Ebola: The Virus of Racism

by Béatrice on October 28, 2014 - 5:54pm

In the article “Ebola, Poverty, and Racism”, Thadeus Pato claims that the Ebola virus is not a new discovery, that Scientifics discovered the disease back in 1976. The last epidemic before this present one was in Uganda and in Congo, in 2007. The disease is transmitted through body fluids. Even if it dies immediately when it is outside the body fluids, the mortality is still high because the virus “likes to multiply”. In fact, the Ebola virus does not come from human, it comes from bats. Human contracted the disease by accident. The sociopolitical situation in Africa is not easy. Ebola virus spreads out because the medical infrastructures are not modern and reliable, because people are not always well educated and because a part of the population does not trust the discourse of the government and the authorities. In other words, a poor country has much more chance to contract an epidemic and to spread it easy and fast. Afterwards, the author enters the world of racism. He states that “affected foreigners are not treated like the local population.” Recently, experimental vaccines had been released, but the quantities are limited. Who gets the chance to try them? Some affected Americans, and then Africans. Speaking of vaccine, the development of a treatment was not happening before Ebola was touching our people. When Africans were touched, we never tried to find a solution. Pato finishes his article with a comparison: if malnourishment was contagious, if it could be imported to North America or Europe, we would have fought fast and find a solution...

To begin, I think that the last say of Pato’s article is powerful; it means that we, as Canadians, only find a vaccine because the disease is now our problem too. What is good about the article is that it is a recent matter. It proves that racism still exists. I think that the division between them and us is a racial ideology. The division is created by the Ebola virus. We say that they contract Ebola because they are Africans, which could be seen as common knowledge, but is actually nonsense. In the article, the author says that “until now, [the vaccine] was happening very slowly – given that the main target group is not very solvent at all”. I do not know if he heard that or if he is being sincere, but still, he is blaming the victims, which is a discourse of democratic racism. He is saying that this virus is their fault. Is it just me or it sounds crazy? It also could be seen as individualism, which is also a discourse of democratic racism in which all people are rational and act in their own interest. In other words, Africans did not find any treatment to Ebola because they do not want to, it is their personal choice. Nobody can be indifferent of any diseases, especially when it affects you and your country. One way or another, blaming the victim or having an individualist discourse, it is sad that we do not even realize that we are being racist when we are not helping Africans, since new racism is everyday racism. New racism is really sneaky.

 

Reference:

Pato, Thadeus. "Ebola, Poverty, and Racism." N.p., 6 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/ebolapovertyracism

Comments

The twist in your title really enticed me into reading your post. I also loved how your post touches upon an angle of Ebola that is not talked about especially since it is an issue we hear a lot these days. I do find it odd that your summary is the same size as your response but at the same time, there is a a lot of information that puts the reader in perspective. I agree with a lot of the ideas you brought up especially the one about not helping Africans because it does not affect us in any way. As humans, we should be able to empathize with others and try to help them as much as we can no matter what the skin colour. In the end, what happens to those who are less fortunate than us is indirectly or directly our fault. Using the argument this way definitely makes it sound like the countries who are not helping Africans are superior to them. It is sad to think that some people will not help others in need because it is out of their way or it does not advantage them. However, I wonder if the reason countries hesitate to help Ebola victims is really due to racism. I find it hard to believe that a country would sacrifice thousands of lives just because all of the victims are Black. This post only leads me to question the good faith of powerful governments because they seem to prioritize people of their own company who have the resources to cure themselves instead of the people in Africa fighting for their lives due to insufficient hygienic and medical resources.