Bullies beat African brothers, claim they have Ebola
The only thing scarier than Ebola right now is the rampant ignorance surrounding the virus. Take for example a group of Bronx middle school students who reportedly bullied a pair of brothers who recently returned from Africa, claiming the boys had and were Ebola! Amadou and Pape Drame were attacked and tormented by classmates at IS 318 in the Bronx Friday. However, tension between the boys and their classmates had reportedly been boiling for weeks. Since moving to the Tremont section for the Bronx from Senegal about a month ago, the boys were reportedly tormented by students who would accuse them of being either infected with or being the very embodiment of Ebola. Ay, bendito.
13-year-old Pape and 11-year-old Amidou's classmates wouldn't even let the boys play with them at the gym. "The go to gym, and they say, 'You don't touch the ball, you have Ebola, and if you touch it we all get Ebola,'" explained their father, Ousmane Drame. Things came to a head Friday during lunch. According to a police source, a fight broke out after Amidou sneezed and a student shouted "Ebola! You're Ebola!" Other kids soon joined in, yelling "Ebola Ebola get out of here," before shoving him to the ground, where he was continuingly punched and kicked. His brother Pape heard the fracas, and came to help him, but to no avail. "The other kids jumped on him also and started beating on him as well," explains Charles Cooper, president of the African Advisory Council of the Bronx. "The school tried to say it was a fight. We made it very clear to them, this was not a fight. This is assault. This is bullying." This is also not very surprising.
I knew it would only be a matter of time before Americans were feverish with Ebola-related ignorance. After all, ignorance and misinformation spread in the country faster than any disease or virus out there. And like most viruses, such things are easily spread among children and teens. But that doesn't mean adults are exempt. The antidote to intolerance and ignorance is information, and it's up to us grown folks to arm ourselves with it, then spread the wealth.
The school district needs to make a pointed effort to gather parents and students and provide them with information regarding Ebola. But more than that, they need to let them know that such incidents--Ebola-related or not--are not to be tolerated. If you see someone behaving ignorantly or spreading droplets of hate, say something. Correct them, or at the very least remove yourself and your children from the vicinity, effectively putting creating a social quarantine. Because honestly, there is nothing more dangerous than rampant ignorance.
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