Cross-Cultural Human Nature
(First published in the underground newspaper "The Diamondot")
Xenophobia describes fear, hatred, or dislike of foreign or strange things. It also describes the mentality the Chinese people have always held in regards to Americans. I lived in China for six years. I denounced my American roots. At the price of sweat, blood, and tears, I wrote profuse essays more Anti-American and propagandistic than anything the Communist Party itself produced. I even shaved my arms to try to look Chinese (Asians have hardly any body hair compared to Caucasians). But it got me nowhere. Despite my dark brown eyes and brown hair, to them I was blonde haired, blue eyed, capitalistic, imperialistic, and often downright evil. I never made a single true friend for all the years I went to school there. I was an outsider, and they couldn't see beyond that, no matter what I said or how I tried to conform to their society. The sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and physical abuse I received was hard enough to deal with, but the psychological trauma was worse. I felt guilty to be alive, and ashamed of who I was simply because of where I had been born.
When I returned to America and entered an American school, my experience wasn't much different. Xenophobia is just as virulent here in America as it is in a society that nurtured its ethnocentricity for thousands of years. I don't experience sexual or physical harassment here, but psychologically it's much worse. Most people live their lives in tight little groups, and are so cold to outsiders that I'm terrified to approach anyone. These people are oblivious to the automatic exclusion they practise. I'm not American, and I'm not trying to rejoin American culture. This makes me automatically unwelcome. I'm also not carrying any Chinese culture with me, so I have nothing exotic to offer as a curiosity. I would like to be friendly, but most people seem to regard me as threatening. Inner circles are closed circles, and practically everyone has their own inner circle. I feel alienated and sometimes ostracised, especially when I try to interact and participate in the society and end up rudely snubbed and ignored. No one seems to care, if they notice at all. Perhaps this is a small-town phenomenon, and if I lived in a big city my experience would be different (I'd be lost inside an impersonal machine, and therefore never suffer from trying to interact with humans).
When I came back to America, I thought I might possibly be welcomed home. Instead, I found that I still have no home. Xenophobia is sustained by apathy. One of the saddest feelings in the world, is when trying to reach out to people only increases the sensation of disconnectedness.