Art by Kai Bovik
Recently our world has seen a lot of tragedies. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, leaving Houston in floods and devastating the city. While this event hurt and affected many beyond the population of Houston, killing 82 at least, and is tragic, it’s important to note that around the same time as Harvey, South Asia endured large Monsoon downpours that caused at least 21 deaths and a dozen trapped under a fallen building in Mumbai.
The coverage on South Asia, specifically India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, was inadequate and could not compare to the amount of coverage a state in the U.S. was getting for a similar environmental tragedy. This coverage, or lack thereof, is from international publications that are supposed to cover news worldwide, but definitely have a bias on what news they share. For example, BBC World, an international news source, had under 10 stories about South Asia’s tragedies, and over 20 about Harvey. With this imbalance of coverage, and over a thousand dead spread throughout South Asia, what are we saying about those lives?
By not covering natural disasters in South Asia, we’re showing that we inherently find some lives worth more than others. American lives are not worth more than South Asian lives. Similarly, no group with privilege is worth more than minority groups. This concept, though not hard to grasp, is violated by our news and media outlets.
When we sit and ask ourselves why some tragedies get more coverage than others it’s simple to understand. Truthfully it’s because of the certain prejudices we, as a society, uphold to make a certain demographic take precedence. We, as a society, almost completely internationally, prioritize American, primarily white, lives. The media is constantly whitewashing the world: advertising skin bleaching or lightening products and favoring white people as a dominant race, giving KKK members a platform to speak on, and Neo-Nazis protection to rally. It is not hard to understand that brown people are not protected and cared for on the same level.
With this being said, the reason South Asian floods didn’t get the same amount of coverage is clear: racism and prejudice. Until we start caring for the lives of minority groups on the same level (and showing that support with media coverage and help),the previous statement will still be true.
Different prejudices result in this. It’s the reason why hate crimes are not taken seriously,, it’s the reason why when certain communities are targeted we decide to turn a blind eye and ignore the issue. One person becoming aware of the issue isn’t enough, everyone becoming aware of the issue isn’t enough. We as a society need to shift how we approach tragedies predominantly minorities and get a balance in our coverage. The South Asia floods is just one very important example of an issue that has been going on for years and years. Changes in media coverage can begin to bring this issue to light.