It’s been a while since I scribbled about xenophobia. In fact, the last time was when I wrote “How Xenophobia Can Improve Your Life”. However, of late, I’ve seen xenophobia rear it’s ugly head both online and in the so called ‘real world’ so I thought, let’s write…if only to get it off my chest.
I should point out I’m not entirely sure if this is actually considered xenophobia. I know xenophobia is the hate/fear of foreigners, but what if a foreigner hates other foreigners? What’s that called? If I hate black people because of their race, does that make me a racist? Or if I was gay but hated gay people, would I be considered a homophobe? What if I was fat and hated fat people purely because they were fat? Would I be considered a weightist or do we just file all these under “self hate?”
So yes, my gripe today is with the xenophobia (or self hate…whichever floats your boat) displayed by foreigners towards other foreigners.
I recently had a bit of a debate with a fellow Zimbabwean regarding the changes to South Africa’s immigration laws. She was going on about “I’m glad the South African government is doing something about immigration. There’s way too many foreigners in South Africa.” At this point I was thinking to myself “oh, now that you’re in, there’s too many foreigners?” She continued “our economy can’t absorb them all.” By now I couldn’t stop myself laughing. “Our economy?” OUR? So now that you have a job, it’s “OUR” economy? Now that you have papers, everyone else is “too many foreigners?”
The crazy thing is you hear such talk all the time. One minute someone is jumping the fence into South Africa, next minute they get a job and start complaining about the holes in the border fence. One minute they are a refugee just trying to survive, the next their asylum papers come through and they start complaining that South Africa is granting asylum to too many people. But weren’t you this so called “too many people” a few months ago?
Then there’s those foreigners who have nothing but negative commentary about their nation of birth. “I can’t imagine living in Zimbabwe hey! I get sick whenever I’m there” they say….and this will be coming from someone born and raised in Zimbabwe for 25 years of his life before he moved to South Africa in 2010. How then did you survive 25 years of “I get sick whenever I’m there?”
Then there’s those foreigners who even pretend they are South African by birth. Your name is Tawanda but you’re out here talking about “how do we stop foreigners coming into OUR country?” Into whose country Tawanda? What makes it even more cringe worthy is when Tawanda can’t even speak a single South African language.
Then there’s the class warfare amongst foreigners; classist tendencies that usually see Western foreigners at the top of the foreigner food chain. They usually hate African foreigners because they believe they (Western foreigners) contribute to South Africa’s economy whilst African foreigners are just mooching off the state. This is probably the same everywhere you go though. I’m sure British foreigners in the USA hold themselves in higher regard than their fellow foreigners from Mexico. But it’s not as straighfoward as Westerners vs Africans. We also have classist tendencies amongst ourselves as African foreigners. For instance, Southern African foreigners feel like they have more of a claim to this foreign land than, say, Somalis/Ethiopians.
Ultimately, I don’t know why we are all so obsessed with borders, passports, nationalities, places of birth, etc. Countries are just the space between geometric lines drawn by some very capitalistic individuals who were sharing the world’s land between them.
As for foreigners, they are pretty easy to create. Just take a piece of land and codorn it off, name it, give yourselves little booklets with the land’s name on it, and voilà, everyone on the outside is a foreigner. Then, just for fun, allow some foreigners in and watch them fight each other.
I hate foreigners…who hate foreigners.
* just scribbling my foreigner thoughts*
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