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Xenophobia and racism are closely related terms, and sometimes we use them interchangeably. However, they mean different things and can manifest in different ways. 

Xenophobia Meaning

Going back to the root of the word, we find that its direct meaning is the “Fear of strangers.” It can also be interpreted as the fear of the “foreigner.” While it can be seen as fear, it manifests as hatred in some cases. The “foreigner” will most likely be outcasted, discriminated against, deemed inferior, and categorized as the “other.”

Types of Xenophobia

Xenophobia can be implicit or explicit, and there are two types of xenophobia; the xenophobia of immigrants and the xenophobia of culture.

1- Immigrant Xenophobia: the dislike or fear of people who are, or who are perceived to be, immigrants. Anti-immigration policies are a manifestation of this type of Xenophobia.

2- Cultural xenophobia: dislike or hostility toward different cultures. Assuming that products, foods, or movies from other cultures are inferior to one’s own is an example of this.

Differences Between Xenophobia and Racism 

Xenophobia and racism are closely related terms, and sometimes we use them interchangeably. However, they mean different things and can manifest in different ways. 

Xenophobia specifically relates to a person or group having an “outsider” status within a society. Racism relates explicitly to race or ethnicity, whether the person or group has “outsider” status or not. These two forms of prejudice can occur separately or together.

Signs of Xenophobia

There is a set of clear signs of xenophobia that can appear on a person or institution. People may have xenophobic views if they:

  • Express distrust or disgust toward perceived outsiders
  • Express distrust or disgust toward that group’s food, music, or other aspects of their culture despite having little knowledge of it
  • Avoid interacting with perceived outsiders.
  • Blame perceived outsiders for local problems, such as a lack of new jobs or inflation.
  • Believe that perceived outsiders think, behave, live, or feel significantly differently from non-outsiders.
  • Treat perceived outsiders differently from non-outsiders by being rude or hostile to them, for instance.
  • Treat perceived outsiders as dangerous or criminal with no evidence that they are.
Xenophobia Vs Racism
Xenophobia Vs Racism 2

Causes of Xenophobia

It might be surprising to know that many of those who engage in xenophobia as a form of oppression do so intentionally for their own gain. One is to keep them in certain groups of power, to disempower others.

Xenophobia can stem from racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of oppression, which can fuel xenophobia toward specific out-groups.

There are a variety of complex factors that contribute to this methodological formulation. And those groups may be motivated by the following:

  1. Power: Political leaders sometimes use xenophobia as a tool to get votes.
  2. Insecurity: Several studies suggest that perceived insecurity plays a significant role in xenophobia.
  3. Greed: Sometimes, resources are not scarce — they are just highly valuable and are not sharable to them. 
  4. Lack of diversity: People from areas with little immigration or diversity may feel unsure about the arrival of people who seem different to them.
  5. Education: When schools do not teach students about a range of cultures and religions or avoid discussing the influence of immigration on a country’s history.
  6. Fear of strangers: Some experts believe xenophobia may have some basis, but prejudice is something a person learns from others, meaning it is not inevitable.

Decrease Xenophobia

On an individual level, we can decrease the causes of xenophobia by practicing the following;

  1. Education: Take time to learn about xenophobia, including the myths and stereotypes, as well as its impact on marginalized groups. 
  2. Self-awareness: Many people grow up around xenophobic messaging, whether from their family, peers, or the news. It is essential to become aware of one’s own assumptions and to challenge them, particularly for people in positions of power.
  3. Cultural appreciation: People may find it helpful to expand their understanding of food, music, movies, and more. For example, caregivers might encourage their children to read books with diverse characters or try foods from various cuisines.
  4. Inclusivity: Find ways to make group environments more inclusive by breaking down the “us versus them” dynamic. 
  5. Using privilege: People who belong to an in-group have privilege compared to perceived outsiders. They can use this privilege to benefit others.
  6. Speaking out: Speak out against xenophobic comments, jokes, or microaggressions.


What are The Solutions for Xenophobia?

– Educate others and children about other cultures to expand their understanding of those different cultures. Speak out against xenophobic comments, jokes, and microaggressions. Increase self-awareness and use privilege to benefit others who are subject to xenophobia.

What are the Effects of Xenophobia in the Community?

Xenophobia breeds an atmosphere of hostility and distrust in society. It can lead to a spree of violence, which will affect the economy of this community as it accelerates.