Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

The Media’s Post-Colonial Hangover

Donald Moffett, He Kills Me (installation detail), 1987

I was shocked by a health-news headline I read on Slate this morning.

“HIV Infection Rates Are up for Gays, Drug Users, and Prostitutes”

While this is factually accurate, why do I nonetheless find this representation of HIV/AIDS damaging?

For one, it reinforces perceptions that AIDS is a gay disease (or equally troubling, a disease that infects those who “deserve” it, such as drug users and prostitutes). In the 80’s, when President Reagan could not utter the word “AIDS”–even at the height of the AIDS crisis in the U.S., when 41,000 Americans had died of the disease and 71,000 Americans were infected with HIV–the characterization of the public health crisis to only certain minority groups was shameful.

Twenty years later, the media is still reporting on HIV/AIDSas a disease among “gays, drug users, and prostitutes”. According to a recent United Nations report on the global AIDS epidemic, “Globally, women account for half of all HIV infections—this percentage has remained stable for the past several years. ” Shouldn’t more attention be paid to the surprising fact that women account for more than half of all new infections?

Demystifying stereotypes that AIDS is a gay male disease or a drug addict’s disease or a sex worker’s disease is critical. Articles such as this one from the influential Associated Press reinforce stereotypes rather than look at the big picture of the global AIDS crisis.

Another reason that I find this article particularly damaging is its reification of the West’s superiority over developing nations (or, as we like to mistakenly characterize them, “third world” countries). Sonia Shah has written extensively about this notion in reasoned, articulate analyses of media misrepresentation of non-Western nations.

Shah is also an expert in finding the connections between this Orientalism and corporate interests. In a recent article for Ms. magazine, for example, Shah explains how Microsoft millionaire Nathan Myhrvoid characterizes malaria in African countries “to wrap his business in a cloak of moral urgency.”

“Every 43 seconds a child dies of malaria,” he told the crowd. And current anti-malaria interventions, many of which target the rural African women and children who are malaria’s main victims, don’t work that well, he said.

Important facts. But his reasons for sharing this fact? To buoy his new tech gadget. The corporate officers wonders, How might we solve and uplift these people? Try Myhrvoid’s bug zapper:

A mini-”Star Wars” weapons system that tracks mosquitoes in the air and shoots them down mid-flight–with lasers, of course. Like a Death Ray. All you need to make one is a Blu-ray player and a laser printer, plus a few months of processing time on a supercomputer, and voila!: you’re on your way to eradicating malaria in Africa for good.

Business and colonialism. Who’s got the cure for the post-colonial hangover?

Filed under: africa, colonialism, hiv/aids, , , , , , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Twitter

Error: Please make sure the Twitter account is public.

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors

RSS Recent Posts from Towleroad

  • 30 British Schoolboys Don Skirts to Protest School’s Ban on Shorts: WATCH
    A group of boys at an English high school have taken to wearing skirts in protest of the administration forbidding them from wearing shorts on hot school days. The BBC reported Thursday that about 30 male students at the ISCA Academy in Exeter partic… Read The post 30 British Schoolboys Don Skirts to Protest School’s Ban on Shorts: WATCH appeared first on To […]
  • Adam Lambert’s New Song Reveals What He Doesn’t Give ‘Two Fux’ About: WATCH
    Adam Lambert debuted a new track last night as part of a Queen mini-concert on Jimmy Kimmel live. Lambert is still fronting the band and is about to embark on a North American tour with the group. Writes Idolator: Co-written with Ferras, Sarah Hudson… Read The post Adam Lambert’s New Song Reveals What He Doesn’t Give ‘Two Fux’ About: WATCH appeared first on […]
  • Ricky Martin Spills About His First Gay Role in ‘Versace: American Crime Story’ – WATCH
    Ricky Martin, Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, and Edgar Ramirez sat down with EW to talk about the upcoming Ryan Murphy series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, which doesn’t air until 2018 but is getting so much publicity… Read The post Ricky Martin Spills About His First Gay Role in ‘Versace: American Crime Story’ – WATCH appeared fir […]
  • Kevin Spacey, NYC Pride, Greg Sulkin, Johnny Depp, Laverne Cox, Babadook, California: HOT LINKS
    NYC PRIDE. Towleroad will be running the live broadcast of NYC Pride this Sunday. Please join us to watch. DEPP DENUNCIATION. White House condemns Johnny Depp: “President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its sad that others like Jo… Read The post Kevin Spacey, NYC Pride, Greg Sulkin, Johnny Depp, Laverne Cox, Babadook, California: HOT LINKS appe […]
  • Lawmakers to Annul Convictions of 50,000 Gay Men In Nazi-Era Germany
    German lawmakers have voted to quash the convictions of 50,000 gay men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law. Although the law dates from 1871, it was rarely enforced until the Nazis came to power. In 1935 the law was amended to carry a se… Read The post Lawmakers to Annul Convictions of 50,000 Gay Men In Nazi-Era Germany appeared first on Towlero […]

Polls

RSS Breaking News from The Daily Beast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Pics from Africa 2010

No food for lazy man

Mao and Du Bois

Inside W.E.B. DuBois' library

Commemorating the great pan-African writer

African drumming and dance

More Photos

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

Top Clicks

  • None

Categories