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Transcript of Liberia
Liberians in MN
The US established diplomatic relations with Liberia in 1864 following its independence from the American Colonization Society (an organization that resettled free African-Americans and freed slaves in Liberia)
“Temporary Protective Status (TPS)” to live in the United States because of the civil war in Liberia that began in 1989
2007, President George W. Bush directed the secretary of Homeland Security to take instability and unrest into consideration and defer enforced deportation for 18 months — until March 31, 2009. Living in the United States as temporary residents
“Deferred Enforced Departure” (DED)
President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing roughly 3,600 Liberians living in the United States under temporary protected status to stay in the country for an additional 12 months.
[most recent 18 month extension began March 2013]
Minnesota is home to about 17 percent of the United States' Liberian population, the largest in the country, (Susan Brower, MN State Demographer). Census Bureau estimates between 6,000 and 10,000 people with Liberian ancestry in the state (data gathered 2010 - 2012)
Conflict and instability
1800’s - freed American slaves, or Americo-Liberians began to settle the area, politically and economically overpowering the 16 indigenous ethnic groups in the area.
1980 - Americo-Liberians were overthrown, initiating two civil wars. A coup led by Samuel Doe took control of the government (Doe’s government was brutal and used military force to repress the people).
1989 - Doe was overthrown by Charles Taylor. (Anyone suspected of loyalty to Doe was killed).
1989 to 2003 - 14 years of civil war in Liberia
2005 - Peace was declared with democratic elections yet Liberians say the political and economic situation in Liberia continues to be fragile.
2014 - 672 people killed by the Ebola in West Africa
Africa's oldest republic
Founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves
Population: 4.2 million (UN, 2012)
Area: 99,067 sq km (38,250 sq miles)
Languages: English, 29 African languages
Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 56 years (men), 59 years (women)
Main exports: Diamonds, iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa
GNI per capita: US $330 (World Bank, 2011)
History, Art and Culture
Art (and healing)
"Looking at Arms into Art the majority of people remains thoughtfully silent. This moment of silence acts like a flashback, a remembering of the war and ... is also an indicator for me that there is a long psychological work to do on the war issue. There is still a lot of digestion on that and I hope somehow I'm part of that."
“make my story travel with you.”
Women are Heroes
Traditional art consisted of various secular and religious pieces
(i.e. masks of diverse sizes and cultural significance). Commissioned by the Poro and Sande societies for use in their initiation rituals.
Carving, painting, pottery, and weaving are well-established crafts practiced by the peoples of Liberia
Items produced included metal ornaments, such as bracelets, rings, medallions, and chain necklaces; figurines for ritual and prestige purposes; decorated utensils, such as knives, bowls, spoons, and cups; and weapons.
Positive ethnic identity
Relationships: Community/Family (nuclear and extended)
Flexible family roles
Spirituality: beliefs and practices
...contain historical data and express community
Minnesotan Liberian artist Catherine Kennedy
The Baggage We Carry
"A vibe of sincerity, conviction and sense of purpose simmers in the air as they stand for what they believe. These women evoked for me a sense of sustaining personal worth belonging to a group of tribal women with a common thread… they share language barriers, illiteracy, culture shock, post traumatic stress… and they are able to be joyful about it."
"Even lives that have been marked with immense pain and trauma can find new hope, beauty and love in the right community."
Music and dance
in Providing Health Care
"Seeing this tree reminds Liberians that the war has ended and never should we return to war..."
Stories are powerful and healing...
They do not exist in a vacuum.
Stories are told.
They exist in relationship.
not debilitated by the past or held captive by memories and/or emotions.
Simultaneously coping with past and present.
Intersecting processes, each influence the other.
The need to resolve both “loss” (difficulties from past) and “load” (stress of adapting to a new environment) Lee and Lu’s (1989)
Physical symptoms can be somatization of psychological struggles - culturally more acceptable to report physical symptoms than emotional ones due to taboos around mental illness.
Combine emotionally therapeutic activities with activities that address practical concerns (such as filling out job applications, or arranging an appointment with an immigration agency.
Community pressure to prioritize helping those remaining in Africa (before meeting own needs). Consider reasons - perhaps, help sent to Africa as a way of dealing with personal emotional trauma. Support putting their trust/responsibility in a spiritual context, examine how to release "obligations" and give them over to their higher power.
Trauma indicated by fears about returning to Liberia or fears for family members remaining in countries outside of Liberia. Experiences in US may may trigger memories of the war, perhaps providing clues as to level of traumatic stress.
Use of metaphor
Identify family phrases or important Biblical stories
Implement community -
nuclear or extended (support of teachers, pastors, etc.)
Disappointment/Surprise of US experience
Recurring and frequent displacement (concerns for stability and of safety)
Visceral aspects of displacement
Isolation/Self-sufficiency/Fear of being alone
Cultural maintenance: Maintain an “African” or “Liberian” identity
Adjustment process: Economic, Emotional, Social
Trauma process (Multi-dimensional- Human rights violations, dispossession and eviction, life threat, and traumatic loss)
Depression, PTSD (undiagnosed both war victims and aggressors), and anxiety disorders
Multi-cultural Art Therapy Considerations
Use of celebration
Explore themes of peace, power,
gratitude and reconciliation