Ebola virus jokes perpetuate racism

Nia Shuler, Contributing Writer

The ebola virus has caught some frightening publicity over the past few months since its first appearance in America on Sept. 30, of this year. Shortly after making its debut, it persisted to throw most of America into a panic by Oct. 8, 2014, when Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person ever recorded, died in America from the Ebola virus.

Ebola has been taking lives in Africa since the 70’s and no one has ever lifted a finger to help. Now, all of a sudden because it is an international issue, everyone wants to run for cover and quarantine citizens.

While there is so much wrong with this situation, the most disturbing to me is how this virus is being portrayed online and the idea that now all of these racist comments are suddenly justified. NEWSFLASH: it’s not.

The Ebola virus is serious and while I’m not suggesting everyone lock their windows and monopolize the Lysol industry, I think that creating memes to demote the magnitude of the ebola virus is counteractive and disrespectful. Neither do I find this an appropriate time from all bigots and racist morons to come out of hiding.

The Ebola virus is contracted by infected fluids entering the body through the mouth, ears, nose, etc. Once the virus is in the blood stream it invades the cells and replicates itself, creating an army of pathogens that wreak havoc in the body. Once the Ebola virus is replicated, it erupts from the cell, causing internal bleeding that leaks from the blood vessels. While doing this, the virus goes on to attack your white blood cells, the body’s soldier in charge to sounding the alarm that would force the body’s defense system into action, then move on to vital organs to inflict damage there. Does this seem like a game to you?

I personally don’t find it funny at all. People are dying and the crazy thing is: one person in America dies from Ebola a month ago and now all of this time and money is going into its cure. Thousands of West African citizens have been struggling with this virus for over four decades; no one cared to lend a hand, no one cared to find a cure, and Africa’s lack of resources and expertise left them defenseless for years. Yet when an American contracts the virus, it’s a different ball game.

What may be worse than the careless memes and this selfish nation is the interpreted free-pass it gives for people to make racist comments toward the people initially suffering from ebola. Because the virus was first contracted in Africa, people seem to think that its okay to say anything about Ebola without consequences. I have seen things surroundign the idea that thsi is God trying to fix a mistake from Africa and that Africans should be grateful for the Ebola virus because it prevents starvation. These are then passed off as jokes in order to make saying them somehow admissible. In case you missed it the first time, it’s not cute.

A racist comment is a racist comment and no matter how much you try to dress it and call it a joke, it is still a racist comment. No one is fooled.

I don’t see any popular memes making fun of cancer. Why? Because maybe your aunt has cancer, or maybe your father, or grandparent. You’re not laughing?

When it’s close to home, it’s not that funny anymore, is it? Some say that because cancer affects white people just as much as it affects black, all of a sudden it’s not a laughing matter. I personally, don’t know what to say about that observation.

However, I can say that just like cancer, Ebola is killing people and anything that it costing human lives should not be the funniest thing trending on Facebook; it should not be the butt of everyone’s joke. Ebola is serious and should be treated like a serious a virus because honestly, Ebola doesn’t care if you’re white, black, brown, cream, orange, or peanut butter flavored; it’s out to kill.