I came across facebook post about how Indonesia is ranked as one of the most racist country in the world along with India and Lebanon. I don’t actually quite agree with this article until it emphasized question “willingness to have other race as neighbours”. Indonesian race are not as diverse as how they have in America, you can actually spot African descent, Latinas, Natives or so. It’s in the more micro-race way (Sundanese, Javanese, Minang, Batavian, Batak, etc) rather than micro (Caucasian, Latina, etc). Well I am no expert on this so let’s move on to things that i actually want to talk in this writing.
Well Indonesians are indeed, racist in some extent. Succession often happens between religion and race. Most of majority don’t want to get along with them, the minority. I grew as minority in international school which Pribumi are less than foreigners, including caucasian, Northern Asian, Arabic, or Hispanic yet i still get along with all of my friends. Not until i moved to Bandung and get along with the majority of my race; Pribumi where in micro level we are yet diverse. I never identified my self as any micro race as how Pribumi said to each other that claimed they’re Javanese or Batak knowing that they inherit family name along with the culture. Yet i don’t know where should i categorise myself in the box. This could be easier if its “Asian” box or “Indonesian” box rather than micro-race box. I grew up with many culture and still don’t know where does “my family came from”. I have written this cocktail race of me in my previous blog post you can check it out.
I never been aware of micro-race until i stepped out and play with majority where they started to label me based on my appearance. I has brown skin, strong jaw, pointy nose, well build, loud voice, and small eyes but society often only focus on “small eyes” and determine that i am Chinese. I get a little bit uncomfortable when people think that i’m Chinese, not that i don’t like them (remembering our history between Orba dan Chinese) but i’m uncomfortable because i am NOT Chinese. People get overly shocked if i went to Mushalla to pray and sometimes they ask me if i am a mualaf, i mean… Seriously, mind your own business?? My mom also gets words such as “Cina Muslim” because she has white pearly skin and small eyes and using hijab plus she also works for Chinese notary in china town Bogor. How that fact does not add up with each other? Back again, it’s not that i don’t like Chinese, it’s just that i don’t like to be identified as something i am not.
Funny experience when i spent months in Hong Kong, my careless style fit HK teenage style. I often picked up by strangers asking me directions or ended up being in the middle of cantonese conversation i don’t even understand. Another experience happened during my stay in Singapore, my very-Chinese-looking-sister was often mistaken as SG-Chinese student and told “What kind of Chinese are you ah by not speaking Chinese?”. Well yea same thing happens here in my home country, “Cina-item” they said. WHY?
I asked my dad the other day about my race and why do i look Chinese. Well…. He said that i shouldn’t be mad to be called Chinese, it’s Orba propaganda saying that Chinese is not good, he also preached me with some anthropological fact that indeed we are Mongoloid that shares same ancestor as Northern Indian, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. The so-called “pribumi” came from different race which is Malay, the migration blablablabla so in Java we have variety of Mongoloid and Malay blablabla. Yes, yes i do understand if i trace back things to my great great great grand mother, but dad i’m facing real thing here among people with mediocre knowledge of anthropology! God! Where should i even put Indonesian people in the spectrum of Asian? Batak does not even look like Chinese yet they identified as Asia then how about Floresian? Ugh boxes!
But then if i recall, maybe my Chinese-ness was because of my upbringing. My mom’s office is in China Town and my Mom’s house is among Chinese elite housing. Hmm. Maybe i am Chinese? So in one day my neighbours invited me to their golden wedding anniversary in some fancy hotel in Bandung. The whole event is conducted in Chinese language! All my surrounding are Chinese, event the ritual of celebration include food parade and DRAGON! It’s no way Scandinavian so it must be it! This is the place where i should belong, my people! Or as people stereotyped me. Yet there i feel not a part of this cultural ritual, damn i don’t even understand a word they’re saying in the whole event!
That moment leads me to realization that i am too Chinese for Pribumi yet too Pribumi for Chinese. My dad suggest me to spent $150 for genetic research lab that can tell my gene line. Oh dad, don’t be overly serious, i don’t care about my race all i know is that i am a part of a country that still need an education on how labeling people should not be a thing; Indonesia. Therefore i am Identifying myself as Indonesian. Race is such a spectrum why bother putting it to a box?
Anyway please don’t be offended by this impulsive writing. Wait no, it’s you’re right to be mad or offended tho why should i beg you to not kkkk.
Photo: Jenny Yang’s Buzzfeed Featured Video Footage