In the past three decades the Liberian diaspora community has changed from a relatively small community of students and business people to a large and diverse community reflecting the economic, social, ethnic, and political diversity of the Liberian nation. That change was a direct result of the Liberian civil wars, which forced political rivals, different social and economic classes, opposing rebel factions, and victims and perpetrators of war crimes all to seek refuge in the same communities in the U.S. Issues arising out of the Liberian diaspora’s conflict experiences continue to threaten community cohesion and local integration. While the conflict in Liberia has ended, the transition to meaningful and fulfilling life in the US is, for many Liberians and for the community as a whole, far from complete.
Through its work with the truth commission process in Liberia, The Advocates documented a consistent theme that was expressed by Liberians from all walks of life: in order for community reconciliation to occur Liberians need to begin to identify with the greater Liberian community rather than their tribal sub-groups. A statement giver from Minnesota summarized this sentiment when he said “Liberians should see themselves as Liberians first, not as divided tribe members with long-standing resentments or hostilities towards other groups.” Another suggested that tribal reconciliation must be a priority in the diaspora, noting that “Liberian tribal groups in the United States should meet together … and discuss doing projects together that would contribute to rebuilding the country.” In response to these sentiments, The Advocates is now engaging with members of the Liberian Diaspora to promote community reconciliation and the unification of Liberians across ethnic, political, and social divisions.
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