Ebola’s Stigma Felt by Liberian-Americans

By Abigail Ony Nwaohuocha

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City and many of them have felt the ripple effects of Ebola, the disease that has crippled West Africa. The imminent threat of death may not be present here, but Liberians on these shores say they have been stigmatized and isolated.

A group of Liberian Americans even started a campaign  to help people in their community navigate the discrimination and isolation Liberians abroad have experienced since the Ebola outbreak. #IAmALiberianNotAVirus.

It hasn’t been easy for many of them. Krystal Metri, a Liberian–American, has a special connection with her country of origin. Although born in America, she dreamed of living and working in Liberia. She did return and came back to the United States for a short interval to complete her studies for a master’s degree.  She is unsure of when and if she will return. But in the meanwhile, she is frustrated by the response of Americans towards her and her community because of Ebola.

“It angers me beyond reason when people are fearful of me or others because they’re Liberian,” says Metri. “No country asks for a life threatening epidemic to cripple their economy and to keep their kids out of school for over a year and have investments flee. Why would anybody want that?”,

“It’s really, really cruel,” she says.

Metri arrived in Manhattan last year and finds herself forced to reconsider her future. Will she stay or return back home after completing her studies? We see the impact of Ebola through her eyes.

Ebola’s Stigma Felt by Liberian-Americans from NY CITY Lens on Vimeo.