Priscilla (28) Born in Jakarta but moved to the Netherlands when she was 4 years old. Raised in Apeldoorn with my Dutch mother who also has Indonesian roots. Currently works for the municipality of Rotterdam as a work coach.
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 working a lot and it was mostly my grandma who was taking care of me and my sisters. Both are Dutch so we were not raised with an Asian upbringing, but I did learn a lot about Indonesian culture. I had to teach myself Indonesian when I went there for half a year and when I studied in Leiden.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
I am very open with my mother. When I was younger it was difficult to open up because she replies quickly with “the past is the past” so it was difficult to talk to her about heavy feelings. But this has changed in the years and we are very open now.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
Not always, sometimes I feel disconnected with my Indonesian roots because I’ve been living here for so long and my connection with my Indonesian father is not strong. I think Indonesia is a beautiful country and I would like to know more about it. That is why I chose a study which focuses on Indonesia but it is not something I am busy with on a daily basis. I do try to watch Indonesian films, and listen to podcasts. With my oldest sister in Jakarta we often use some Indonesian words in between the Dutch words when we talk.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
When I was a child, definitely. It was only when I started studying at the university that I felt more accepted. I was often told I was a ‘Kut Chinees’ among others so for a long time I hated my appearance. It was really tough because I went to a high school where there were a lot of rich white kids. I was an easy target who could not really hide.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
Unfortunately I didn’t. There were no people around me or people in the media with whom I could relate to. That was really too bad because I could have been stronger at that time in my life if I could relate myself to someone.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
There is so little Asian representation. I don’t think I can even count 10 or so Asian celebrities in the Netherlands. If there are famous Dutch people with Asian roots, there are often white passing. I would not be able to identify myself with them. I would like to see more different kinds of Asian role models in the media which are not stereotypical.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
Absolutely not! Maybe I feel this way because I was raised surrounded by a lot of Dutch people, but often I just forget I am Asian. Also, I have the idea that most Dutch people look differently at Indonesian culture as compared to Chinese culture. The only issue for me is that people often offend me because I have an East-Asian appearance.
What made you who you are now?
I have been through a lot in my life. The past 2 years I had finished therapy and a lot of training which helped me in my personal development. These have really helped me a lot to gain new perspectives of my life and that I do not need to think about what the other person thinks of me because the most important is what I think of myself.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Yes, I mostly felt shit because at that time I could not stand up for myself. I am mostly afraid of physical violence because I am a woman with a small posture. Although I practice martial arts, it does not mean I would fight with someone when I am walking the streets.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
“Asians are always smart and very good at math. Asians are very flexible. Asians have a tight vagina. Asian men are feminine.” I do not see other Asians that way. Unfortunately, a lot of stereotypes and ignorance are from the media. But people can also bring about the worst in each other when they don’t understand each other. People hardly talk to each other to really understand each other’s complex experiences.
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?
Often people think I am very young and they do not always treat me like an adult. I used to hate it when people called me cute because it felt like people did not take me seriously. Some people also think I am passive which is not the case, which is quite annoying. Sometimes people do not give me the space so I can share my opinion or somebody takes what I said and claim it as theirs. It is really frustrating when people do not listen to me or respect me as a person.
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced?
People said a lot of offensive things to me. During high school people would say “Hoe lang is een Chinees” or “Ni hao” en I would be called a spring roll of kut Chinees. I cannot even recall which memory was the worst. Since corona I became more fearful of people. A group of guys called me out on the street which made me feel unsafe. Then I heard two girls talking about me in the supermarket and saying that corona is the fault of ‘my kind of people’ and now the Netherlands have to pay for it.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you?
I entered a Speaking Competition in Malaysia where I had to give a speech in Malaysian. I speak Indonesian so I asked my former classmate to walk me through the Malaysian accent and slang. I lost in the second round but I got a free and fun trip to Kuala Lumpur!
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 can’t relate to this because in my home this was never an issue. I did notice that in Indonesia people would ask me often when I would get a boyfriend or get married. It used to bother me quite a bit but now I am enjoying all I have and everything that I do.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
Now I am working for the municipality of Rotterdam as a work coach and it is such a grateful job. I also like to volunteer such as in Live Your Story where I play. We perform several stories which talk about racism and discrimination and I play in Kleurles (Color Lesson) which talks about discrimination. We play for schools and companies. Also, I am focusing on my martial art, pencak silat, and I am training so I can enter competitions.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I truly hope people talk to each other to get to know each other without coming up with prejudices. I hope people don’t assume they know everything about the other by just looking at them because people have so many complex layers that you just cannot see. But I mostly hope that each reader will have the guts to be his, her or themselves in a world that claims to know us and is trying to keep us small. We are so much more worth than all prejudices and stereotypes that others give to us.
Where can we follow you:
IG: allurabluee / FB: Cilly Haley / Linkedin: Priscilla Rasyid