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We were strangers too

Trinidad and Tobago prides itself in being a hospitable and warm nation. Yet despite this self-assessment, the current maltreatment of refugees and asylum seekers might cause us to re-evaluate how hospitable we really are because true hospitality is never discriminatory.

Xenophobia, which is the fear of and hate for foreigners has reared its ugly head in our country. It expresses itself in degrees of hate, intolerance, and exploitation towards people of other nationalities. Anecdotally, Venezuelans and Cubans, for example, resident in Trinidad and Tobago are now subject to verbal abuse, discrimination, labour exploitation and general maltreatment at the hands of myopic and small-minded citizens who focus on their ‘nationality’ rather than on their humanity.

Racism and xenophobia are cousins. The former focuses on race while, the latter’s focus is on the fact that the person is of a different nationality and culture. Do we condemn racism towards one group and yet, display xenophobia to others Social media and blogs in this country are filled with nonsensical and irrational statements that attempt to justify the social sin and shame that is xenophobia.

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