The meaning of certain context-specific words and their use in everyday life could have quite a heavy connotation. The word “Xenophobia” is a type of terminology that brings a heavy burden with its meaning; that is why using it correctly is so important.
Xenophobia should be used when speaking about anyone from another country and the fear certain people have towards them. The word is also tightly connected to the word racism, its meaning, and how people are impacted.
So when using this word is relevant to thread carefully and express your ideas in a way that you do not offend. Read on, so you make sure you know everything there is know, and the next time you hear it or have to use it, you will do so impartially and adequately.
Where Does the Word “Xenophobia” Come From?
This word comes from the Ancient Greek. The word xenophobia is made up of two words, “xénos,” which means stranger, and “phobos,” which means fear. So, xenophobia is the fear and hatred of strangers and anything foreigner.
Historically, when there is conflict, suspicion, or disagreement between an ingroup (locals) and an outgroup (foreigners), a manifested lack of trust or fear of those people translates to xenophobia. A part of that fear is the loss of national identity, the instauration of a new culture or a new racial identity brought on by the “strangers.”
In simpler terms, this is how xenophobia looks like: I am from the North and you are from the South, you come to the North, and I have never met anyone from the South, I feel scared of what your presence means to my people and me. Due to my lack of knowledge or how set I am in my ways, I could become a xenophobic person, therefore rejecting and fearing all people from the South or anywhere else foreign to me actively.
In addition to fearing, xenophobic people also spread their fear, this being an outstanding aspect of xenophobia. By passing on their fear to others, they make sure that the people they fear have a hard time wherever they go, hoping they would leave. Those who are xenophobic also look to instill fear by aggressively projecting their behavior, making offensive remarks until they cause discomfort on the opposing party.
When this happens is when xenophobia changes from just a concept and becomes a literal, factual thing. It is also when it starts connecting to racism.
The Difference Between Xenophobia and Racism
When we think of racism, we usually focus on skin color and how it can give you advantages if you have a particular skin color or make things more difficult for you if you don’t. However, there is more to know about it. Racism can also be cultural. This means that you might grow into a racist culture or behavior and might be completely unaware of what you are doing.
The essence of racism is those who believe that racial differences give them superiority over others. So, xenophobia doesn’t mean or equal racism, but it is common to see that xenophobic people can be racist and vice-versa.
The word and concept of racism are relatively new, dating back from the 20th century. The word “xenophobia” is a bit older than “racism,” but only by a few decades. These words are so new because it was socially acceptable for a very long time to have servants. These servants were usually people from a darker skin tone and very evident racial differences.
Independently of the connections between these words, in speech or real life, they are both rather unwelcome and uncomfortable terms to use. Regardless of what each means, what we are trying to do here is not to determine which is best; we are learning about what it means, and how to use it, so let’s carry on.
Are There Different Types of Xenophobia?
The answer is yes. There are two primary types of xenophobia:
- Immigrant Xenophobia
- Cultural Xenophobia
The one about the immigrants is what we have been discussing the most here, and in a broader sense, it involves rejecting a particular immigrant group because of their religion. Historically this has caused hostility that could translate to persecution, violence, and in extremes cases, genocide as we have come to learn from the Holocaust in Germany lead by Hitler.
Now, Cultural Xenophobia involves the rejection of the language, symbols, traditions, clothes, and other objects that resemble or represent a different culture. This form of xenophobia is more harmless and often seen in secluded religious groups where their beliefs are more limiting, like the Amish.
How Do We Use “Xenophobia” In A Sentence?
After what we have learned about the word “xenophobia,” we can now begin to use in our speech. Let’s keep in mind that the context in which it is used is of great relevance, also how we express our opinion has to be done tastefully.
In a more technical side of the word “xenophobia,” it is a noun, and as such, when used in a sentence, it will often be the subject of the sentence. It can also be an object depending on where we place it in the sentence as well.
Here are some sentence examples on how to properly use “xenophobia:”
- The only way to overcome xenophobia is to understand we are as much a stranger as the person we fear if we went to their land.
- Refugee communities must come together to help reduce xenophobia in those who fear them by understanding their presence is not a threat.
- When the committee knew the person to fill the post was not a local, there was an outburst of xenophobia among the group’s older members.
- It can be said that xenophobia is part of the legacy of centuries of slavery.
- The existing xenophobia often targets immigrant communities in certain parts of the world.
- There has always been a certain degree of xenophobia among British people since the island is divided between Scotland, England and Wales.
- Xenophobia is never far in certain countries of the world since it is ingrained in their culture as a normal thing.
- With everything going on with the Black Live Matters movement, there are many feelings of xenophobia and racism in the air.
- The media is partly responsible for the increase in xenophobia in the past years.
- Regardless of the source, xenophobia always damages those involved with it one way or another.
- Xenophobia and nationalism were the drivers behind Hitler’s motivation to commit genocide.
- There is nothing nice about racism and xenophobia.
- Certain policies that benefit only a selected few are a clear demonstration of xenophobia in congress.
- The advocates of immigrants have a constant battle against racism and xenophobia.
- If not addressed timely, latent xenophobia could become a full-blown cascading issue for everyone involved.
- Racism and xenophobia can be found together in the same context often. However, their meaning and origin are not the same.
- The chairman played on the xenophobia of the committee to out-vote one of the candidates.
- Openness to other cultures is important to prevent xenophobia and racism to arise.
Something else about using the word “xenophobia” that you can see after reading these examples because of its meaning, it will always be tied to very specific content and topic setting.
About Xenophobia and Mental Health
After everything said here, you must be wondering if xenophobia is connected to Mental Health, and it is safe to say that officially it is not registered as a mental health disorder. However, many specialists, psychologists, and psychiatrists argue that it should be considered a problem when it reaches a certain level and is treated as such.
Some professionals also say that prejudice in certain proportions could be seen as a form of delusion. Initially, this delusional prejudice is just an individualistic way to see something, or having a very strong opinion about something or someone. Nevertheless, prejudice to the level of xenophobia could become pathological if not spoken of, and for some people, it can cause serious disruption of their everyday life. At this point, professional help is needed.
Xenophobic behavior impacts every day life for those who have it in other ways too. They could commit hate crimes and get prosecuted, which would create a criminal record for life. Xenophobic people can become isolated if located in a community where their beliefs impact how they interact with others, especially if they show hostility and if their position influences others’ opportunities in a community and how equality works.
The best way to combat xenophobia is to pay attention to your thoughts and reactions, especially in certain places and surrounded by certain people, particularly if those people are from a different heritage as you. Also, getting in contact with yourself, analyzing the origin of your fears towards certain people, and finding a way to face those fears, put them out in the open, so you grow as a person and gain experience about your boundaries.
As a summary, the word “xenophobia” is intertwined with the word “fear,” and the word “people” when used separately, each of these words are harmless, but if you put them together and they will have a wide array of implications and feelings.
Historically, when humankind fears something, there is a tendency to remove the threat and ask questions later. However, when seen in paper or used in a sentence, “xenophobia” is just another word, as harmless as any.
Now that we have seen the extent of using this word, you will be able to walk the line between properly using it when you talk, sounding knowledgeable, and steering clear from offense or misuse.