African press blasts use of black people images in monkeypox coverage
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with Massachusetts health officials on an investigation into a case of monkeypox. (Photo via BBC)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Foreign Press Association of Africa is blasting media organisations that continue to use images of black people in stories about the outbreak of monkeypox in Europe and North America.

The Association has registered its displeasure against such media outlets, arguing that their continued use of images bearing persons with dark/black skin and African skin shows prejudice.

In a statement Monday, the Association noted that the World Health Organisation has described monkeypox as a zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus genus in the family of poxviridae.

“As any other disease, it can occur in any region in the world and afflict anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity. As such, we believe that no race or skin complexion should be the face of this disease,” it stated.

The Association said it finds it disturbing for European and North American media outlets to use stock images bearing people with dark/black and African skin complexion to depict an outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom and North America.

“Shouldn’t it be logical that if you are talking about the outbreak of monkeypox in Europe or the Americas, you should use images from hospitals across Europe or the Americas? Or in the absence of such, use a collection of electron micrographs with labelled subcellular structures?” it further stated.

“We condemn the perpetuation of this negative stereotype that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege or immunity to other races,” it added.

And it also questioned the convenience of using such images to tell the world how Europe and America are reeling from the outbreak of monkeypox.

The Association questioned whether the media are in the business of preserving white purity through black criminality or culpability and said it finds these actions to be very insensitive.

“It is glaring in the lack of dignity afforded to black and brown-skinned victims of disease outbreaks. It is a lack of nuance and empathy given to people suffering from this disease,” it said.

It argued that at a time when the world is forging alliances against systemic racism and racial stereotypes, the media should be at the forefront of shaping positive images and narratives.

Is urging the editorial managers of the offending media outlets to update their image policies and censure their staff from the allure of using images of Africans, people of African descent or people living in Africa to depict outbreaks of diseases or any calamities.

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