THE Foreign Press Association Africa (FPAA) on Saturday expressed their displeasure and slammed media outlets for using images of blacks alongside stories of the Monkeypox outbreak in North America and the United Kingdom last week.
This past week a handful of cases of Monkeypox were detected in Britain, Portugal, Spain and the US, with cases rising in the latest virus to consume the world.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Monkeypox is a zoonatic disease caused by the Monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.
The virus can occur in any region of the world, regardless of race or ethnicity. The WHO said, as such, it believes that no race or skin complexion should be the face of the disease.
‘It is therefore disturbing for European and North American media outlets to use stock images bearing persons of black and dark and African skin complexion to depict an outbreak of the disease in the United Kingdom and North America,’ the offended FPAA said in a statement reported by the IOL news outlet.
‘Shouldn’t it be logical that if you are talking about the outbreak of Monkeypox in Europe or the Americas you should use images of hospitals across Europe or the Americas? Or in the absence of such use a collection of electronic micrographs with labelled subcellular structures?
‘We condemn the perpetuation of this negative stereotype that assigns calamity to the African race and privilege or immunity to other races.’
The press association asks, what was the convenience of using such images to tell the world how Europe and America are reeling from the outbreak of Monkeypox? ‘Is the media in the business of “preserving white purity” through the “black criminality or culpability”?’
Furthermore, the press association said it finds the use of images to be ‘very insensitive,’ adding that 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.
‘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.’
The Nairobi-based FPAA further urges that editorial managers in news outlets based outside Africa 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 calamities.
‘FPAA offers its readiness to support to media houses seeking to review their editorial policies to reflect correct framing of Africa, people of African descent and people living in Africa,’ it said.