How to Spot Xenophobia
How to Spot Xenophobia

How to Spot Xenophobia – Telltale Signs of an Alienating Personality

Ever seen that person say “I’m not racist, but…” and then wonder what on earth they mean? For those of us who see the world differently, it’s hard to understand why people feel the need to even say these kinds of things in the first place.

Well, in some cases, you might find people make derogatory comments based on location rather than the color of their skin. That’s known as xenophobia.

So let’s take a closer look at what xenophobia is and how to spot a xenophobe so you know how to best approach such a sensitive subject.

What is a Xenophobe?

The term “xenophobe” is derived from the Greek words xenos (foreign) and phobos (fear). A xenophobe is someone who fears or hates people who are different, especially strangers.

Xenophobes believe that their race or nationality is superior and believes that people in other races or nationalities pose a threat to their safety. They can be intolerant, prejudiced, and racist.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a xenophobe as “a person who has a fear or hatred of foreigners.” According to the website, the word is one of the most looked-up words in recent years. Xenophobia, or fear of foreigners, is unfortunately still very common in our society.

History and Etymology for Xenophobia

The term xenophobia was first coined in 1828 by a man named John Cam Hobhouse. He used it to describe fear of foreigners or strangers. Xenophobia is derived from the Greek words xenos (meaning foreign, strange) and phobos (fear).

The word has been applied to a wide range of phenomena in human societies, including racism, ethnocentrism, anti-Islamism and romantic nationalism among others.

Types of Xenophobia

There are three main types of xenophobes: the fear-based, the anger-based, and the ignorance-based.


The fear-based xenophobe is motivated by a deep-seated fear of anything that is not like them. This can manifest as an irrational fear of foreigners, different cultures, or new ideas.


The anger-based xenophobe is driven by feelings of resentment and hatred towards anyone who is not like them. They may feel that their way of life is being threatened by outsiders, and they may lash out at anyone who seems to be different.


The ignorance-based xenophobe simply doesn’t know any better. They may have never interacted with people from other cultures, so they see foreigners as strange and dangerous. They may also believe ridiculous myths and stereotypes about other cultures.

The Language of Discrimination

Discrimination happens every day, but it’s usually subtle. When it comes to xenophobia, however, it’s much easier to identify .

Discrimination manifests itself in many forms:

– You may hear a person say something like “I’m not prejudiced, I just hate foreigners.” While this sounds like a good thing, it actually means that the speaker hates anyone outside his/her race.

– You may overhear someone saying things like “They’re taking jobs away from Americans,” or “Why do they get free health care?” These comments aren’t necessarily xenophobic, but they definitely hint towards xenophobia.

– Another common form of discrimination is the “othering” of groups. People will label certain groups as inferior or dangerous, which leads to stereotypes and prejudice.

– Finally, discrimination can also take place through the media. Some shows on television portray migrants as criminals or terrorists, while other shows focus on them as victims.

How Prejudice Shows Up in Xenophobes

There are many ways in which xenophobia can show up. It might be as an individual making racist or discriminatory remarks, or it could be institutional policies that target certain groups of people. Often, xenophobia takes the form of violence against foreigners or those who are perceived to be different.

In recent years, we have seen a rise in xenophobic attitudes and behaviours around the world. This is particularly evident in relation to the migrant crisis, where people fleeing Venezuela are facing increasing levels of discrimination and violence. Xenophobia tends to come out in full force when people feel scared or threatened by change.

We need to be aware of the signs of xenophobia so that we can stand up against it whenever we see it happening. It’s important to remember that everyone has a role to play in creating a more inclusive society for all.

Real world examples of Xenophobia

If you’re still not quite sure what to look out for when discouraging xenophobia, here are some real world examples to consider :

Refusal to Accept Other Languages (Even Other Variants of English)

You read that right, this writer once had a heated discussion with an American who refused to accept that British English was a valid variant of English, and believed the whole world should speak only American English.

So as you can see, Xenophobia in languages even translates into our own native languages!

For those of us who see the positives in life, learning a foreign language can be exciting, even if we find it a challenge for one reason or another. For one, you can connect with people from all over the world and learn about their culture.

Additionally, learning a new language can help improve your memory and reasoning skills. But perhaps the most important benefit is that it can make you more marketable in today’s competitive job market.

Words of Casual Racism

Casual racism is often used as an excuse for people to be xenophobic, when really there’s no excuse for that kind of language at all.

It’s important to note however that, especially in older generations, such language isn’t always intentional; sometimes it comes down to habitual ignorance and the individual is genuinely trying to change the way they perceive the world.

However, irrelevant of the best or worst intentions at heart, xenophobia and the language of casual racism can still cause serious damage to the lives of immigrants and refugees, especially if it’s not taken seriously by others.

How To Spot A Xenophobe

Xenophobia is usually associated with racism, but it exists outside racial boundaries. People who exhibit xenophobic behaviour do not necessarily hate foreigners; they simply dislike things that are unfamiliar or different.

So understanding the differences and nuances is vital in ensuring the best approach to navigating such sensitive subjects.

Keep reading for more advice on navigating the complex world of diversity and inclusivity!

Last Updated on December 23, 2022 by Neurodadversity

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30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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