Merriam-Webster defines xenophobia as: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

While feeling a little trepidation about people or things which aren’t known to us is understandable, feeling extreme fear or hatred is beyond my comprehension…unless we’re talking about jumping from a bridge with a bungee cord attached to my ankle…that’s the sort of unknown which would instill fear in me for sure. For the purpose of this post however, let’s focus on people.

To feel hatred of someone just because they look, speak, or believe differently than we do has been the cause of so many of the most tragic, atrocious acts in our history…both ancient and recent. Think about the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Salem witch trials, and the genocide at Darfur just to name a few. All of these tragedies occurred due to the type of hatred we’re talking about.

I won’t even try to examine the various so called reasons behind acts such as the ones mentioned, because that would be almost like offering an excuse for something inexcusable. When it comes down to it, there just is no reason. I feel very fortunate to have never felt those sorts of feelings toward others. In some ways, it’s sort of hard to fathom given where I come from…which is a place where there is little to no diversity.

Despite growing up in a place with a lot of xenophobia, I believe that I was able to escape that mindset because there were so many things about me and my family which were different. It wasn’t easy, not that I am complaining, because all of the experiences I’ve had in my life both good and bad have formed me into the person I am today. At the time it was very difficult to be singled out due to those differences and while it was mild comparatively, it was enough to teach me how it felt, and to know that I would not want to inflict those feelings upon anyone else.

How do you feel about this?


18 thoughts on “Xenophobia

  1. Good post! I'm not afraid of differences at all. I grew up in San Francisco and I really never saw people there as different. We were all part of a community. Later I experienced first hand about how people view "different" people. My first born son was a dwarf. I found out, certain cultures view a child like mine as a curse. We couldn't go anywhere, or travel outside our area without people actually pointing, staring and even laughing. I really had to develop a tough skin.

  2. I was lucky to be raised by a dad from South America and my mom was from the city, where every race/religion was intermixed in the neighbourhoods. I didn't really experience much xenophobia in my hometown, then I moved to the liberal SF Bay Area.

  3. I value diversity. Highly. I am most comfortable around a mixture of people. I want to be unique, and I enjoy what makes others unique. I'm not a rebellious non-conformist, but I don't jump on a bandwagon unless I believe in the cause, and I enjoy people too much to sort them into groups of 'us' and 'them' as criteria for friendship.

  4. Thanks Coffee Lady! I can imagine that you did have to grow a thick skin pretty fast in that situation. Sorry that you and your son had to deal with so much ignorance. Whether things make us stronger or not, it's just a shame that we have to experience some of them at all.

  5. I posted on another person's "Xenophobia" post as well this A to Z, and said there what I will say here: I hate xenophobia! But I see a lot of it in the news media and encouraged by government as well, these days. It's really sad.

  6. Great post!I too believe in your opinion. Diversity and differences in people made us what we are, and formed our thoughts. So without differences was the fun! 🙂

  7. I was raised in several places throughout California, and some of the were opposites in this respect. In one place, I was the only white girl in a heavily Hispanic school, in which some of the other kids did not speak English. In another, it was an extremely small farming community, another was a large city with much diversity in which I had friends from all walks of life, and another was a fairly small town with just a little diversity. When I was very young, I didn't even realize there was diversity. I thought of everyone as just another person. I also got good at speaking with my hands and understanding cues without words. All that changes when you grow up, and people start telling you that there are different ethnicities, and that people are different based on race. This is where the trouble is. It's all in the mindset.#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

  8. oh lord, I wish I had thought of this for my "x" post! Duh! I have a variation of this. I'm not necessarily scared of anything foreign, but I get extremely nervous around strangers. I have a student in my youth group, who is only 15, who for sure has this. He makes comments all the time about being fearful of diversity and such. It's disheartening. I try to teach him that we are all human and our duty is to love, respect, and accept one another.

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