Ebola Panic Really Shows How Clueless Folks Are About African Geography

You would think that most people have at least a semi-firm grasp on the idea that Africa is not one small place with a single culture. That something that occurs in one isolated part of Africa does not mean the entire continent (which has 54 countries and thousands of ethnicities and languages) is similarly affected. But of course ignorance prevails.

Schools around the country are freaking out about their students coming into contact with literally anyone and anything that has traveled to Africa in light of the outbreak—even if the person traveled to a place thousands of miles away from the site of the Ebola crisis. As Joaquim Moreira Salles at Think Progress writes, two Rwandan students in New Jersey have been forced to stay home because other parents are afraid their kids will catch Ebola from them. Yep. Two students who have not contracted Ebola and have not even been in the vicinity of the disease have been keep out of school. Rwanda is nearly 3,000 miles from Sierra Leone, one of the three countries affected by the outbreak.

Parents in Hazelhurst, Miss., are keeping their kids home because the principal of a school recently traveled to Zambia, just over 3100 miles away from the Ebola-affected region. For comparison, the distance between London and New York is just over 3,400 miles.

Salles points out three other instances of schools being overly cautious about members of their communities including students and bus drivers who have traveled or are planning to travel to the continent—in places that are nowhere near Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia.

It’s pretty disheartening that the figures of authority who are making such ignorant decisions are responsible for the education of children. As a way to do my part/a coping mechanism, I am putting together a PowerPoint slide show for the parents and schools currently titled, “Africa: More Than Just Ebola and That Toto Song, Ya Dummies.”

Image via Getty.

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