How often have we heard of discrimination against foreign races in the US? I bet quite often. Not to mention the recent protests supporting black lives in America after the infamous prosecution of George Floyd on unreasonable grounds. In no way was the action justified, however, I will do you a favour and enhance your vocabulary. The word ‘Xenophobia’ is the word that defines such behaviour towards anything foreign. It refers to the fear or hatred of someone who is not like you, basically foreign people.
Xenophobia was named Word of the Year by dictionary.com in 2016. Being Word of the Year in 2020 would make greater sense ironically. This phenomenon is what drives racism in countries like America and South Africa. This article largely narrates incidents specific to America since Xenophobia is most prevalent in that country. The first question that arises is why it is still existent in the present world which is driven by globalization. Surprisingly, the governments have unconsciously been propagating its cause for decades.
Government policies tend to force minorities or immigrants into specific careers that are exclusive to that community. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, USA shows clear segregation of certain jobs in the country in accordance with the race. 95% of veterinarians in the country are white people. Looking at the other side, jobs like drivers, security, and delivery are performed by Afro Americans. Unsurprisingly, 40% barbers of America are black. Asians dominate the personal appearance field which includes grooming, and contrastingly, software and tech jobs. I guess the pattern is fairly obvious. Low paying or daily wages jobs have been accredited to immigrants. This automatically places the immigrants on a lower economic pedestal and serves as a befitting reason to repress the communities further.
Since time immemorial, politicians have used non-national discriminatory behaviour to gather support from the majority. Donald Trump’s 2016 regime has been the flag bearer of the same. According to a law in the state of Arizona, a police officer is required to enquire the immigration status of someone if there is any suspicion about their illegal migration to the country. In other words, it allows the police to discriminate against minorities solely based on their appearance. Now, if you find an officer calling out a non-white person in the crowd in Arizona to inspect, don’t blame the officer. Rules are rules, my friend.
A similar phenomenon has occurred in South Africa in 2008 & 2015. It always starts with the citizens arousing at their sub-par economic and living conditions on account of chronically high unemployment, high crime rates, and poor public services. The government successfully deflects the blame to foreign nationals who are looked at as competitors for the limited available opportunities. Hence the elaborate mob attacks against the foreign nationals in South Africa.
The reason why these incidents have been aggravating is ignorance. The authorities have failed to accept the existence of Xenophobia. The fact that crimes against non-nationals are often motivated by xenophobia should be recognized as an important element in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. The prosecutors need to be held accountable for their actions to promote inclusivity and cohesion.
Xenophobia has often been misconstrued as patriotism or nationalism. Mind you, there is not even a fine line between these two. There is a huge, thick, fairly visible line that differentiates the two. No amount of love for one’s nation accounts for violence against the outsiders. We see governments around the world devising policies to uplift their nation’s economy at the cost of immigrants’ livelihood. Economists and governments should have been warier of the consequences of globalization.
Another argument that tries to justify Xenophobia is that this phobia is a part of human nature. Humans tend to react differently to foreign or new things. But aren’t we all the same beings after all? What is so foreign about the other person that makes one react weirdly? Science has failed in answering this. But that is probably because the answer lies within us.
Words are the basis of Xenophobia. On a personal level, we need to realize how powerful words can be. They sometimes inflict irreparable psychic wounds. We need to learn to be careful with them. To combat Xenophobia, there is a need to do more than just watching our tongue. We need to learn to stand up for the victims of the same. Correct your friend when they make xenophobic comments. Do not overlook the thousands of apathetic, yet hurtful words spoken by people around you. It would not be late before they get incorporated into casual conversations or stand up gigs as jokes.
This gives birth to racism and many other metaphorical weeds growing in our society. Homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, and ageism are all shoots of the same plant. Educate yourself, empathize with the victims and stand up for what is right. These are the ingredients to become a righteous member of the society. The change we aspire does not come without fierce opposition. Stay true to your cause and we can make the world a better place.
Refer to other articles in the series: