise. The discourse of equal opportunity is also evident as some seem to think that white-colored individuals as well as people belonging to another “race” have the same opportunities to receive good health care. If that was the case, African patients would be given the same amount of attention in the media as the white patients and colored-skin individuals would not be treated differently by doctors in the health care system. Racism is a disease in its own which needs to be treated in order to create a fair environment for all members of society.




Kozlowska, H. (2014, October 21). Has Ebola Exposed a Strain of Racism? The New York Times.

Retrieved October 25, 2014 from http://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/21/has-


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