I've been thinking about the media coverage of Ebola and the fear that has come up about traveling to "Africa" or being around Africans in the diaspora, as well as the fear about Ebola now being in the U.S. Even though Ebola isn't an issue in Kenya (and in other countries in Africa). I realize that Africa and Africans generally get lumped together even though Africa is indeed a huge continent and within every country there is so much variety and diversity. Many of us haven't even been to all parts of our countries (let alone the other countries in Africa) because they are huge!
Additionally, because of the impact of colonization, racism, slavery, misinformation, negative and stereotyped images of Africa and Africans, anything affecting any part of the continent (or any one part of a country) has effects on everyone and every place on the continent. So in many ways, the outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia impacts all Africans whether in perception or economics (e.g. limited tourism and travel to Africa - see the article I posted on October 10th on Facebook about what some tour companies are experiencing in Kenya even if they are about 5000 miles away from the three badly affected countries).
I also want to acknowledge how horrible the loss of life is and how our concern should be on helping the people most affected by this disease. Please read the following article that does a great job of talking about Ebola: Misunderstanding the Ebola Crisis Is Worse Than Ignoring It. The article is on Africa Is a Country Website which you can add on your list of necessary sites to visit! You can also read about how Nigeria successfully beat the Ebola Virus.
So here are five steps to take:
1. Learn more about Ebola from reliable sources so that you know how the disease is spread if you are worried
2. Help people in the most affected countries - donations to any credible sites can help if you are far away
3. Critically assess our own fears and worries about the disease
4. If you plan on traveling anywhere in Africa please do so and remember that Africa is the second largest continent in the world and has 54 countries! Most Africans and foreigners traveling and living on the continent do not have Ebola! We are fine and doing well and want to help our fellow human beings who are suffering, shunned and feared. Don't let fear stop you from seeing a part of the world you want to see. Just learn more and educate friends and family.
5. Challenge the racist perceptions that you hear and share photos, stories and images of your experiences in Africa.