Xenophobia: Does Your Fear Bias Your View of the World?

By Rosalie Chamberlain.

Denver, CO. A recent article in the Washington Post, titled Attacks on American Muslims are growing uglier by the day. It must Stop,” prompts me to ask the question, why does this keep happening, and yet escalating instead of getting better?  It seems evident that recent events fuels fears of an unfamiliar culture.   


So, if fear is the answer to the “why,” the question I raise now is how does fear and bias turn a potentially open heart into hatred?

Xenophobia and racism are top headlines.  When these tragic incidents occur, the intent and commitment to stop the separation, isolation and discrimination grows, sure, but it is often only talked about. Talking will not create change. Talking will not promote an inclusive and open society and environment.

And every time someone takes sides and makes the “other” side wrong, alien, foreign, illegal, inferior, etc., they perpetuate the biases, the prejudice, the discrimination and the separation. And the cycle keeps turning, but not for the better.  We keep getting farther away from what is said to be a value, a concern that needs addressing.

A first step is to take personal responsibility of our own beliefs.  If we do not believe that the violence, separation and isolation should be happening, we have to take individual responsibility for creating change. Instead, we take sides based on what we hear and read, often without question, and thus, stereotype and build prejudices against entire populations and groups. We stay silent or make excuses. We hold back or feel indifference because we are not directly affected. The reality is that we are all affected by the lack of progress in creating a more inclusive society. We all will or do experience the impact / the reverberation of inactivity.

I believe fear is the element that lurks behind biases and beliefs that exclude.  We have to look at our beliefs that are caused by fear.  We need to examine our own biases, prejudices, assumptions, beliefs and fears.  Here is a way to start.  Ask yourself this:

What belief do you hold about your impact/contribution to create change?

How willing are you to speak up?

How willing are you to examine how you vote and the impact?

What are your true values?

Will you examine and educate or rely on old messages, what others say and reactions that feed the frenzy and fuel the fire?

How can you be the change that can make a difference to building a more open, collaborative and inclusive world?

How willing are you to set an intention to work toward change – to stop hatred and isolation?

OR, will you sit back and take sides and perpetuate the vicious cycle that takes us further from a diverse an inclusive society, in which lies our strength?

Rosalie Chamberlain is the Owner of Denver, CO-based Rosalie Chamberlain Consulting & Coaching. A thirty-five year organizational culture and eighteen year coaching veteran, she specializes in maximizing talent and productivity within organizations. She is a skilled consultant, facilitator, coach and speaker in the areas of diversity and inclusion strategy, multicultural competency, leadership development, and talent management, with expertise in managing and leveraging diverse talent.

Previously, Chamberlain was a Diversity & Inclusion Manager for a national American Lawyer Top 100 law firm. She received her diversity and inclusion credentials from Cornell University’s Institute for Labor & Relations (ILR) and was certified through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and the International Coaching Federation. To learn more visit www.rosaliechamberlainconsulting.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Her new book, Conscious Leadership in the Workplace, will be available on Amazon as well as other online booksellers in April 2016.

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The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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