It was December 2001. Senior year at Spring High School—the nucleus of a small town called Spring, Texas, two dozen miles north of Houston. Sixteen years old and like other restless suburbanites, I was over-committed to extracurricular activities, spent an unreasonable amount of time with my friends, and my only real concern was how far I could stretch the $1/gallon gas on my middle-grade car.

On my way to work a part-time sales job at the local Sears, it came on. A smooth sample of Tom Brock’s “There’s Nothing In This World That Can Stop Me From Loving You” over a honeyed beat—the cadence of a classic. It was Jay Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and within the first 30 seconds, I knew I’d hear it at every party for the rest of the school year.

Liberia has become the bio-terrorist of the new modern age, a sort of North Korea with personalized, microscopic nukes. And this state of mind, which holds that Liberians are proliferators of deadly agents, is far more destructive than the EBOLA virus which has lamentably claimed 5,000 lives in three countries. Coupled with our own ignorance and fear in Liberia and the continuing loss of our compatriots, the internationalized STIGMA of our people and country has far reaching and deleterious effects in every sphere of our society and economy. The loathing, suspicion and mistreatment of Liberians gallop into a surreal career of its own, creating a brand, a “STIGMA” which nobody wants.

All that we have known and practiced are being questioned, challenged as part of prevention measures. How can you attempt to change decades, centuries of cultural practices in a few days or weeks? How can you change an entire society’s way of life? Understandably so, we resist some of these changes. In as much as we understand the reasons for the change, we find it hard to embrace it even at the risk of our lives and that of our loved ones.