Ebola, Cholera: The Epidemiology of Anti-Blackness

The ravages of Ebola in West Africa and of cholera in Haiti – and the world’s response to both – remind us that the scourge of anti-Blackness is savage, deadly, and global. The response to the two epidemics suggests that Black people are expendable, unprotected from the most abject and degrading forms of suffering, immaterial – waste. And they raise the question: how do we begin to build a movement claiming Black lives matter when, clearly, they do not?

The United Nations brought cholera to Haiti in the fall of 2010. The cholera bacteria was present in the fecal matter of Nepalese soldiers who were stationed in the country as part of MINUSTAH, the United Nations force that has militarily occupied the republic since 2004. When the soldier’s shit was pumped from the MINUSTAH camp into the rivers of the Artibonite Valley in central Haiti, the bacteria quickly spread unchecked. To date, cholera has killed close to 9,000 people, and sickened more than 700,000.

For Haitians, cholera’s degrading symptoms – uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea – reinforce the humiliation and indignity suffered at the hands of foreigners. So too does the international response to the epidemic. Despite reams of scientific evidence proving the source of the bacteria, the UN has refused to accept responsibility for the epidemic and its consequences. Their initial actions of literally shitting on Haiti and Haitians by callously dumping toxic matter into water that served as a source for drinking, bathing, and irrigation for thousands of Haitians, was shrugged off.

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Authors Dr. Hudson and Dr. Pierre teach in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
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One comment
  1. Vana

    All over the world, black lives are cheapened, disregarded, and dismissed. The Ebola epidemic will not be addressed until white people are personally affected by it.

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