So what is xenophobia and its effects? Xenophobia is the fear of and/or hatred towards people who are different from you in terms of culture, nationality, religion, or race.
The xenophobia in South Africa today has led to a lot of problems for Nigerians especially.
But what are the causes of xenophobia in South Africa? And why is there xenophobia? What happened during xenophobia in South Africa is better left imagined than told. As you continue to read, I’ll let you understand the causes and effects of xenophobia in South Africa.
People who look different, speak a different language, or have different customs can appear threatening to those who are used to only one particular ethnic group, lifestyle or set of behaviours.
Now let’s look at the causes of xenophobia and why does xenophobia happen in South Africa?
Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa: What causes xenophobia attacks?
Fear is nearly always the root causes of xenophobia. As humans, we have an aversion to things we do not perceive as “normal”. Often this can cloud our judgments, and make us expect the worst possible scenario. Pessimists are more likely to be xenophobic than optimists for this reason.
What are the impacts of xenophobia on country?
Xenophobia in South Africa – and indeed any other country – can ruin the lives of already broken people. Many immigrants only move because they have to.
Either there is violence or a lack of money in their home country, making it safer for them to move to a new country. In these safe haven countries, xenophobia can lead to similar conditions. Discrimination causes a lack of money, which leads to many problems, especially poverty and lost opportunities.
But can xenophobia be overcome? Sure! You can take it on either directly or through community engagement and political action. The Government seem not to how to deal with xenophobia in South Africa, otherwise, the attacks would have been over by now.
Let’s take a look at some of the solutions to Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa.
Face the xenophobes in your own life
You may have a relative or friend who has nationalist or racist ideals. Spend time talking to them about their point of view.
When in conversation with a racist, nationalist, or xenophobe, avoid attacking them directly.
Instead, emphasize that it is their ideas which are misguided, and remind them that they are a good person who can and should let go of their intolerance.
Use calm, reasoned arguments to illustrate that they don’t need to fear a group just because they are different.
Surprise them with new information that could change their perspective.
For instance, if a Catholic is afraid of Muslims, you might mention that Muslims really revere Mary, or that they recognize Jesus as a great teacher.
Question why a group is seen as a threat
Xenophobia is often no more than a feeling of suspicion or mistrust of the “other.” Pressing people as to exactly why they consider differences in culture, religion, or dress threatening is the first step toward making them question their own bigoted beliefs. Is it skin colour? Accent? Religious practice? Stereotypes about behaviours? These are among the most common causes of xenophobia.
Show how xenophobia is problematical
Xenophobia results in discrimination, racism, and nationalism, which in turn inspire violence, hostility, and exploitation. Many of the world’s worst atrocities – from the Holocaust to the Rwandan Genocide – have been inspired by xenophobic sentiments.
Educating people about these historical facts will help prevent future outbursts of xenophobia. Other examples of xenophobia which were later accepted as disasters or embarrassments include:
- The Sacco and Vanzetti case
- The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II
- The 2008 Alexandra riots in South Africa
Crack jokes concerning xenophobia
Comedy can reveal the absurdity underlying xenophobic rhetoric. Use jokes and satire to illustrate how silly it is to disrespect and deny aid to others just because they are different.
For instance, a popular parody group in Hungary criticized their government’s proposal to build a long wall along the border to keep immigrants out by expressing excitement for the return of the Iron Curtain.
You could also draw a cartoon lambasting xenophobic policies and demagogues.
Even though xenophobia is a serious issue, comedy is a good tool to express disagreement with xenophobic notions and challenge xenophobic beliefs.
(Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa) Live your ideals
Be an example to others of how to forge a more united, accepting world. Build coalitions with marginalized groups on social and political issues.
Alternately, join a sports team, club, or hobby group that has an ethnically diverse membership.
Foreign language study groups are a good choice, as are cooking classes which promote global cuisine.
Standing in visible solidarity with the “other” in daily life is a simple but important way to defeat xenophobia.
Celebrate diversity. If you live in a big city like New York or San Francisco, visit foreign enclaves like Chinatown or Little Italy. Talk to the people in these neighbourhoods and patronize their businesses.
Vote for progressive politicians
Xenophobia in politics manifests as jingoism, an extreme and narrowly-defined nationalism coupled with hawkish foreign policy.
Progressive politicians are the opposite: they stand for peaceful resolutions, value multiculturalism, and believe in the equality of all people regardless of their nation, religion, or creed.
Avoid voting for politicians who support the war or punitive sanctions against a different culture or ethnic group simply because they are different.
Back legislation that resists xenophobia
Laws which strictly regulate hate speech and hate crimes are powerful deterrents against xenophobia.
Xenophobes tend to support strict immigration and refugee policies which limit the flow of asylum-seekers.
Prosecute hate crimes and hate speech.
When foreigners are threatened, attacked, or have their businesses ruined, someone needs to be held accountable. Punishing the perpetrators sends a clear message that xenophobia is unacceptable.
Getting assistance and support of law enforcement is crucial. Police are often untrained in how to address hate crimes or, worse, among the chief exploiters of refugees, migrants, and foreigners.
Demand institutional equality
Craft educational curricula that celebrate diversity and encourage tolerance for cultures different than your own.
Similarly, institute workplace guidelines in hiring, firing, benefits, and compensation which ensure all workers are treated equitably.
In schools, government, and industry promote positive images of minorities, foreigners, asylum seekers, and other marginalized peoples at risk for being the targets of xenophobic attacks.
Organize against xenophobia
Form or join a nonprofit organization that fights for social equality and inclusion. Hold rallies and marches against xenophobic incidents and legislation.
Marching sends a powerful signal to xenophobes that their behaviour is unacceptable.
Use social media to promote your message and actions.
Launch public education and awareness campaigns to insist that foreigners and refugees deserve respect and empathy.
Include marginalized peoples in the decision-making process.
Use relevant holidays like World Refugee Day (20 June) and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March) to bring attention to the problem of xenophobia.
(Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa) Involve the press
Journalists can be an important source of information and education in the fight against xenophobia.
Write to your local newspaper, your news website of choice, or your favourite news magazine asking for more stories about how xenophobia is hurting people both abroad and in your state or nation.
Repost stories you see online through social media. Make xenophobia a visible issue.
Start a blog to criticize and document the xenophobic sentiments you hear from public figures, celebrities, or just people around you.
Bring the victims of xenophobia in the fight
The “other” should be included in the decision-making process to find out how they experience xenophobia and how they think it could best be combated.
Encourage migrants, refugees, and victims of racism and discrimination to speak up about their experiences and how they were made to feel.
Give the victims of xenophobia a platform from which to denounce their attackers. The quality and scope of documentation in cases of xenophobic harassment and violence are generally poor.
Provide aid to victims of xenophobic attacks. This may include food, shelter, clothing, or non-material aid like counselling.
Let the victims of xenophobia know that they have rights and don’t need to suffer in silence, in this way, the effects of xenophobia on the victims is lessened.
Conclusion on Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa
Having read this far, is xenophobia a good thing?
Try to remember that you are the same on the inside, no matter who you are or where you come from. You can also try to put yourself in their shoes, and think about how it would feel to be feared because of where you came from or what makes you different.
If you are xenophobic, ask others to help you reconsider your point of view.
Fighting to defeat xenophobia is a noble goal, but understand that it will take generations to accomplish.
Many of the reasons behind xenophobia have deeply historical or psychological roots. Despite this, don’t give up. Even changing one person’s point of view can be a large impact.
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