According to the African Advisory Council, a community organization for African immigrants, two Senegalese boys aged 11 and 13 were beaten at by a gang of fellow students at a public school last Friday. The assault followed weeks of taunting and social ostracism connected to fears and misinformation about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
(Ousame) Drame said his sons have been cruelly harassed for two weeks over Ebola. Days after news broke that the deadly disease was in the United States, he said students, whispering the word, “Ebola,” told other students not to talk to the boys. They were treated like cancers, he said.
“If they go to the gym they don’t want them touching the ball – ‘Oh, you have Ebola, don’t play with us,'” Drame said.
[…] Drame insisted the school system wasn’t doing enough to protect his children and others like them. He called on politicians and educators to spread awareness about the disease — and to step in when necessary.
Calling the attack “unacceptable,” advocates say it is just the latest incidence of disrespect and bullying of Africans since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
Although the school, the parents, and the community are doing what they can, incidents like this should be expected when the most powerful leaders in New York and New Jersey lend credence to unreasoning fear and hysteria in the public by clumsily manipulating quarantine restrictions for health care personnel returning from West Africa. Whether they realize it or not, Governors Cuomo and Christie are giving life to very old and very ugly racist memes about Africa.
The Ebola pandemic already seems to be waning in West Africa, but racist anti-Ebola propaganda is on the rise in Europe as well as the United States, where some of our politicians have endorsed travel bans that would actually make the situation worse.
Although this is the first report of violence, it is hardly the first example of racist Ebola fearmongering in America. A Pennsylvania high school soccer player has already been subjected to onfield verbal abuse over Ebola that led to the resignation of two coaches. Two children who had visited eastern Africa far from the center of the epidemic have also been kept out of a South Jersey school solely because of parental panic. Residents of the Dallas neighborhood of Thomas Duncan, the only person ever to die of Ebola in the United States, have been shunned by restaurants and employers, while their children have suffered from the loss of tutors and been branded as ‘Ebola kids’ at school.