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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Opinion

Racist Ukraine coverage in media is unacceptable


Ukraine

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

One of the main topics of news coverage recently has been the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While various news outlets report on Ukraine, many media figures have unfortunately turned to unacceptable racist rhetoric.

Western journalists have been especially guilty of this. A CBS News senior foreign correspondent said on-air that Ukraine’s situation was unique from the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan which have had “conflict raging for decades.”

This rhetoric sends a harmful message that Middle Eastern conflict doesn’t matter as much as European conflict since it, supposedly, happens there more often. 

This correspondent also mentioned Ukraine was a “relatively European country” and “civilized.” This implies that Iraq, Afghanistan and other non-European countries are uncivilized. This is blatant white supremacy. 

There are many other examples of news correspondents saying Ukraine is somehow different than countries that are primarily non-white. One correspondent in an attempt to sympathize said Ukrainians “look like any European family that you would live next door to.” 

Once again, people are making a racist argument that the public should care about Ukraine, specifically due to the population being white.

It is also important to note that many affected by the invasion of Ukraine are not white. 

Many African students in Ukraine have spoken up about how they’ve been turned away from trains and buses while fleeing the country. Ukrainian soldiers have used guns to threaten Black people who just want to make it to safety. Arab and South Asian people have reportedly had similar experiences.

If people only express support for Ukraine because of its largely white population as these journalists have, then they ignore all the people of color suffering from this invasion who have also been denied the same access to safety given to white Ukrainians.

Additionally, it is just downright racist to feel more sympathy for Ukrainians just because they are white. 

This racist rhetoric is unacceptable, especially from journalists who many people expect to get accurate and largely unbiased information from. It, unfortunately, doesn’t stop with the media as people in the U.S. government gave similar comments. 

One senior policy adviser to congress tweeted that he cannot think of any other time in history that people have fought back against their aggressors like this. This statement’s blatant ignorance of history is racist in and of itself. It only takes a couple of google searches to learn about other groups fighting oppression.

There is the Haitian Revolution where Haitian slaves fought against the French. The Algerian War where Algerians fought against French colonization. There was also the First Indochina War where the people of Vietnam and other Southeast Asian groups fought against the French as well. 

People have fought back against oppression throughout world history. This is not limited to majority-white countries. To imply otherwise erases history. 

The fight for freedom and autonomy is not unique to Europe. People should not forget other groups’ fights against imperialism, many of them led by non-European people of color. 

Overall, western media has sympathy for Ukraine and has been centered around the country being white and European, which is racist as well as wrong. 

Support and sympathy should be shown to Ukraine because its people are having to flee their homes or risk their lives fighting, not because they’re white. Oppressed people fighting against imperialism should be supported, whether they are European or not. 

Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]

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