In a world where children are taught to stay true to themselves and their uniqueness should be celebrated, it can be pretty shocking to see how our differences are the root of much dissent.
Xenophobia is just one such example.
According to Medical News Today, xenophobia “is dislike, hatred, or fear of outsiders. This can manifest as hostility toward immigrants and hatred toward members of another tribe, culture, or religion.” This means that you are discriminated against for being who you are. We all have a right to practice our religion, traditions, and anything we cherish about our cultures, but sadly, not everyone thinks the same.
The impact of xenophobia on mental health
While you may try to convince yourself that others’ hatred and negativity do not impact you, the reality is that they can profoundly affect you. Imagine being attacked for simply existing, made to feel inferior because you are not “equals”? This can ultimately impact your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence and create fear of your own identity.
I, for one, experienced my fair share of xenophobia a few years ago. I decided to move to “The South” and quickly realized the fallacy behind the famous phrase “Southern Hospitality.” I was treated as garbage and did not belong in this country — and it was terrible. Seeing people having parties on plantations and how patriotic museums were filled with “treasures” from the Confederacy was mortifying.
The funny thing is that I am first gen and was born in the United States after my parents immigrated. But to them, the fact that I wasn’t “naturally” from here meant I could not identify as even a bit American, even if I were raised here. Even my colleagues’ small children treated me differently. I was marginalized, excluded, and disrespected — diminished to “crappy tacos” and “narco-trafficking.”
A widespread epidemic
Xenophobia doesn’t only affect the Latino community. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was an increase in racism and violence against Asian Americans. This discrimination suggests “increases in anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sleep problems among those targeted.”
And who can blame them? Dealing with these attacks has you constantly on guard, and you feel you cannot leave your life in peace. We are all human beings and should be treated equally, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, amongst other things. Dealing with this prejudice can affect our opportunities, accessibility to resources, and our motivation to prosper. In fact, it has been found that “discrimination could determine a group’s living conditions and life chances, affecting such areas as education, employment, and housing.”
The fact that xenophobia exists shows the deep divide within society and how these toxic ideologies can create rifts passed down from generation to generation.
It is crucial for those affected by xenophobia to stick together and advocate for our rights.