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Xenophobia

Xenophobia

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Published by Lourdu Xavier
Though the xenophobia appears to be overcome, perhaps the learned response of
anxiety towards strangers somehow remains "hardwired" within the brain. After all, the
response is learned in an early, formative stage of development.
Though the xenophobia appears to be overcome, perhaps the learned response of
anxiety towards strangers somehow remains "hardwired" within the brain. After all, the
response is learned in an early, formative stage of development.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Lourdu Xavier on Jul 21, 2013
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09/24/2014

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Without question our country has a prevalent de facto race problem.

De facto racism is particularly insidious because it often occurs without conscious acknowledgment, and certainly without official sanction. (Officially sanctioned racism defines de jure racism which characterized our state-of-affairs prior to civil rights legislation.) When institutionally based de jure racism ended, however, de facto racism (racism in fact) remained. Numerous studies have demonstrated how widespread this form of racism is. Remarkably, studies is racist discrimination show it to be much more common than people generally regard themselves to be. For the most part, people believe themselves to be non racist or even "colorblind." Patently bigoted views are rare compared to observed race-based discrimination. What appears to be the case is a conscious affirmation of openness and tolerance toward people of a different race. Unconsciously, however, many people will subtly discriminate against the person who is of a different race. It's as if race were a silent cue for one to either "approach or avoid." But given the cue is silent, an unconsciously regarded stimulus, the person can be observed blatantly discriminating and yet tell you with a straight-face that they harbor no racist point-of-view. And, in fact, consciously they appear not to! One avenue of interpreting this disconnect between how people view themselves as non-racist and the observed discrimination that actually takes place, is to explore a deeper seated cognitive mechanism at play than just racial discrimination. This deeper seated mechanism is xenophobia (the fear of strangers). It has been observed that xenophobic behaviors occur early in childhood, in what appears to be a natural cognitive aside to the child learning that people within the world are indeed different; only a few are truly "known" and only one is mom (or mom for practical purposes). A child who has learned this social demarcation can be observed displaying classic xenophobic responses: they'll run for what is safe (typically mom), they will avoid interactions with strangers and strive to remain in a zone of maternal safety. Fortunately, this period of childhood passes and the typical child will learn to live and thrive in both kinds of social worlds the family and with others apart from the family. Though the xenophobia appears to be overcome, perhaps the learned response of anxiety towards strangers somehow remains "hardwired" within the brain. After all, the response is learned in an early, formative stage of development. Once learned, one does not easily forget, particularly if the learned behavior is fraught with anxiety and fear. In later life perhaps the xenophobic response still resides unconsciously. On the outside a cosmopolitan persona will be on display; our xenophobic (reactionary) selves, on the other hand, may be acknowledging environmental stranger cues and quietly employing escape and avoidance strategies that were learned early in life. The xenophobic responses, of course, are silently executed so as not to upset the ever so diplomatic persona with its ever so cosmopolitan point-of-view. One environmental cue, very easily recognized by our "unconscious reactionary" is race. To our reactionary selves a differing race is clearly a stranger cue, a cue that calls forth, subjectively - fear and anxiety, objectively - escape and avoidance. Remarkably, the reactionary has its way. More remarkably still, it has its way without being noticed by the person who has just executed a race-based act of discrimination!

replete with organizational hierarchies. of course. When such development occurs. One is almost sure of a defensive reaction if another is accused of perpetuating racism when.Properly.. however. it is xenophobia. remember. Children are more instructive to "sensitivity training" than are adults. we can approach the problem much more diplomatically. For the bigot. There are. the foregoing is not racism in its essence. It is likely that such an approach will somehow be regarded as evidence of political mischievousness. we may at least know what we are up against and thus strive for a more insightful interpretation of the whole issue. by definition... whereby racism is only but an example. our society's population is not characterized with high numbers of bigoted people. albeit a pervasive one..homosexual pride perhaps. after all. is not destiny. A free . Much stronger the case. we may get somewhere. others: people with turbans is certainly a stranger cue for those who do not wear them. perhaps. rituals. Indeed. No thinking is required: a person with a different skin color is. As to the bigot. Race is very obviously a stranger cue to our reactionary self. in contrast to the xenophobe. if we regard de facto racism as primarily a naturally occurring xenophobic response. then one can argue that such a noxious trait is "natural" and "normal" when one is exposed to others of a different race. and in many respects more difficult of a problem to address. we may be able to delve a little deeper into the issue. Occasionally this reinforced message may develop into a full-blown ideology. A differing race is highly susceptible to being regarded as a stranger cue because the trait is permanent and distinctive. they absolutely believe that the charge is unfounded. we may better understand and change ourselves. We may prove to be better change-agents by accepting our noxious proclivities toward xenophobia given that such a disposition will no longer need to be regarded as a "chosen" path on the part of the xenophobe. or they will shell up for fear they will be seen as "politically incorrect" if they dare defend themselves against the charge. The problem of xenophobia is serious. is not reactionary. Race just happens to be one kind of stranger cue. Fortunately. By recognizing the reactionary self in all of us. it is open and cosmopolitan. validating literature. The bigot. But by accepting biology as a certain vector in the shaping of our demeanor. If xenophobia is to some extent hardwired in the brain. etc. Their conscious attitude. is not an optimistic assessment of humanity: naturally occurring cues that stimulate naturally occurring racist responses! On the other hand. People are intrigued by extremist views just as they are by tabloid journalism. the bigot actively seeks opportunities to reinforce the adhered-to message. For the bigot... nothing short of an epiphany can rectify their absurd views. then. as say. their views are widely heard. who may feel such instruction to be condescending. a stranger as far as our reactionary self is concerned. If the notion is accepted as being a part of human nature. if the xenophobe (which is all of us to a degree) is alerted to the intrinsic disposition of the xenophobic trait. the pedagogic tactic of xenophobic awareness will be thoroughly eschewed. "elects" for one reason or another to amplify his/her xenophobic tendencies into some sort of social message. the reactionary is embraced and consciously affirmed. all the foregoing is not applicable. Biology. Their response will be either denial. a response to cold weather is shivering. By viewing our de facto race problem as primarily a problem of xenophobia instead of as racism per se. of course. Unfortunately. as are people who may display a differing lifestyle . in fact. This approach can be particularly useful for children. This. the reactionary self can make quick and easy demarcations.

on the other hand. The best antidote for bigotry. The non-pathological forms of xenophobia are extremely common. We need to consciously recognize this very human trait. This only seems to give such views undue legitimacy. An educated polity. As for xenophobia.democracy. hopefully. perhaps. accept its existence. can generally regard such views as the nonsense it is and not be tempted to employ such dogma as necessarily evidence of a thoroughly racist society. as common as smiles and frowns. acknowledge its adverse impacts. is not to be unduly alarmed by it. of course. the tactic must be the opposite: we need to make explicit what is generally implicit. allows this sort of expression . . and then affirmatively change our xenophobic responses as they pertain to race.as it rightly should.

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