Rebekka (23) Born in the capital of Taiwan (Taipei) and came to the Netherlands when she was 11 weeks old. She calls herself a banana. White on the inside, ‘yellow’ on the outside. She was adopted and raised by white people in a small village. She considers herself as ‘myself’, and not as Dutch or Taiwanese. She doesn’t feel Dutch nor Taiwanese.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
My mother never raised me very strictly. I was raised in a Christian way and because of this I learned certain norms and values, but my mother never pushed me to become a ‘Christian’, for example. Not even during my studies. The most important thing for her is that I’m happy. What I also learned from her is that you don’t have to worry about others. If I used to want to wear a princess dress to school as a little girl, that was fine. Not afraid of other people’s opinions.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
Actually, there are hardly any topics that I cannot discuss with my parents. I have learned from home that there are no stupid questions. I myself have a very good relationship with my adoptive mother and I am even more likely to tell her news or events than to my friends.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
I find this a difficult question. I don’t necessarily feel tied to my Asian roots. This is because I never learned anything about the culture. Because I have been living in a mainly white village for over 23 years, I have rarely had to deal with the culture. However, from an early age I regularly visited the Chinese New Year in Rotterdam, together with my brother and adoptive mother. I can remember that as a child I was very impressed and emotional about that day.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes. It wasn’t until high school that I realized I was different from others. I was literally the only student in the class of foreign descent. Unfortunately, I constantly had to deal with racism. Because I regularly received comments about my Asian appearance, I came to believe that I was ugly. That I shouldn’t be there. That’s why I wanted colored contact lenses when I was 13 and I preferred to be blond and white.
I still regularly struggle with being Taiwanese. Because I’ve been told for years that I’m ugly, and have been called all kinds of Asian dishes and swear words, it’s hard to believe that I’m not ugly.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
I have never had a specific role model in my life that I used to look up to.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
I think there should be more Asian people in the media. I miss famous Asian (Dutch) on TV. People who can stand up for us. It would be so nice if there was more understanding and we got rid of stereotypes.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
I am not like what is described but I do want to make a difference.
What made you who you are now?
Certain events of the past have made me who I am today. Violent events from the past have made me a stronger person. Not only have I partly processed my trauma, but I am also learning how to stand up for yourself and Asians more. Normally I used to never dare to discuss certain topics related to racism, but now I enter the discussion and I like to talk to people.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Regularly. People often conclude that I must be from China. Unfortunately, some people don’t know the difference between being Asian or being Chinese. For example, many people always ask whether you speak Asian, or vice versa.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
In my opinion, the stereotypical Asian is a smart person who works hard and often says nothing when they are joked about. By silence I mean that when jokes are made about them, they often let this go and don’t respond.
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 don’t get many comments about stereotypes. At least not the comment that I really resemble a stereotype like the nerdy asian. Some jokes are made that I don’t look like a stereotypical Asian at all.
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 used to deal with racism on a daily basis. I often got nasty comments thrown at me, including the entire menu of the takeaway Chinese, or people started talking with a so-called Chinese accent, or found it necessary to make fun of me by pulling slanted eyes and hurling swear words at my head.
The worst thing I can remember is being ridiculed by all my classmates in 2nd grade while drawing. They made the most hurtful comments and jokes about me being Asian. At one point I couldn’t take it anymore and I burst into tears. The worst part was that all this happened in front of the teacher. He spoke to no one about their behavior and thought I should let it go. At that moment I felt very hurt.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I am an Asian who always eats mini frikandellen and fries when we go to the ‘wok’.
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 am a bit more feminist and believe that women should be able to choose what they want to do in life and what is important to her.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
I hope to be able to provide my input later and what I can do for society. Being adopted myself, I would love to support adopted Asians. Also how they can deal with daily racism. I would also like people in general to stop putting a sticker on everyone, no matter where you come from, who you are, or who you like.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I hope Western people will realize that we are not stereotypes. Stop that.
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