The implicit racism in Ebola tragedy

(CNN) — The tragedy of Ebola is not just its staggering toll. It’s also the implicit racism that the deadly virus has spawned. The anecdotes are sickening, particularly a Reuters report this week that children of African immigrants in Dallas — little ones with no connection to Thomas Duncan, the Liberian Ebola patient who died Wednesday in a local hospital — have been branded “Ebola kids” simply because of their heritage or skin color.

In both the United States and Europe, Ebola is increasing racial profiling and reviving imagery of the “Dark Continent.” The disease is persistently portrayed as West African, or African, or from countries in a part of the world that is racially black, even though nothing medically differentiates the vulnerability of any race to Ebola.

A Newsweek cover last month showed a picture of a chimpanzee with the headline: “A Back Door for Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark a U.S. Epidemic.” Whatever the intent, the picture was wrong.

Turns out the story was probably wrong, too, as a Washington Post investigation revealed. The new Ebola outbreak “likely had nothing to do with bushmeat consumption,” the Post reported, and there is no conclusive evidence that Ebola has been passed from animals to humans. A theory on animal-to-human transmission with some limited traction centers on dead fruit bats, not chimps…

Working hard to find a non-existent connection between racism and Ebola. Not succeeding. So what if it transmitted by bats and not chimps?

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