Racism, xenophobia, homophobia: what do they hide?

Racism, xenophobia, homophobia: what do they hide?

Social networks are an inexhaustible source of information. Through them come to us countless videos in which we can see how a group of people please another just for being gay, foreign or other skin color. These are unpleasant recordings in which you can clearly see both racism, xenophobia and homophobia. The question that worries many people is, Why do these types of events occur? What leads someone to shout, hit and even end another person's life just for not being the same?

This article will address the issue of intolerance from a basic emotion such as disgust. Little is said about this emotion. In the scientific literature there are writings about disgust, however, compared to other emotions, the content is much smaller. Disgust, in its cultural aspect, is a way to explain the reason why there are attitudes such as racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Let's go deeper!


  • 1 disgust
  • 2 Racism, culture and disgust
  • 3 Racism, homophobia and xenophobia


Alberto Acosta, professor at the University of Granada, says that disgust "arises in circumstances in which something toxic has been ingested or is close to it. It is a very adaptive emotional reaction and strongly embedded in our biological repertoire ". It is a primary emotion, that is, it arises naturally and automatically in the human being. In this way, Its objective is to move away from spoiled food so as not to intoxicate ourselves.

So that, Its main function is to keep us alive. It is a functional emotion related to the survival of the species. The disgust leads us not to eat a rotten apple or not to take a plate of smelly food. Through this emotion we decipher the toxicity of the food and do not ingest it. However, there is another kind of disgust: the cultural.

Racism, culture and disgust

Despite the biological component that has the emotion of disgust, it is also characterized by a cultural aspect. Each culture is different, for example, while in some countries snails are eaten, in others they are most unpleasant. The same goes for insects. This cultural disgust also extends to ideologies. There may be differences between different countries that immerse them in conflicts on an ongoing basis. Although we have closer examples, such as rivalry in the world of football.

Bonifacio Sandín, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the National University of Distance Education (UNED), states that "Disgust extends with cultural evolution to a way of communicating the rejection of a wide range of things that culture considers offensive, including certain types of moral violations towards others". If we have been taught since childhood that homosexuality is something negative, possibly in our adulthood, let's develop this prejudice based on disgust. A disgust based on the toxicity of this sexual orientation.

In the same way it happens with racism and xenophobia. People with different skin than ours can be seen as "pollutants" of our well-being. Religions other than ours, can be classified as toxic to our beliefs. The toxic and repulsive aspect that hides behind this rejection of the different is disgust, in this case, cultural disgust. It is necessary not to see this disgust as the biological disgust. But as elements that we think can harm our well-being and that can contaminate our comfort zone.

Racism, homophobia and xenophobia

The definition of racism presented by José Fernando Troyano (2010) serves to illustrate the three concepts of the title of this section. Trojan states that "Racist behaviors require a certain form of relationship with the other, not just their presence. Attitudes are activated with the presence of the other. Ideas only need knowledge (true or false) of the other (real or imaginary)". The last sentence of its definition is of great importance, since it emphasizes that the knowledge possessed by someone racist can be false and also, the other does not have to be present.

What does this mean? If we are educated in any of these three types of intolerance since childhood, In our ideological base there will only be a theoretical knowledge transmitted by our environment. So, it could be false knowledge because we have not experienced it. If we hear that people of a certain nationality often provoke public altercations, possibly our intolerance towards certain nationalities becomes high. On the other hand, it is possible that our knowledge is real. We are witnessing an attack by a certain group. Does it mean that all who belong to this group are terrorists? Obviously not.

In this way, we observe that although the knowledge is true, we tend to generalize. The aspect of the other being real or imaginary is also important. Not only are there intolerant acts towards others physically, but they are carried out even if they are not. For example, hate messages on social networks, defamation speeches against certain thinking. The presence of someone is not necessary for racist, homophobic or xenophobic content.


  • Acosta, A. (2007). Emotion psychology. Granada: Sider S.C Editions
  • Trojan, J. (2010). The racism. Considerations on its conceptual and operational definition. International Journal of Migration Studies.