Francis (29) Born and raised in The Netherlands. Her parents and sister are from Indonesia. Communication advisor for a ‘waterschap’. Invested in the diversity and inclusivity of people within the organization.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
I had a Christian upbringing. We’d also go to the Indonesian church here in Amersfoort. I had to go every Sunday to church and sex before marriage was off the table for me. My parents were laid back when it came to education.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
I couldn’t discuss topics as sexuality, mental health and suicide thoughts. In my teenage years until my mid 20s, I suffered from depression for many years. On top of that, my mom had it too and committed suicide when I was 21 years old. I couldn’t talk about it with my family. Nowadays, it still is hard to talk with my dad about it, but now he is more open.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
I do feel very close to my Asian roots and I am so happy with it. It makes me feel close to my family and it makes me feel me.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
When I was young (age 8-14), I did feel ashamed of being Asian. Until the age of 12, I was the only Asian person in class. People and teachers bullied me. I wished I had blonde hair, caucasian eyes and a lighter skin. My appearance still didn’t feel comfortable in high school. After I turned 17, I finally felt proud of my dark hair, wide eyes and my flat nose! I began to have more Asian friends and that was for me an eye opener.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
I did not had a role model and I did not know why. I thought it was beautiful to see my mom always so kind and loving to other people. I always look up to my parents and what they have achieved in their ways of love.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
The other day I was in a meeting and the topic “who is the most famous Dutch Asian” came up. We couldn’t think of anyone.. It shocked me. There has to be more Asian representation! I think it has evolved in the last 2 years, due to the rise of K-pop, bubble tea, and series like Squid Game. But the representation in The Netherlands needs to be more addressed.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
I do feel like that. Especially during Covid and working for a very Dutch company. I’m happy to help the company with its diversity.
What made you who you are now?
The ups and downs through my life. I’d try to educate myself more in these kinds of topics, but also in mental health. Growing up in two cultures, self love (what was really hard for me) and sending + receiving love.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
It happens a lot. Back in the days, it would make me mad. But now I try to create a conversation with them by asking why they would talk to me like that and I try to create awareness.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
For females, I guess very sensualized. I had a date (way back before I knew my fiancé) with a Hungarian man. He thought I was a more ‘submissive’ female because I was Asian. It totally freaked me out. I don’t know why he thought like this..
What stereotypes and comments have you heard about your appearance? Do you identify with that too? How do you see yourself compared to how others see you? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
I did not get the best grades when I was a student and had to do a lot of resits, some people found that odd because I was Asian. I didn’t think too much of it because I wanted to pass the tests.
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced? Have you experienced it before? Where, when, how? Which experience do you remember most? So has it gotten worse with the Coronavirus? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
I did get a lot of racist remarks. Still almost every week unfortunately. The worst racism I’ve experienced: I even have been attacked on the streets of Utrecht by some random dude. I was alone walking through the shopping area, he pushed me unto the ground and yelled “fucking chinese.” It made me feel unwanted, scared for my own appearance and stupid.. I was 20 years old at that time and know better now.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I’m a bit of a random dancer, whether I’m at home, in the office, at a cafe, outside walking the dog, I’ll always do some dance moves.
In Asian culture, it is normal as a woman to get married as soon as possible, have children, and become a housewife. Because when you have a husband, you have children, you have “made” it in life. How do you see it?
I think it is. My family in Indonesia are pressuring me to get married (because I’m 29). Career wise they don’t really care, it’s funny. For me also, it is not easy to have kids. I have PCOS, a syndrome that can affect my fertility. I feel a lot of pressure since I’m the only grandchild of my grandma who hasn’t got married yet.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
More representation in The Netherlands. In the future I would like to volunteer more for causes like Asian Raisins and Pan Asian Collective. But also at my work and create more awareness.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I hope that people with other cultures get the awareness we try to create. Racism is still happening. Not only Asian people are needed to break the stigma, but every single people, also caucasian people. Not only one person can represent diversity. We need to communicate clearly that white people are also part of diversity. This helps to fight resistance and fear.
Where can we follow you: