10 Ways ebola has changed the daily behavior of Latinas
I believe that Latinas have a different perspective from las gringas on the ebola situation. First, we come from a culture that tends to accentuate (exaggerate) situations like this one. In other words, ¡nos pasamos películas o novelas! Second, most Latinas are deeply influenced by religious messages that Dios is trying to send us. Third, there is a higher probability that Latinas work in hospitality, healthcare, transportation, food and other public sectors that are susceptible to exposure to diseases like ebola. So, I've been "listening" to the conversations that Latinas are having on mamaslatinas.com and Facebook and here's a list of ways that ebola is changing our daily routines.
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1. Abuela was right about those religious prophecies! Many swear that Ebola is the killer disease that the Nostradamus prophecies referenced.
2. Latinas tend to gravitate to sensational news stories: Ebola news and the cast of characters who are being affected is now a part of our news fix. We need to do keep up with these stories on a daily basis and perhaps multiple times a day!
3. We're "profiling" people who we meet: Are they from West Africa or have they visited these countries? We're closely monitoring the behavior of those seated next to on the bus, subway or plane. I found myself profiling a woman at the airport working security because of her excessive sweating!
4. Obsessive about washing and disinfecting our hands: My airport cab driver (who was from Nigeria) had Lysol spray, Clorox wipes and a gel hand sanitizer to protect him from passengers possibly contaminated. Everyone's talking about their excessive hand washing! I've heard of young women who are wiping the workout machines at the Gym before and during use.
5. Less touching and even shunning: Like most Latinas, I am very touchy-feely. Some people claim that they're no longer hugging, shaking hands or kissing. I've also read stories about people being shunned by others in places like Chicago and Omaha because they visited family in West Africa, even though they didn't exhibit any symptoms of the disease.
6. Fear of hanging at public places: Although the CDC has assured us that you can't contract Ebola by "sharing airspace," some people are avoiding certain subway lines, bowling alleys and travelling in general.
7. Redefining "fluids" and symptoms of the common cold: Last week spit landed in my mouth and for a split second I thought "if she were contagious with Ebola, I would've gotten it!" Excessive coughing or sneezing on a plane has everyone on edge.
8. Turning heroes into villains: This is the area that touches my soul! Our unfounded fears are turning healthcare workers who have cared for Ebola patients into villains! They're being stigmatized and shunned as opposed to celebrated. Government officials get reprimanded for being overly-cautious and depriving people of their basic human rights with mandatory quarantines, or not cautious enough.
9. Learning about a whole set of new terms: Did you know that the word Hazmat is derived from "Hazardous Materials"? Beyond learning about more medical and other terminology than I need to know, I've also become quite the expert on all things Ebola.
10. Less faith in government and CDC: Although this situation (as well as Isis) has shaken everyone's foundation and it has made us question the American system, I do feel lucky to live in the U.S. Imagine what could happen if Ebola-stricken people travelled to a Latin American country? God help us!
Image via Corbis