Lauryn (22) Born and raised in Haarlem (Schalkwijk ❤️). Her grandfather and grandmother are from the island of Java. They moved to the Netherlands, where her mother, uncle and aunts were born. Her father is Dutch. She studies Built Environment. Engaged to her boyfriend he is half Dutch and half Tunisian.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
I was not raised through ‘tiger parenting’ , but I have talked myself into this feeling at times. My parents were strict, although this had more to do with going out and giving me a curfew h. In terms of school, they have never been very strict about our study subject choices. The only thing they strongly opposed was that I took a gap year, as they consider studying very important. I agree thoughI just think personal development in other areas is important as well.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
I find it awkward to talk with my parents about sexual activity and other similar topics. I am not sure whether they take issue with such a conversation, but for me it would just feel uncomfortable.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
I feel definitely close to my Asian roots. I really feel like a proud Indo, which I always try to display . For example, I now wear batik face masks. I like that I have two identities, even though I’ve struggled with it at times. I have had periods where I felt more Dutch or more Indo. It was difficult for me to determine what identity or group I really belong to. And I’ve now come to the conclusion that I’m simply both and that’s OK, and I am finding my balance in that.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
At primary school I was frequently bullied because of my Indo nose (flat and wide). During that period, I was ashamed of my origin and I preferred to not be Indo. And more recently, during the Corona crisis I experienced a higher e “burden” due to my origin. Even so I didn’t feel ashamed, my Asian descent feels like a ballast, since certain comments would not have been made if you did not have Asian descent.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
I viewed Mulan as my role model. She has been the only Asian representation while growing up. I thought it was really nice that she was such a tough woman who stood up for herself.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
I think Indo people are slightly better represented than other Asian ethnicities. Though surely I notice a lack of knowledge about Indonesia. And the way people talk about Indos is often unsound . It is exemplary that many Dutch people tend to justify colonization. Also, Indonesians are not commemorated during the national remembrance day and that just leaves a bitter feeling.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’? x
I always felt pressured and I felt an urge to do the best I can in class and to prove myself. l I was bullied throughout elementary school t and in order to cope with that, I started to make sure that I became the best in class. I adapted a mindset like ‘fuck you, it doesn’t matter what you say or do, I am smarter anyway’. . But then, during high school, this attitude was exhausting and difficult to uphold because I was only surrounded by smart people (atheneum school). Suddenly I was no longer the best student in class and I kind of had an identity crisis. I no longer knew who I was or how to behave. But the pressure to perform and get high grades persisted. . And questions like “oh you are Asian, why do you not get the top grade?” only fueled this toxic picture.
What made you who you are now?
The bullying during primary school really shaped me as a person. I was bullied for 8 years and when I finally thought I’d be rid of it when changing to high school the bullying started again . Then I said to myself “listen you don’t need to care about what others say because they will always have something to say. . Just be yourself and don’t give a fuck about others. Furthermore, attendingt a ‘white’ school also shaped me as it led me to realize how privileged some people are, and how fucked up it is how some people think. After high school I just became so aware that some people really live in some kind of racist puppet show, and I need to call that out. I think those experiences may have also radicalized me a bit to be more activist.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
When I meet new people they almost always ask if I’m Chinese. I find it very tiring. I thinkJesus, there are so many different, beautiful groups of people in Asia, why do you classify us all as one and the same? . It’s just ignorant, you know there are many different t types of ethnicities in Europe, what makes you believe there are only Chinese people in Asia (the largest continent). It feels very demeaning that Asians are being relegated to one type of people even though they know damn well that not all Asians are Chinese.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
One stereotypical idea I frequently hear is that Asians only eat out. Maybe that’s because people see that in movies. But my mother loves to cook every day, and eating out is almost taboo hahaha.
Also, I often get questions or comments implying that I am a fake Asian, when I say I don’t like sushi. Everyone expects that every Asian enjoys eating sushi but, first, sushi is not even an Indonesian dish so it is not necessarily something I ‘should’ eat and second, people have different tastes, why don’t you just accept that?
I think a positive stereotype is that Asians are often seen as stylish.
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 have often been asked why I don’t get top grades all the time since I am Asian. Like I’m smart, but I also want freetime and not to study all day.
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?
So as a child I was bullied because of my (Asian) appearance such as my wide flat nose and my almond-shaped eyes (“split eyes”).
And since Corona I have noticed more hurtful comments. For instance, if Asians would just eat normal dishes, Corona would have never happened, but that’s just bullshit in my opinion.
It’s a shame when people make remarks on the basis of your descent . I’m always like, come on, you should know better.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I’m an Asian who doesn’t like sushi.
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 really want to become a mother. I have a sort of l primal instinct, I have no doubts I would want to have children. . But I don’t think having children is necessarily part of life. Everyone should decide for themselves how they want to organize their life. I’d like to be a mom, I am engaged and we want to get married once we have the money. But that doesn’t mean that that’s it, or that I want to stay at home. I want to grow in my career, and share with my partner the care of the household and our children. Neither of us are from the “traditional” family roles . We want to take care of it together. r.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
As an Indo living in the Netherlands I hope to bring about more positivity for Indos and Asians in the Netherlands. So, for example, not only white, colonial stories should be shared and heard, but also the stories of my grandfather and grandmother from Java. Furthermore, I hope that the Asian representation in the media will grow. Through kpop and shows like squid game, and a movie like shang chi there is already a little more representation, but I hope I will see even more Asian representation in ‘normal’ TV programs and magazines.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I wish people in the West are more aware of how diverse Asia is and how many beautiful and different cultures there are in Asia. That they not only appreciate us for nice things like our food, but just us as ‘people’ and that they stand up for us when we are subject to racial comments due to Corona for example.
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