It has been 7 years since I wrote this piece on Xenophobia. I wish that I could say that we, as a nation, have become kinder where differences are concerned, but I think that we have lost some ground recently.
I invite you to read my thoughts from 2011…
It was in 1971. I was 15 years old and in the 11th grade. My English teacher, whose name escapes me, gave us vocabulary words each week.
It was in this class I first learned the word, “xenophobia”—hatred or fear of strangers, foreigners, and their customs or culture. Though the word was new to me, the concept was not.
With all of changes we faced in the 1950s and 1960s, and as media coverage became more prevalent, there were daily reminders of the challenges faced by so many people as inequalities in human rights were exposed. The leaders of the time were no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and remain silent.
At home, there were family members who perpetuated the beliefs that were taught to them decades earlier—people who came from a different culture, ethnic background, or skin tone were to be looked at suspiciously, avoided, feared…
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