Melissa (21) is born and raised in the Netherlands, her mother is Singaporean Chinese and her father is Malaysian Chinese. She studies Clinical Psychology at Utrecht University. Melissa identifies herself as Singaporean-Dutch.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
My mom was a bit of a tiger parent, she was quite strict and had high expectations of me. My dad was more laid back and laissez-faire, but worked a lot so wasn’t around as much as my mom was.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
Rather than taboos per se, there are a lot of topics that were never talked about in my family and with my parents, like sex and romantic relationships, but also racism and anything related to talking about feelings (how you feel, why you feel this way, etc.).
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
I feel close to my Asian roots, but at the same time don’t know as much about my culture and heritage as I’d like to.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes, me being Asian often made me feel like I stood out too much and like I was different from the people around me. Now I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with being Asian / being me though.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
I didn’t have a role model growing up.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
I think there’s a lack of Asian representation in the Netherlands, especially in (mainstream) media. When people think of Asians/Asia, many still seem to cluster different Asian cultures together or make (incorrect) generalizations about Asians. I believe there’s still a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding Asians in the Netherlands that are, unfortunately, quite prevalent.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’? x
I don’t recognize myself in the Asian model minority myth, but I have noticed some people in my environment tend to perceive Asians in that way. By breaking stereotypes such as the Asian model minority myth, we can provide an accurate representation of Asian diversity.
What made you who you are now?
The experiences I’ve went through in my life, the friends I’ve made, and the ways I’ve learned to cope, reflect, and grow from hardships.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Yes, often times they ask about my ethnicity/cultural background or express certain microaggressions.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
Stereotypes of Asians being smart, studious/hardworking, and meek. I believe it partially derives from inaccurate or close to none representation, ignorance, and lack of knowledge about cultural factors/differences that may play a role.
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?
No, I don’t recall having gotten comments about my appearance.
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 don’t get a lot of outright racist remarks from people here in the Netherlands, but I have gotten plenty microaggressive remarks before (like strangers suddenly screaming ‘ni hao’ or ‘konichiwa’) and moments where some white, usually middle-aged, people start staring at me in a disapproving or judging way.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I’m an Asian who can’t do the Asian squat :’)
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?
It’s quite a common belief in my family, especially among the older generations. However, I do believe that it is up to the woman herself to choose how she wants to live her life. Success cannot be determined by anyone else but yourself. People should be able to choose what makes them happy without the pressure of conforming to a certain standard/way of life.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
As an Asian European, specially in these times, I believe it’s very important to raise more awareness of discrimination and racism against Asians and to create & support Asian media representation. It’s important to show people that we are not one and the same, we are each different, diverse, unique, and deserving of accurate representation.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I hope that people can appreciate the diversity within Asian cultures more and look at things from an open perspective. I hope these experiences can help people to grow into more understanding and compassionate human beings 🙂
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