Don't Worry, I Am Liberian And I Don't Have Ebola

-A +A

Nvaseki Konneh: Ebola-free like the millions of other Liberians, West Africans, and Africans in general

Ebola stigmatization is real. I too have experienced it.

The first was on the Arik Airline flight from Lagos to New York on August 20, 2014 while returning from Liberia.

I sat with this old man from Lagos, Nigeria. We did not say anything to one another until 45 minutes to our arrival in New York. I struck a conversation with him. He said he is a Nigerian but resides in New Jersey and he's a pastor of a church there.

When I told him I am a Liberian returning to the U.S., he got up and said he was going to the bathroom. I did not see him again until we were disembarking.

(There have also been reports of Africans who are not even from any of the affected countries losing their jobs, being barred from schools, and of young students being physical beaten by class mates or verbally abused).

Fast forward to a week ago. At a training sessions for a new job here in Philadelphia, I was told to use the desk and computer of a co-worker who did not come to work that day. The next morning she came and I was told to share her desk and computer since it was training section. When she asked where I was from, I told her Liberia. Her facial expression changed. She moved to sit with another person.

Then I was assigned my own desk later on that day. She brought wipes to wipe her desk and computer and said, "I know someone will feel bad but I have to protect myself."

The next day when I came, I brought a note with the message, "I know how you feel about me because I am a Liberian. But don't worry about me because I don't have Ebola."

Since then, the stigmatization has gone away. She stops at my desk now to chat with me, even bringing me news today that she read in the newspaper about an African woman who was misdiagnosed of Ebola and was quarantined, only to come find out she had not even been to Africa in recent time.

My coworker now believes that "stigmatization is ignorant and wrong."


Nvasekie N. Konneh is a Liberian poet and writer and veteran of the US Navy. He’s the author of “Going to War for America” and "The Land off My Father's Birth," a memoir of the Liberian civil war. He can be reached at or (267) 206-8909.

Please send your Ebola stigmatization encounters and stories to for publication



Also Check Out...

The small business community has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and this is our latest commitment to ensure that small bus
COVID-19: NYC Small Business
The remarkable advancement of Blacks to master the game’s most important position proves those who thought they lacked the leade
The New Normal in Football: Black
This is not a decision to be made lightly, but Council Member King has given us no alternative.
NYC Council Speaker agrees with
“People who signed contracts with Vision were saddled with all the repairs, upkeep, insurance and taxes – all the responsibiliti
Lawsuit filed against company
 "What was presented [to jurors] is not being publicly disclosed."
Breonna Taylor grand juror
an estimated $88.6 billion, which is equivalent to 3.7% of Africa’s GDP, leaves the continent in the form of illicit capital
UN: Illicit capital robbing Africa