Tracy (22) was born and raised in Indonesia, her parents are both Indonesian. She also identifies herself as Indonesian. Tracy came in 2016 to The Netherlands to study graphic design & illustration, at art academy Minerva.
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
Fortunately, I grew up in a loving home. Both my parents continuously supported and guided my decisions to make sure that I am well and able. There were constant after-school music, art, math, language, and sport lessons here and there, but it loosened once I started high school. They were never obsessively hard on my academic achievements, but they do want me to strive for the best.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
Over the period of my life I’d discuss religion, marriage, relationships, kids and work in a manner where I’d jump from one thing to another. Though this year (maybe because I’m also familiarizing myself with in-depth topics like these) I’m able to talk more openly with my mom in one go. I wouldn’t get into too much detail though, I know she had her past, and her experiences shaped her conditioning and advice she’d give me, so I’m the type to avoid a conversation where I know it’s going to overwhelm me and if I were to push further on my beliefs, it would only end up badly. I don’t openly talk about sexuality or sex in the family, it’s something that I wouldn’t get into.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots?
I felt closer once I lived in the Netherlands. Being away from home made me realize how proud I am to be Indonesian. I didn’t research my roots or history because I don’t feel the need to do so yet. Perhaps later on.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Most definitely. I faced racial remarks in The Netherlands for the first time and it made me feel so incredibly hurt and upset. I had a few instances where they would call me names or ask if I “have” an Indonesian name (whatever that means). It’s heartbreaking because this is who I am, and I can’t change anything about it.
Did you ever have a role model when you grew up?
I didn’t have a role model. Today, I’d say my role models are the great characteristics of all my loved ones. Role models are important because it enables you to at least have an example of how you would be if you were to come from a place of your higher self. It’s definitely important to have role models like me, because then I know if they can do it, then so can I.
Do you feel like you’re the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
I don’t resonate with the model minority myth because I grew up solely in Indonesia. I didn’t have any other cultures to compare it with during school, because the students, more or less, had the same nationality.
What made you who you are now?
The numerous secondhand experiences I’ve gathered.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese? How did you react & what did you feel?
Definitely. I usually ignore them and I felt terrified.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
In my opinion, one of the typical stereotypes set for Asians would be how quiet we are. I think it may also come from our culture actually, as a form of respect for one another. I think it’s present in most (especially those who grew up in Asia) but only to a certain degree. Though of course everybody is different and it depends on their upbringing and their personal characteristics.
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 when people make such comments?
The most common would be the shape of my eyes, and I do identify with it. There would be days where I wish I’d have better features for sure, especially way back during my high school days. People never exactly mention anything about it now, but I’m definitely learning to appreciate all my little details, one baby step at a time.
Do you know any Chinese stereotypes and do you identify yourself with that?
Well the one that pops into my mind is that we all look the same, and no! We are all unique in our own ways! Same goes with every other race and living beings in this world.
With Indonesian stereotypes, we’re very expressive in terms of how we communicate with each other. A lot of intonations to emphasize what we say, and I definitely identify with that! It adds richness to our conversations for sure!
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced? Describe. Has it gotten worse since Corona? What do you feel and how do you feel when people make such comments?
One of the racist remarks that I remembered was when men would call out “Konichiwa!” or “Chinese!” in Dutch. A recent one happened where a friend of mine was calling her friend on video, and he referred to me as, “Hey Chinese!” and continues to talk in Dutch to me about how I should show him my face because at the time I was facing backwards.
Fortunately, it has not gotten worse since Corona, and when people make such comments, I would feel extremely vengeful afterwards. I’d thought of all the nasty things I would say back but I realized after a few tearful moments, “No. They’re just hurting. It’s part of the human mind to belittle things they don’t understand, something they would see as odd for them. What comes around goes around.”
In asian culture, it’s normal for a woman to get married as soon as possible… How do you see it?
I think in this day and age, women should do whatever they love and see fit for themselves. Whether it’s to focus on their careers or maybe to build a family, everyone has their priorities and dreams they’d like to set out and we have to respect their choices no matter what. I think it’s also important to keep in mind not every woman has the chance to go about whatever it is they long for, given the circumstances or living conditions they are in. So perhaps we should come to an understanding of just supporting one another in ways that we can, instead of dismissing one’s choices as invalid.
What is a funny trait or what is something that not everyone knows about you?
I have a solo dance party everyday and it’s hands down the best.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the suture?
I stand fully rooted in the present. My plan for the future is to flow wherever life takes me.
What do you want to give to the readers?
I just want them to understand that it’s simply about being open-minded. The world’s too vast for you to stay in your bubble of comfort. Accept the fact that you’ll never stop learning, ever.
Where can we follow you?