The stigmatization of Africans over Ebola

Amina Abdul-Kareem, Staff Writer

The ugly truth is when Africa is mentioned people think of a disease-infested continent filled with poverty and uncivilized people. The ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa hasn’t helped Africans from being stigmatized in the slightest.

My family is from Somalia, a country in East Africa. A country, that is infamous for piracy after the 2008 U.S cruise ship hijack. I often find someone who will joke and ask if I’m a pirate or if I’m related to any of the Somali pirates in “Captain Phillips.”

Now the new joke is if I know anyone who has Ebola in Africa.

At first I thought people were joking, but I started to realize that a lot of people are either ill-informed or ignorant, which results to the misconceptions about Africa.

First off, Somalia is in East Africa where there have been zero reported cases of Ebola.  What people don’t realize, only three out of 47 countries in Africa are battling Ebola.

My question was where does all this stigmatization come from? Of course the media itself plays a huge role, but look at Google, a supposively non-biased source where we get information from on a daily basis. If you search “African people” on google images, there’s pictures of indigenous people, but if you continue to scroll down more and more pictures of starving children begin to appear.

What’s even worse is Google’s suggested related searches above say “poor” and “starving”

Yes, there have been over 3,000 deaths from Ebola in West Africa, but that does not give Americans the right to label every African who appears to be sick and has recently traveled from Africa with Ebola.

Instead of stigmatizing Africans, the US government should bring resources to West Africa. If we fought the disease over there to begin with it most likely wouldn’t have been carried over to the US.

Let’s remember that America is filled with extremely privileged people, one case of Ebola in the US and there’s a sudden outburst. Meanwhile over 3,000 people have died in West Africa and no one started to care until now.