Rosalin (23) born in the Netherlands and raised with Indonesian culture. Mother is Indonesian and came to the Netherlands in 1997. The father of Rosalin’s mother is of Chinese descent, but due to the circumstances in Indonesia at that time, he was literally not allowed to express his Chinese culture or speak the language. She makes customized jackets and is now more into spirituality.
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 always supports me. I have often stopped with my education because it just doesn’t really suit me. My dream is (however difficult it is) to be able to make a living from making art through my own company. In any case, I want to be able to live from my passion.
Because I started at pre-university education and my entire Asian family had a “high education”. I often felt the pressure to perform. I always knew that I didn’t want to become a doctor or an architect at all. I’m too artsy for that. My choice package ‘Culture and Society’ was therefore quickly made. My mother always saw that I had talents and said that I could do something with them. That gave me a little more peace of mind. I think it’s important to follow your heart and my mother has always told me from an early age: “If you really want something, you can do it, you just have to believe in yourself”.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
Intimacy including sex and relationships, it was pretty much forbidden in my teens to have a boyfriend. I’ve always kept these relationships a secret from her. Fortunately, she is aware of my current relationship. I don’t even want to talk about sex haha. My mother is Christian and of course the rules are to get married first.
Somehow I also notice a difficulty in expressing affection. That way you won’t really see me and my mother hugging. There is also a clear generation gap so that I can’t really say much to my mother, but also because I don’t speak fully Indonesian myself. If I could, she would be able to understand me better in certain respects than in Dutch. My mother was 37 when she had me so that is quite late. I’m also her only child and I think she’s stricter because of that.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not?
Yes and no. I was raised with the Indonesian culture and I also identify more Indonesian than Dutch. But because I know that my grandparents were Chinese and this culture was taken away at that time, I do miss some sort of puzzle piece.
I try to embrace the Indonesian culture as much as possible. If I have children I would love to pass on the culture and of course the dishes ;).
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes. Especially when I was younger. Back then I often noticed that I was different. For example, my lunch looked very different from the children in my class and I was sometimes bullied for it.
I wasn’t so easily bullied for my appearance but when they saw what my mother looked like. Words like “poo Chinese” were thrown at me more often.
Did you ever had a role model when you grew up?
My role model since I was 8/9 years old is Rihanna and still is. Especially because she is besides being a “fashion icon” for inclusivity and I think that’s really important.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
I think there is xenophobia in the Netherlands. Especially with the rise of Corona. I notice and see that Asian people are still discriminated against and harassed purely because of their appearance. Such things hurt me because I know that my mother and aunt also have to deal with this.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
No, not necessarily. I think this mainly has to do with some people not seeing me as “Asian” at a glance.
I do notice that because I’m not a “white Dutch person” that I have to perform harder and that recruiters act differently to me if they don’t know what I look like and only hear my voice than when I’m standing in front of them.
What made you who you are now?
The life lessons I’ve had and mainly the observations. I have noticed that I am different and that maybe not everyone can understand me but I am proud of the person I am today and embrace all the “differences” out there.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react to this, what did you feel?
Often when they knew that I also have Chinese blood and or knew what my mother looks like. Then Asian “jokes” were made more often. Also in high school there were two boys who liked to call every class “sambal” and pull their eyelids, ask if I want spring rolls because they think I look more Vietnamese than Indonesian.. *deep sigh* and Also, of course, my name was pronounced Losalin.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
What I mainly see and encounter in eg Memes. Are the super strict Asian parents and their children who have to perform high. But also the “classic” that the Chinese really eat everything.
In the part that Asian parents are often strict, I can get some truth out of that. I think that the Chinese eat everything is more than nonsense.
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 really get negative comments, that was especially when I was younger. To be honest I have also built a kind of wall for this, the negative things just don’t get to me anymore. The last thing I’ve heard stereotyping is that I’m definitely smart because I’m Asian.
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?
What I’ve already mentioned. Were “jokes” made in my teenage years and Corona actually showed me who in my area has racist statements when it comes to Asians.
Coincidentally, I recently heard on a square nearby how an older man said to an Asian gentleman: “Sir, you do know that Corona originated in Wuhan, by the Chinese who ate bats.” Like come on. If you still believe that at all, then you are very ignorant.
Something I do find frightening is the yellow fever that reigns there. I often have to deal with that. I avoid these kind of men very hard :). The idea that someone sees me as some sort of bird of paradise really gives me shivers.
What is a funny trait or tell something that not everyone knows about you
I am quite tall for a person of Asian descent. Namely 1.73 meters.
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 absolutely don’t see it that way. Although I have been in a relationship for 4 years, I do not want children for a long time. I am in no rush to get married. I think it’s important to just follow my dreams. That little house tree animal comes only after that.
For my mother it is important that I have a good job and earn a lot of money to be able to buy a house of my own, etc.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
Because I am more looking for myself and my roots, I hope that inclusivity is applied everywhere. I hope that in the future people can be even more proud of where they come from and what they look like.
Because I wanted to contribute to Asian culture, including Indonesian culture, I participated in another photo project for Corona where attention was drawn to the diversity among Indonesian people.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I hope that people recognize that there is still discrimination and racism also against Asian people. That “jokes” are not jokes and that they think twice before saying something. In addition, I hope that everyone can be proud of themselves and the “differences” that exist and that they are open to immerse themselves in another culture.
May we celebrate each other instead of tearing each other down.
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