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Monday, July 4, 2022

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MonkeyPox opens up racial wounds

High school student Julian Glenn, at home Tuesday, June 10, 2003, in Warrenville, Ill., is believed to have contracted the monkeypox virus from his pet prairie dog, John. Glenn\'s doctors are convinced he has the virus, but his condition remains unconfirmed until they receive a determination from the CDC. Prairie dogs are now the top suspects in the Western Hemisphere\'s first incidence of the disease. (AP Photo/(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, Tanit Jarusan)

High school student Julian Glenn, at home Tuesday, June 10, 2003, in Warrenville, Ill., is believed to have contracted the monkeypox virus from his pet prairie dog, John. Glenn\'s doctors are convinced he has the virus, but his condition remains unconfirmed until they receive a determination from the CDC. Prairie dogs are now the top suspects in the Western Hemisphere\'s first incidence of the disease. (AP Photo/(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, Tanit Jarusan)

Published May 22, 2022

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By: Siyabonga Sithole

With the World Health Organisation(WHO) investigating more than 80 cases of Monkeypox outbreak in Europe (UK, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and France), as well as in Australia, Africans are up in arms over the media's use of Black people as the face of the disease.

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Scores of social media users and civic organizations have come out against the racist misrepresentation of black people and Africans in particular as the carriers of monkeypox when this outbreak is happening outside the African continent.

According to the UK's National Health Services, Monkeypox is a viral infection which is mild in nature as people affected by it usually recover in a matter of weeks.

Reacting to the discriminatory nature of news media' use of Africans in their imagery is the Foreign Press Association(FPA) Africa, which condemned the use of black bodies to depict calamity while the current outbreak does not involve Africa or its citizens.

“The Foreign Press Association, Africa registers its displeasure against media outlets using images of black people alongside stories of the Monkeypox outbreak in North America and the United Kingdom.

“It is therefore disturbing for European and North American media outlets to use stock images bearing persons with dark/black and African skin complexion to depict an outbreak of a disease in the United Kingdom and North America,” the organisation says in the statement.

The association further stated that it condemns this practice by the media outlets as it continues to paint a negative picture and stereotype which assigns calamity to African bodies and privilege to other races.

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The Foreign Press Association, Africa is not the only one condemning international media outlets for its discriminatory depiction of Africans as carriers of diseases and outbreaks. Scores of social media users from across the globe are voicing the same displeasure.

A Twitter user by the name of Edward Wayonyi said using pictures of African people should not be tolerated. “It is not Okay and it will never be okay…we do not use pictures of pictures of American police to represent police brutality in Africa. We cannot use black skin complexion to represent an outbreak in the U.S and UK, “ he said.

Award-winning Zimbabwean filmmaker and novelist, Tsitsi Dangarenga tweeted: “ Now leaving the people out, so as far as people are concerned, black people are still associated with the virus. Couldn't they get permission to take pictures of infected Caucasian people?,” she asked.

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According to the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NCID) Monkeypox is caused by infection with monkeypox virus, a member of the genus Orthopoxvirus in the family of Poxviridae Variola virus ( cause of smallpox) and Vaccinia virus ( used in smallpox vaccine).

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